Archives - September, 2011



29 Sep 11

By Rob Webber

The roar of applause upon raising the American flag gave me goose bumps up my entire back, finishing at the base of my neck. Hiking Mt. Moosilauke to raise the American flag on 9/11 as part of the Flags on the 48 program, I wasn’t sure what emotions I would feel. I anticipated feeling patriotism, some sadness, and being filled with very reflective thoughts. However I did not anticipate the tremendous pride I would feel being part of a team that displayed a tribute to our fallen heroes of September 11. The jubilation of the – I’m guessing – one hundred other hikers as we raised Old Glory on the summit was a tremendous feeling I’ll never forget.

The group assembles the flag on the summit.

We had a terrific team of hikers on September 11, 2011, with each member carrying part of the flagpole, flag or rigging to the summit. Once there, we each took a job we thought we could execute well – assembling the pole, deploying anchors in the rock or preparing the lines. Given the size of our flag (6’ x 10’) and typical White Mountain winds, we secured our monument with no less than seven lines. I think it could have withstood 50 mph winds(!), but fortunately we only experienced a fraction of that. In fact, while the winds at noon were fairly strong (enough to make our flag fly very majestically), by the end of our stay the winds were not even strong enough to make the Stars and Stripes fly at full attention.

There certainly was some sadness during our tribute. Thinking of the reason we were there is enough to make the toughest drill sergeant misty. We had some wonderful remarks by people who had special connections to 9/11. Those were excellent speeches, but I couldn’t help but wiping away the start of a tear thinking of all the people we lost ten years ago, and how some of their close relatives were with us today.

The hikers make new friends at the summit.

One feeling I did not anticipate (but probably should have) was the warm camaraderie we shared with so many hikers we met for the first time while on Moosilauke. Hiking is an activity which lends itself so well to meeting new friends and sharing experiences, and this setting only enhanced that feeling. Our commitment flying the flag on the summit from noon until 2:00 pm made conversing with people easier. I can’t imagine we would have spent close to three hours on the summit had it not been for the Flags on the 48 program, but in doing so it forced us to relax, meet so many new people, share special experiences, and have long conversations about a myriad of topics – not just the two or three minute typical chat you might have with someone in that case.

My day on Moosilauke was one filled with emotions I expected and didn’t expect, and gave me memories I will have forever.

The group flies the flag on the tenth anniversary of 9/11/01.

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26 Sep 11

In this high-technology era of audio options and scanning power, some might ask: shouldn’t we move away from such an archaic system as Braille? This is not an uncommon question, especially in the mainstreaming of blind students and advent of talking computers as an aid. Why would students need to have the specialized training and challenging material acquisition for a Braille education?

One answer is that a deeper appreciation for understanding spelling and grammar is often lost in an all-audio interaction. Homonyms, for example, certainly prove a concern in the phonetic development of language. All too many blind people left without the benefit of Braile to develop their skills at spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure will often appear far less intelligent as a result. This is an incredible limitation in an already challenging society. The statistics are staggering to illustrate this point. Roughly 81% of legally blind Americans are unemployed. Of that 19% who are employed, it has been estimated that nearly 80% of them have learned to use Braille.

While there are many other compelling statistics, I thought I’d relay an amusing but powerful anecdote about a time in which the use of Braille would have been helpful. In 2006, I participated in a project for the Library of Congress in Washington DC. The hotel did not have Braille on the elevator nor on the floors or doors. This meant I had to have a staff member teach me the elevator buttons and walk me to my room. Fortunately, Quinn can learn the room location readily enough and so we were set for our multi-day visit. On day two, I pressed the button I’d been shown and when the elevator stopped and the doors opened, I got off. Quinn led me to the door, where I put the electronic key card into the door slot. Of course, Murphy’s Law required I flip the card to all of the four options before getting the right direction to unlock the door. When I finally got the correct orientation, the door opened to my push and I strode into the room… completely terrifying the poor person who actually owned the room and had simply opened the door after hearing someone fumbling outside it. Now, a six-foot-four man in dark glasses with a dog surging into your room is certainly a moment to capture your attention. Fortunately, communication eventually allowed us to resolve that this was the fourth, not fifth floor, and Quinn had led me to the room directly below my own. What had happened? It turns out that there were two separate elevators, each with a different arrangement for their buttons, and the staff person hadn’t thought of that when teaching me!

