Anneka Williams ’21 Publishes Essay on Hiking New England's Highest Peaks
To allay her need for purpose, Williams set her sights on hiking New England's highest sixty-seven peaks, all of them 4,000 feet or higher.
"It would be the perfect panacea to my existential malaise," she wrote in her essay. On the cusp of turning twenty years old, she was grappling with questions about what she wanted to study, what she wanted to pursue as a career, who she wanted to spend time with—how she wanted to be in the world.
"I wanted to see new places and move through different landscapes," she wrote. "I wanted to feel a sense of purpose. I craved a task that would put me in motion."
By the time the COVID lockdown ground life to a halt in 2020, Williams had summited twenty-three peaks. "I began to approach the 4,000-footers with a new sense of zeal. As the world around me rocked beneath my feet, I held onto these mountains."
She finished her last peak in January 2022. "The bulk of my hiking took place during my senior year of Bowdoin, which was a huge silver lining of remote school for me," she said.
"Tackling the 4,000 footers is a beautifully protean task. The act of hiking boils life down to the landscape around you, the trail beneath you, and wherever your mind takes you. But the mountains stay consistent. The specific peaks changed, seasons ebbed and flowed around me, and my moods fluctuated. But I could always go to 4,000 footers, in search of a rooted, rocky trail, the comfortingly familiar smell of wet earth, and the satisfying sense of purpose that comes with doing something." — Anneka Williams ’21
Williams' article can be read in Vermont Sports' latest print edition, and will be posted online soon.
At Bowdoin, Williams majored in biology and minored in earth and oceanographic science. After graduating in 2021, she moved to Europe to begin a graduate program in climate change science at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. After living in Copenhagen for the past nine months, she is now in the French Alps and working at a small environmental consulting firm focused on the intersection of climate change, geopolitics, and national security. She also works part-time for the Woodwell Climate Research Center on climate policy and risk analysis. Outside of school and work, she's been freelance writing for a couple of outdoor sports magazines and brands, climbing, and training for a big trail race in France.