rusty blog

Imp Face looking over Pinkham Notch at the Presidential Range

Content provided by Rusty Vanneman, CLS Chief Investment Officer

Last weekend I traversed most of the Wildcat and Carter ridges in the New Hampshire White Mountains – in one day. Somehow, I convinced some good friends to join me.  It was the latest version of our once-upon-a-time annual “Death March.”  This year that description was again apt. The hike was grueling, but it was also quite satisfying.

The hike had many highlights. We saw a rainbow that seemed to lie flat on a mountain with the end appearing to land near where we stood (we weren’t even tempted to look for the pot of gold – the ascent directly beforehand was so intense!).  We watched clouds in the valley below slowly rise and begin to swirl around and engulf us like Stephen King’s Mist – to only quickly turn around as if they were actually scared of us.

Conversations among us were another highlight, with lots of talk about family, past hikes, music, and given the crew of hikers, the financial markets. Our crew had a variety of investment management folks, ranging from a portfolio manager at one of the world’s largest investment management firms to the director of research at a large high-net-worth RIA, to a prominent college endowment manager. Given our varied backgrounds, and the investment books we’ve read (or are reading), the conversations were enlightening and entertaining.

Hiking a long trail in the mountains is a lot like an individual’s investment experience. There is a Point A and a Point B. There is a plan (or at least there should be) to get there.  And, the trail is usually not flat, but often going up or down, sometimes sharply and painfully (CLS Analyst Sierra Morris had a recent blog entry on how volatile the market typically is – especially relative to the economy itself). Investing can also be a painful journey, but as long as one holds to their plan, they’ll usually get to where they need to go on schedule.

There are lots of reasons to hike mountains: something to accomplish, a way to connect with nature, it’s quality time with family and friends, the ability to create a flow experience of sorts when one finds a good hiking groove, and many more reasons. Personally, I find those all are valid reasons. That said, my competitive nature compels me to try and beat the “book time,” which is a reference to how long the guidebooks say it should take to hike those particular trails.  On this particular hike, despite varying weather and some muscle cramps in our crew, we only missed beating the  book time by 4 minutes!

In the end, despite not quite beating the book time, we stuck to our plan, accomplished our goals, and had an enjoyable and memorable journey.




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