Barry Matulaitis is the first known Mainer to complete the 770 — hiking Northeast peaks with elevations of at least 3,000 feet.

Matulaitis, editor of The Franklin Journal and the Livermore Falls Advertiser, grew up on his parents’ 100 acres in a remote part of Phillips. He’s always been interested in exploring and moving through the woods.

“My parents gave me the latitude to go out on my own,” he said. “I would try to get myself to a point where I’d have a difficult time getting back home. I liked exploring the trees, plants and animals.” 

Matulaitis fished and hunted with his dad, Ben. The first mountain he hiked with his father was Mount Battie in Camden.

“The weather wasn’t great, but come hell or high water I was determined to get to the top. It was fogged in when we reached the summit, but it still intrigued me,” he said.

The first mountain attempted with his mother, Pat, was Old Blue (north of Andover) when he was 9.  

“My husband wanted to fish while on a camping trip,” Pat said. “I asked Barry if he wanted to hike a mountain. It was so foggy we didn’t finish. We had no food, no water, nothing. That’s where it all started.”

The first 3,000-foot mountain Matulaitis climbed was The Owl in Baxter State Park on July 24, 1990.

“I was on a camping trip with Camp Mechuwana, a church camp,” he said.

After that first 3,000-foot climb, he said he pestered his parents to take him on other hiking trips. They obliged, climbing a variety of peaks in Western Maine. 

During his senior year at Lyndon State College in Vermont, he discovered a book with a list of New England’s 100 highest peaks.

“I thought it was intriguing and set out to do the New England 100 highest. I never set out to do the 770, but one list built on another,” he said.

In 2002 while working for The Irregular, a Kingfield newspaper, Matulaitis met two men from Quebec on his way to hike East Kennebago in Rangeley. 

“I walked in (on the access road), passed a couple of cars with Quebec license plates,” Matulaitis said. “I came across a couple of guys on mountain bikes speaking French. Karl Sanfacon approached me and started a conversation. He said they were planning to ride their bikes as far as they could and then bushwhack. He asked if I was doing the 100 highest, then we each went on our way.” 

Matulaitis said he later got a business card from Karl, a member of a backpacking team that included Karl’s brother, Danny Sanfacon.

“A couple of weeks later Karl, Danny and I did a hike together,” Matulaitis said. “We’ve been friends ever since.” 

With his new friends’ assistance, Matulaitis continued to work on the 100 highest. He finished the list on Sept. 18, 2004. “Karl, Danny, two of their friends and my mom were there,” he said.

Karl said, “We were proud of his accomplishment. We were very happy to be there. It was such a great memory, especially because in 2004, me, my brother Danny and a few other friends also finished the New England 100, on different dates. Barry was there for us, too.”

The following year Matulaitis was looking for another long-term goal.

“I heard of the crazy list known as the 770 and said I would tackle that,” he said.

He made progress on the list over the years, even while his work responsibilities increased. He became editor of the Livermore Falls Advertiser, then took over as editor of The Franklin Journal before being named editor of both newspapers.

“I didn’t get to hike as much per year, but I kept chipping away at the list,” he said. “It all came down to the wire for me. I wanted to complete the 770 before my 40th birthday (Dec. 22).”

On Saturday, Oct. 7, he reached the peak of Kearsarge North Mountain near North Conway, New Hampshire. 

And he had reached his goal, two and half months before his 40th birthday. 

“It was an emotional day for me,” he said. “My mom has been by my side supporting me through all of this. I was in tears when I reached the summit. I couldn’t believe it was over, that I had achieved the dream I had worked for for so many years.”

Matulaitis has already set new goals. He anticipates completing New Hampshire’s 200 highest peaks by the end of this year. He wants to hike the New England 100 in the wintertime, for which there is a special recognition.

“It will take me at least two winters to do,” he said.

Next February he has a hike planned on Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.

Matulaitis also wants to climb each state’s highest peak. He has done 35 so far and expects it to take some years to complete. Some are out West and are difficult climbs, he said.

“As far as I can confirm, I’m the 10th person to complete the 770 list. I believe I’m the first person ever from Maine,” he said.

Looking back, he said he is proudest of the mountains he climbed alone using only a map and a compass. He believes using GPS puts a barrier between himself and nature.

“If it worked in the past, it can work for me,” he said.

He said he had to be aware of his surroundings at all times, being especially cautious in the fall during moose rutting season. The only time he felt threatened was when he came across a pine marten rather suddenly. It growled and he backed away slowly so as not to infringe on its territory.

He saw two bears while hiking, but both ran away quickly. Seeing an enormous barred owl illuminated by his head lamp, while hiking in the Adirondacks, was extra special.