If they had the required Braille in place, this problem would have been resolved even with my limited Braille skills. (This resolution would, of course, require that I have a Braille education.) For me, it was fortunately an amusing diversion which had no serious results. But for many without Braille, the situation would not have been resolved with the required Braille labels. Situations like this could represent a near-complete restriction of their mobility and independence.

Statistics can often mislead by their representation. With all the growing technology in this day and age, it can seem that we no longer need Braille. I hope that anyone who wants to make choices away from the option and use for Braille takes the time to evaluate the impact and reality thoroughly before making decisions. While this includes the general public, education systems, and government officials, I hope it also includes each and every blind person who evaluates whether they will put in the effort to learn this incredibly valuable tool. Most of all, I hope those who make the decision for children with a visual impairment will realize the powerful and positive impact their choice will have upon the child.

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19 Sep 11

By Geri Hayes

I’m trying to remember my expectations of this hike in the weeks prior to the actual event. Randy and my husband Bob had been running together frequently this summer. Knowing how much we both hike, Randy talked to Bob about leading a hike with 2020 Vision Quest. Plans slowly started to come together, and we finally agreed on a date to tackle the Wildcats.

Wildcat ridge earlier in the summer.

My husband Bob would be primary ‘leader’ and he asked if I’d bring up the rear in case the group spread out. We’d be hiking over 9 miles and wanted to be sure that we kept a pretty steady pace. The plan was to meet at Wildcat ski area to car spot, then start the hike a few miles north at the 19 Mile Brook trailhead. We’d cross Wildcat Ridge hitting Wildcats A>D and descend via the Pole Cat ski trail.

Bob had done the Wildcats a few weeks ago with another friend, and the two of us were recently on 19 Mile Brook Trail. 19 MB was rockier than I remembered from prior years, yet a fairly comfortable grade. Other than the steep section approaching Wildcat A, and the C-D drop and summit, I felt this would be a fairly comfortable hike. I knew it would be slower than if it were only the two of us, but I’ve seen Randy in action running a few races and the trails at Mines Falls; I knew he was quite fit and ambitious to say the least!

Of course, this was all pre-Irene. And sadly, those thoughts were also ‘pre’ Bob spraining his ankle late on Sept 3rd!

We start out at the Wildcats on Sep. 4.

Based on initial reports we knew that 2 of the bridges were out, yet we expected the trail to be in fairly good condition. No blowdowns had been reported and the trail was open. With Bob out of action from his ankle, I would be group leader. Luckily several friends planned to join us on the hike – Liza, Darlene, and Melissa, all of whom have rather extensive history hiking in the Whites and other areas. Them being there brought a huge level of comfort to me. Besides Randy and his wife Tracy (and Quinn of course), we were joined by Cathy and Mike. Cathy, a long time friend of Randy’s going back to high school days, and Mike a newer acquaintance from one of Randy’s UNH student collaboration.

After introductions, car spotting, and initial photos, we set off on 19 MB a few minutes before 9am. The first section of the trail is quite rocky, then smooths out rather nicely. Or rather it did before Irene. Sadly we found lengthy and deep washouts in the middle of the trail… this on the supposedly ‘easy’ section. We kept a good pace nonethless, and I was impressed watching Randy navigate the trail with Quinn. Being tall, Randy has rather long feet – I wondered if this extra platform helped him keep balance on the uneven terrain.

Geri leads the way.

In a rather rocky area, we decided I’d take a turn leading Randy. He placed his left hand on the back of my pack, and used his pole in his right. All of a sudden, my preliminary thoughts of how smoothly this would work went out the window. And all I can see are the usual obstacles greatly multiplied – rocks lurking and waiting to jump out at Randy’s unsuspecting shins and knees, holes ready to toss him off balance. As we start out I’m giving Randy too many details. He has the patience of a saint (more like a room full of saints) and helps me along the way to understand what verbal tips are necessary, informative, or really not needed. It takes some time and we fall in (and out) of good rhythm along the way. It’s probably not until near the end of the hike when I start trusting myself more and understand Randy’s amazing skill reading the trail from my backpack movement and needing fewer instructions.

The whole team took turns leading along the way. While this gave us a break, it also put Randy into training mode with us novices over and over again. Mike led up to the junction with Wildcat Ridge Trail. Darlene coordinated the steeps from there up to A. This section, although only .7 of a mile long, is very steep with some fairly narrow trail sections. The team spread out here, although we were in site of each other to the top. High fives, a bit of whooping, and we were beyond happy to have this difficult section behind us as we savored a few minutes on the summit of A. Sadly the weather was not clearing and the lovely overlook towards the northeast was only fog. Those here for the first time had to trust us about the spectacular view. Quick bites to eat, and time to head out again.

