This is where some of America’s best hiking boots are made

Rising up from the heart of New Hampshire, where the state’s main highway intersects the Appalachian Trail, are the woodlands and ranges of the White Mountain National Forest: a mix of rolling hills blanketed by trees and exposed ridges dominated by the cathedral of Mount Washington. Standing 6,288 feet above sea level, it’s the largest geological feature in the region, and the highest peak in New England by nearly 2,000 feet. Ever since the summit was first reached by the Englishman Darby Field in 1642, the mountain has been a lodestone and proving ground for hikers, climbers, skiers and every other elevation-seeking adventurer.

Compared to the peaks of famous American ranges like the Rockies, the Sierras and the Tetons, Washington’s height is modest. But the mountain is not to be taken lightly. For most of the 20th century, Washington’s barren summit held the record for the highest surface wind speed ever recorded — 231 miles per hour — until a tropical cyclone passed over a weather station off the coast of Western Australia in 1996. And despite its seemingly unimpressive elevation, the mountain is deadly. Washington has claimed more than 150 lives since 1849, making it statistically more perilous than Denali, which, at 20,310 feet, is North America’s tallest peak. But when the weather is fair, Mt. Washington is an idyllic backdrop for the surrounding region.

In the shadow of the mountain, 15 miles to the south, lies the village of Intervale. It’s one of those waypoint towns common in New England’s northern states: less a town, more a group of buildings along a major thoroughfare and a scattering of homes spread across a spiderweb of roads both dirt and paved. That thoroughfare is Route 302, also known in the region as the White Mountain Highway, or, deeper into the mountains, the Crawford Notch Road. And less than a quarter mile from 302 sits Peter Limmer & Sons, a decades-old, family-operated shop that makes what is possibly the most coveted hiking boot in the world.

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