“There were times when I was afraid,” he said. “Being alone out there, the mind can wander. I was always concerned about getting out of the woods before dark. Once I had to bushwhack at night.”

Matulaitis practiced the theory of redundancy. He always took along extra supplies, prepared well beforehand, made lists of what he would need and studied the trail. If needed, he would ask questions of fellow hikers.

Matulaitis thanked his mother and late father for nurturing his love of the environment. He has followed their practice of low-impact hiking.

“They were always supportive,” he said. “Although my mom worried, she was gratified that I was partaking in a healthy activity that was getting me out to see places, more of the country.”

In sharing information about his accomplishment, he said, “I’m breaking with a tradition of not talking about hiking feats to show a different side of me. It’s a way to express the joy hiking has given me. It’s been a way to cope with deaths in my family and pressures at work. I want to make a difference in my community.”

[email protected]

Barry Matulaitis recently completed the 770, hiking the 3,000 foot elevation peaks in the North East. While he completed most of the hikes alone using just a map and a compass, several significant hikes were made with Canadian friends he met in 2002. Pictured from left are friends Karl Sanfacon, Matulaitis and Danny Sanfacon.

Wallface Pond, in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. In the distance is MacNaughton Mountain.

A view from the summit of Niagara Mountain, in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.

Barry Matulaitis, left, finishes his New England 100 highest peaks on Mt. Mansfield in Vermont on Sept. 18, 2004. At right is his mother, Pat Matulaitis.

Left to right: Danny Sanfacon, Barry Matulaitis, and Karl Sanfacon celebrating Matulaitis’ completion of the Northeast 111 4,000-foot peaks on the summit of Mt. Marcy in the Adirondacks in New York on Sept. 8, 2007.

Barry Matulaitis with his father, Ben, on a hike of Bald Mountain near Weld in June of 1991.

Barry Matulaitis on top of Saddleback Mountain near Rangeley on July 24, 1991. He was 13 years old at the time.

Barry Matulaitis
 
770 start and finish dates
 
First 3,000 foot peak hiked in the Northeast and in Maine
 
July 24, 1990: The Owl, Baxter State Park
 
First 3,000 foot peak hiked in New Hampshire
 
September 29, 1996: Mt. Washington
 
First 3,000 foot peak hiked in Vermont
 
September 20, 1997: Burke Mountain
 
First 3,000 foot peak hiked in New York
 
October 12, 2002: Allen Mountain
 
First 3,000 foot peak hiked in Massachusetts
 
May 5, 2007: Mt. Greylock
 
First 3,000 foot peak hiked in Pennsylvania
 
April 25, 2008: Glade Mountain
 
Lists finished
 
White Mountain 4,000 footers (48 peaks total)
 
Aug. 14, 2004: Owl’s Head Mountain, New Hampshire
 
New England 4,000 footers and New England 100 highest peaks
 
September 18, 2004: Mt. Mansfield, Vermont
 
Massachusetts 3,000 footers
 
May 5, 2007: Saddle Ball Mountain
 
Northeast 111/115
 
Note: This list is sometimes referred to as the Northeast 115 to include all of the Adirondack 46 peaks originally considered 4,000-footers. Since the original survey, it has been discovered that four of the original 46 peaks are below 4,000 feet in elevation. However, the Adirondack 46er organization has maintained all of the peaks on the original list.
 
September 8, 2007: Mt. Marcy, New York
 
New Hampshire 100 highest peaks
 
October 6, 2007: The Captain, New Hampshire
 
Pennsylvania 3,000 footers
 
April 26, 2008: Blue Knob
 
Maine 3,000 footers
 
May 22, 2010: North Rain Mountain
 
Vermont 3,000 footers
 
November 4, 2012: West Dorset Mountain
 
Catskill 100 highest peaks
 
March 16, 2014: Olderbark Mountain
 
New York 3,000 footers and Adirondack 100 highest peaks
 
October 1, 2017: Wallface Mountain
 
New Hampshire 3,000 footers, New England 3,000 footers and Northeast 770
 
October 7, 2017: Kearsarge North
 
Breakdown of peaks by state: Maine, 165; Massachusetts, 2; New Hampshire, 175; New York, 315; Pennsylvania, 4; Vermont, 109
 
Other statistics:
 
*Of the his first ascents of peaks on the list, Matulaitis climbed 721 of them alone. He has made multiple hikes up many of the mountains.
 
*About 60 percent of the peaks on the list involve off-trail travel to reach the summit.
 
*All of the mountains climbed solo were summited using only a map and compass, without the aid of GPS.
 
*Over the course of his adventure, Matulaitis used six different cars. Between hiking the 770 and other driving, he has put more than 30,000 miles on his vehicles each year.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.