The clouds rolled in, somewhat obscuring the view.

While I generally do NOT carry a phone on a hike, I brought one this time so we could try to touch base with Bob along the way. No service on A, however it rang a few minutes later. Bob called to advise us about a band of clouds/rain heading our way – we should expect rain in another half hour, lasting 20 minutes or so. A few grabbed jackets in preparation, although with the heat most of us just put them near the top of our pack within easy reach. Miraculously, we only got a few drops early on and it actually felt good.

The A-C sections along the ridge are rolling ups and downs. Tracy led Randy here and we later found out this is the furthest distance she has lead him. Liza bravely took her turn and found herself leading the final climb to C and down the steep rocky section beyond. She managed the tricky sections and helpfully advisesd us that we were crossing bog bridge number 574 of the day. It started sprinkling, however with tree coverage it felt more like heavy mist. Most of us managed without rain coats and were quite comfortable.

Crossing one of the many precarious bridges.

I found myself back in the lead as we headed up the final approach to D summit, the top of Wildcat Mountain. I heard a groan from Randy as one foot slipped off the side of a bog bridge – this one is my fault for not warning and I felt awful. He regrouped for a moment and was ready to press on. I’m thankful he wears heavy gaitors and wonder if he’d stand for football padding. This approach is fairly steep and rocky, Randy navigated several areas free climbing, using both his hands on the rocks with some verbal advice in the transition areas. We knew we were getting close to the summit and finally heard cheering from some of the team in front of us. What a wonderful sound!

A few minutes later, Randy is climbing the stairs to the platform on the peak. More cheering, hugs, photos, and snacks. It’s still a rather dismal day weather-wise, but not by the look of accomplishment on the faces of entire team. Mike won the prize for the dirtiest pants and we are all quite helpful with suggestions to make him presentable for any stops later enroute home. Our last summit activity is being entertained by Randy, Quinn, and Delilah (Melissa’s black lab) as they play a bit of tug of war with one of Quinn’s favorite toys. Quinn politely shares, but keeps hold of his end of the ring.  Randy finished with a few minutes of special time with Quinn, and it’s time to head out to finish the hike. We’ve got over 2 miles down Pole Cat trail to the parking lot below.

The dogs play tug of war at the top of the summit.

We enjoyed a rather easy and comfortable walk down. We were all quite tired, but we finished in the daylight and actually got a few views of the peaks across the way. We saw Adams and Madison, and enjoyed the various shades of gray between the different layers of ridges and peaks. We reached the parking lot shortly after 7pm, so just over 10 hours of hiking. What an accomplishment and learning experience for all of us! I only wish Bob could have been with us to experience this amazing day.

To recap: we struggled, we learned, we laughed; we bled a little, we probably swore a few times, and we all succeeded. I am humbled by Randy’s ambition and patience, I have new respect for a guide dog’s skills and training. I am thankful for the company and support of good friends. And I greatly respect Tracy for her strength to manage her own hike while entrusting her beloved partner to us. A very memorable day for me, thank you all.

The triumphant group!

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12 Sep 11

There are times in our lives which leave an indelible mark upon our memory. September 11, 2001 is a poignant example of such a time. I can still readily draw forth the stunned shock of the moment the tragedy became real for me. Today, ten years later, I am gathering with many of my community to celebrate our tribute to 9/11 and the positive impact of the choices we have made to take steps forward.

On 9/11/11, we joined the Flags on the 48 and raised our American flag in honor of all the people who dedicate their lives to making a better community and country. We are privileged to be a part of a community which chooses to respond to this tragedy by giving honor to the sacrifices of the many lost and the many left behind with tremendous wounds upon their hearts. The emotional surge of grief is part of the remembrance and dedication, but so to is the swell of pride and hope as we choose to honor the past while creating a community bound by hope and a determination to emphasize the positives within humanity.

On 9/12, one day after our hike, we will gather at the 99 Restaurant in Nashua, NH ostensibly to partake of a 2020 Vision Quest Fund Raiser. We’ll celebrate and commemorate the events of our hike and the powerful meanings behind so many of the experiences which have led to this point. We’ll feast and drink and watch the New England Patriots open their NFL season on Monday Night Football. If you join us and present the form below to your server, 15% of your bill will be donated to our 501(c)(3) organization.

http://2020visionquest.org/DiningForACause.pdf

But there is a more important purpose behind our gathering. The celebration of people coming together will demonstrate the power of community. We will share our grief and our hopes. We will remind ourselves that we may influence many aspects of our lives and, most powerfully of all, that we may always choose the manner in which we will respond to any event within our lives. The power of that choice will have a greater impact upon our lives than any event could ever have. As we did on our Flags on the 48 hike and in our 9/11 response, we choose to take positive steps forward. To quote Robert Frost in the closing of his famous poem about choices on diverging roads: “That has made all the difference.”

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9 Sep 11

By Jenifer Tidwell

The unimaginable happens.  Then what?

Ten years ago Sunday, a young Brooklyn firefighter named Chris Pickford lost his life when the Tower 2 fell. He was 32 years old. I’m a mother, and my heart recoils at the thought of losing my son in such a way. Yet it happened to so, so many people that day — we just can’t imagine all that pain, thousands of times over.

Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. And barely two weeks ago, Hurricane Irene struck here. Like many readers of this blog, I indirectly know people who were lost to those disasters, not to mention homes and other beloved places.

We hold the funerals. We mourn, we clean up, we rebuild, and the river of time moves implacably on.

Later come the anniversaries and the memorials. To me, these hold a different meaning. Removed in time from the immediate impact, memorials call us not to recover, but to change. They ask us: how has this disaster changed you? And how does it change the world through you?

Tribute to 9/11.

This Sunday, 2020 Vision Quest will take part in one of those memorials — the Flags on the 48 9/11 Memorial Hike. Of course, all of our hikes aspire to be part of something bigger than “just a hike” (we’re raising funds for two charities), but in this 9/11 hike, we’re taking part in a collective effort that really is far bigger than ourselves. Each of the 48 4000-foot peaks in New Hampshire will fly an American flag carried up by a hiking group. This carefully organized effort has been going on for nine years, occurring on or near the anniversary of 9/11.

Chris Pickford’s family is entrusting to us the flag that draped his coffin ten years ago. We will carry that flag up Mt. Moosilauke, and we will fly it from the summit from noon to 2:00. His cousin plans to hike with us, and we welcome him warmly.

How has 9/11 changed you? How do you respond to the anniversary this year?

For many people, simply remembering is response enough. There’s nothing wrong with that; sometimes it’s all we can manage, and remembering is important. Others respond by changing their lives entirely, such as by joining the armed services, or by working overseas to defeat poverty and illness and ignorance. God bless them all.

For me, the Flags on the 48 is certainly one way I respond. I’ve hiked it almost every year, and it moves me deeply each time. I admit that I don’t have the courage to work on the front lines against military threats or global poverty. But another way I can respond is to raise a child who understands how different people may share this world in peace, and who knows the meaning of honor, sacrifice, and courage.

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5 Sep 11

“What is your favorite summit?” is a common question of students during our interactive presentations. The literal answers to this question are given appropriate discussion and segue to the more meaningful aspects of our project. The more rewarding answers involve the heart of our vision: education. We climb summits primarily for the enjoyment of the experience and the demonstration of “Ability Awareness”. We share the tales, particularly in schools, to educate the benefit of believing in the potential in all of us as well as the power of problem solving to reach our goals. Perhaps the most powerful message we provide is the notion that our influence upon our world is significant, and yet more poignant still is being empowered to respond to adversity in ways which have the most positive impact upon our lives.

The delivery of this message through real world experiences and amusing anecdotes ensures an attentive audience. Students are challenged to suggest likely limitations before learning how problem solving creates possible solutions. When shown how a credible challenge enables achievement through the adversity, they are called to apply this to their own lives.

All of this is simple enough in concept, yet to observe it connecting is the most motivational part of the 2020 Vision Quest. It is our most meaningful “summit” by far. Much as we savor the teamwork and community of reaching a physical summit together, we similarly celebrate the teamwork which is helping us reach so many students. Each phone call or email requesting that we visit another school or providing us with the means to travel to new opportunities is a chance for more partners to join us by sharing and believing in our mission. Each of these new opportunities is a chance to make a difference in more lives.

Dear Randy and The Mighty Quinn,

As I write this I am still in awe of meeting both of you. I know I speak for many when I say that meeting you both the other day far surpassed our expectations!  Your presentation was inspiring, informative, humorous, and compelling. Your message was such an important one for all students and people in general to hear. You surely live life to the fullest!!

Michelle Croteau
Hampton, NH School Teacher

***

WOW! We were introduced to Randy through Bill LeBlanc from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. He brought him to visit with our 2nd graders after they read stories about Helen Keller and a poorly trained puppy. Randy connected with the kids in a way that we could not have imagined. The children had so many questions going into his presentation. The teachers observed the awe and respect the children immediately gave to Randy, as they sat silently, hanging on his every word. He truly showed the children that the trick to doing something hard is finding the obstacle and thinking creatively to get around it. They saw this through his sharing of his basketball skill, his skydiving friend’s solution and the Daytona 500 racer. These children left there knowing that the only limitation to our success is our own imagination! We cannot thank Randy enough!!

Jennifer Cutuli
Londonderry, NH School Teacher

So what is our next summit and who is part of Team 2020 making it a reality? Much of the answer may very well be up to you! We hope it will involve our educational outreach and more students and teachers changed by the experience.

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4 Sep 11

  • Height: 4422 feet
  • Date: Sep. 4, 2011
  • Trail: Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail, Wildcat Ridge Trail, Polecat Ski Trail.
  • Total hiking time: 10 hours
  • Weather: Foggy, cool, partly cloudy, occasional rain
  • Hike leader: Geri Hayes

The original plan was for Randy’s longtime friend and frequent hiking companion Bob Hayes to lead the hike, but a sprained ankle on Sep. 3 forced him to bow out at the last minute. Leading the trip was then left in the capable hands of his wife, Geri. The other people in the hiking group were Darlene, Liza, Melissa, Cathy, Mike, and of course Randy, his wife Tracy, and the Mighty Quinn.

The group started out before 9:00 a.m. at the head of the 19 Mile Brook trail. Sadly, the group found lengthy and deep washouts in the middle of the trail… this on the supposedly ‘easy’ section. They kept a good pace nonetheless.

Geri leads the way.

The whole team took turns leading along the way. Mike led up to the junction with Wildcat Ridge Trail. Darlene coordinated the steeps from there up to A. This section, although only .7 of a mile long, is very steep with some fairly narrow trail sections. The team spread out here, although they were in site of each other to the top. They spent a few minutes on the summit of A. Sadly the weather was not clearing and the view towards the northeast was only fog. Quick bites to eat, and time to head out again.

Shortly thereafter, Geri received a call from Bob to advise them about a band of clouds/rain heading their way — he warned that the group should expect rain in another half hour, lasting 20 minutes or so. All prepared with jackets in easy reach, but fortunately the team only experienced a few drops.

The A-C sections along the ridge are rolling ups and downs. Tracy led Randy here. Liza took her turn and found herself leading the final climb to C and down the steep rocky section beyond. She managed the tricky sections and helpfully advised us that we were crossing bog bridge number 574 of the day. It started sprinkling, but with the extensive tree coverage it felt more like heavy mist.

Geri led again as they headed up the final approach to D summit, the top of Wildcat Mountain. This approach is fairly steep and rocky, Randy navigated several areas free climbing, using both his hands on the rocks with some verbal advice in the transition areas. They knew they were getting close to the summit and finally heard cheering from some of the team in front of them.

A few minutes later, Randy is climbing the stairs to the platform on the peak. It was still a rather dismal day weather-wise, but accomplishment abounded on the faces of the entire team. After taking some time to rest, their last summit activity was to be entertained by Randy, Quinn, and Delilah (Melissa’s black lab) as they play a bit of tug of war with one of Quinn’s favorite toys. Randy finished with a few minutes of special time with Quinn, and it was time to head out to finish the hike.

The walk down 2 miles down Pole Cat Trail rather easy and comfortable. The group was quite tired, but they finished in the daylight and got views of the peaks across the way, including Adams and Madison. They reached the parking lot shortly after 7pm, finishing the hike in just over 10 hours.

Wildcat Mountain Facts

  • Up until 1860, Wildcat Mountain was named East Mountain.
  • The Wildcat Ski Area opened in 1958 with the first gondola lift in the country.
  • You can see 24 of the 48 4000-footers from the summit of Wildcat Mountain.
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1 Sep 11

by Randy Pierce

The mists on the mountains.

A mostly new group of Outdoor Education students with the University of New Hampshire signed up for a backpacking trip expecting several days in the White Mountains and particularly a journey across the Kinsman peaks. Along with their typical curriculum came the 2020 Vision Quest project to hopefully demonstrate a much more challenging aspect of their leadership journey. The four-day traverse would begin simply enough up the gentle Lonesome Lake trail and allow them to witness and admire the work of Quinn’s mountain guiding. Most seemed impressed enough by the AMC hut at Lonesome Lake but would be far more overwhelmed as the Fishin’ Jimmy trail unleashed a daunting challenge for the sighted. A few students chose to try some “blinded” steps with a human guide and realized quickly why the footing in the White’s is legendary. A couple even took short sections to guide me as we ended our day at the Kinsman Pond shelter where several outdoor education programs from Yale and Harvard also joined our camp. North and South Kinsman loomed large across the pond to the west and provided a stellar sunset as we settled into evening routines.

Student leaders closed out the day with discussions and activities to help us become better acquainted and enhance the bonds of community of our group. We would rely on each other as a team to perform all the activities of living and traversing this wilderness together. Most of these moments are personal for those on the trip and are part of the experiential learning which makes such undertakings so powerful. The care, trust, and confidence would be essential for the days ahead when the students would have the opportunity to guide me directly, which often gives people an entirely different understanding of the nature of a trail.

Early rising and weary students left the work of North Kinsman vastly to Quinn. It was impressive as an already difficult stretch of trail was further challenged by more night rain soaking the rocks and making them far more slippery. Reasonable time still allowed the group to use the ideal daytime weather and reach the gorgeous overlook of North Kinsman.

Gorgeous Kinsman overlook.

From here students took over for much of the rest of the trip down the gentler saddle to work up to South Kinsman in very reasonable time. A short way beyond brought us to lunch at another slightly less spectacular overlook. We used a compass, maps, and peaks to find our exact location on the trail and prepared for the most challenging leg of our journey as training helicopters began to take advantage of the perfect conditions to practice their emergency maneuvers. We hoped it wasn’t an omen as that descent beyond South Kinsman was as challenging as anything we’ve traversed, with the possible exception of the Owl’s Head slide. Student after student took on the challenge of guiding me and learned how much communication was essential to succeed as well as how mentally taxing it can be to guide on such tough trail. It was also clear how much more impressive only four miles of White Mountain trail is compared to any other similar distance. Arriving at Eliza Brook Shelter, we had come a tremendous distance as a group. We had worked through a significant amount of mud only to hear reports the next stretch of trail would be the most muddy any of us had ever experienced.

Quinn takes a break with one of his new friends.

Our longest mileage for any single day would take us through slightly less challenging ground but a vast amount of mud which needed to be traveled through cautiously. Many seemingly endless smaller peaks and cols led us eventually to the summit of Mt. Wolf. It was here that the susurrus of many separate wind patterns raised their voices all around us to soothe us with a bit of Nature’s own surround sound. From there, the long descent brought us to the Gordon Pond trail and an almost magical site of tranquility in the Wilderness. As the usual activities waned into darkness, a very large moose strolled down past our tarps and waded into the pond to feast on tall grasses as the final light faded. This was our last night together and we exchanged many personal thoughts on our shared experience. There was a dichotomy of emotion: civilization and comforts had an allure, but so did the desire to hold onto how much we had grown together. This group and this experience was nearing an end, which was unfortunately unavoidable, and already had a nostalgic hold upon most of us.

The final morning together was enshrouded in a thick fog which followed us for much of the day. Its surreal quality fit the mood of departure but much work remained. We had a long trail and a hope to cover it more quickly than any prior days. Brent took the lead and set as quick a pace as our more practiced teamwork could handle. We hit the zone and the distances were passing impressively. By the time the sun had cleared for a late morning snack, we checked the maps to try and determine our success. Maps do not always capture the many peaks and valleys of a trail, and this led to the misleading impression we had not gone as fast as it had seemed. Yet each person there believed differently from the feel of the speed. We had set a pace which slowed briefly for the toughest footing but sped impressively over any section which allowed us to and more than once we outdistanced the group around us. Thus, when moments later we arrived at our our half-mile remaining trail junction, it was to the astonishment of all, including Professor Brent Bell. So intent and determined had been his focus in the guiding we had nearly finished the trail faster than any of his prior trips over the same ground. The final steep descent was past but the group was  energized by the success. At the bottom much congratulatory sharing replaced the awe of our accomplishment. Two of the 4,000 foot peaks were achieved and along with it much more which won’t show on a list but will remain in my memory and hopefully the entire group who shared the experience.

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