Archives - December, 2011



26 Dec 11

We’re taking a little break from blogging for the holidays, but we’ll be back soon. We’re looking forward to another exciting year of hiking and outreach in 2012!

Happy Holidays from all of us at 2020 Vision Quest!

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19 Dec 11

By Randy Pierce

The holiday season is upon us–with all the joy, excitement, and yes, potential pressures of the times. I very much wanted to wish all of my family, friends, and the many fantastic supporters of 2020 Vision Quest a “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holiday.” It is often the season of both giving and reflecting upon our many gifts, and I hope that all of us are able to appreciate the merit of both. Even with the challenges of present times, I very much believe we can choose to concentrate on achieving that which is most vital and real to us. We can choose to plan and take steps along a path to bring even more happiness, joy, and success to us all in the future.

In the coming week, Quinn and I will embark upon the first steps on our next journey. We are going to make a concerted effort to hike some of New Hampshire’s beautiful mountain trails over the winter. There is a peace and serenity about a winter wonderland which revitalizes my mind and spirit. There is a quiet calm in the winter wilderness which adds a majestic inspiration to many mountain moments. So as winter arrives officially on December 22, we will undertake our first winter hike of the 4,000 foot peaks with Mt. Tecumseh.

Winter hiking provides a different experience than hiking during the rest of the year. Snow-covered trails actually ease some aspects of my hiking. Snow fills in the crevices and covers the twisty rocks and roots that make my footing so difficult, leaving a smooth surface upon which I can tread more freely. Though the snow is low presently, the eventual pack of snow will help me very much on these trails. I’m very glad that my frequent hiking companion Bob Hayes will join us for these opportunities.

While these are not “official” 2020 Vision Quest hikes, we’ll still run the Spot Technology to allow folks to watch our progress online. We’ll still blog about the experiences on a reasonably regular basis and our social media will follow the excursions. In part, these hikes are training for the efforts which will resume next May. We are also doing this for the adventure and new experiences which this winter can offer while Quinn is in the prime of his hiking prowess, and I am poised to fully appreciate the gifts this world can offer my adventurous spirit.

My wish for all of you this holiday season and well beyond is to fully appreciate the real treasures in your world and to actively seek out the means to share and appreciate many more ahead of you. We’ll look forward to sharing our adventure with you as we go along. Thank you all for being a part of my life and our community here at 2020 Vision Quest!

Happy Holidays!

Randy & the Mighty Quinn

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12 Dec 11

By Randy Pierce

This winter, Quinn and I plan to undertake some hikes of the 48 4,000-footers in New Hampshire. Hiking them in the winter is vastly different than other times of the year, but promises to be equally rewarding. Experiencing them in a different season will help our appreciation for hiking these incredible mountains grow in new ways. It will also give us conditioning and experience to help with the upcoming 2020 Vision Quest hikes during the spring and summer.

In our undertaking of these winter hikes, we are following in the footsteps of those who have gone down this path before, both human and canine. In this realization, there is also some sadness for those who have also done so and are no longer with us.

Brutus, the accomplished and beloved mountain-climbing dog. Image by Steve Smith.

Through the online forum “Views from the Top,” a gathering point for the hiking community where we’ve shared a great deal and gained much support for our efforts, we have become familiar with the tales of Brutus and Kevin Rooney. Brutus, a Newfoundland Dog, was the first dog recorded to have finished the Winter 48. With considerable planning by his handler Kevin Rooney, he did it a second time in a single winter. This is a tremendous accomplishment and earned Brutus considerable and well deserved distinction. He and Kevin found a route up Owl’s Head which is now commonly called the “Brutus Bushwhack” since it is the best route to avoid the challenges of the Owl’s Head Slide. Over the last decade, Brutus became a well-known and beloved fixture of the White Mountain climbing community.

A dog’s life span is unfortunately considerably shorter than our own, and Brutus’s storied life came to an end this past week. A memorial on the “Views from the Top” forum is a pages-long tribute to the many who appreciated this beloved animal. The stories and photographs represent the bonds of community which can enhance all of our lives when developed well.

I know when the hikes are right for Quinn by how eagerly his tail is wagging when he approaches them. Brutus’s example shows clearly that these are reasonable climbs for a dog. Quinn has more mental challenges in the process since he is leading me (Brutus was not a guide dog), but Quinn is eager to follow in Brutus’s impressive pawprints. I never knew Brutus personally, but I know the thrill of companionship and teamwork involved in accomplishing goals together. I also know a fair bit of the wonder of the White Mountains, and without question I know the incredible love, devotion, and fun of sharing our lives with an incredible dog.

My heart goes out to Kevin Rooney and all who loved Brutus, but I firmly believe that the experiences and memories we keep are always our immediate “rainbow bridge” of connection to those we have lost. Thank you to Brutus and Kevin for your vision and for sharing it with us all along the way!

For another tribute to Brutus, check out the blog of Steve Smith, owner of Mountain Wanderer Map and Bookstore and friend of Kevin Rooney and Brutus.

Kevin and Brutus, the best of friends. Image by Steve Smith.

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5 Dec 11

By Randy Pierce

Foster a puppy and help change lives--including your own.

How does a puppy get to become as incredible as the Mighty Quinn? It all begins with a puppy raiser opening his or her heart and home to a little bundle of energy. This means committing to educate, socialize and guide the puppy into a promising future.

The relationship and bond between raiser and pup will become the foundation of all the life lessons the puppy will need for his incredible career. This is no small task, so to offer assistance, Guiding Eyes for the Blind organizes puppy raising regions from Maine to North Carolina. They establish a strong support system which allows them to help anyone, regardless of prior experience, successfully raise a puppy!

Puppy raisers come from all walks of life, with many different motivations. Couples, families, students and individuals are all part of the success stories of guide dog teams. These amazing animals will spend from the time they are about 8 weeks old to 18 months old in the keeping of these special people. In this time, they will blossom into confident, curious, intelligent, and (best of all) loving dogs ready to embark on a priceless journey.

After their fostering is over, they go to guide training at the school for six months more. When their training is complete, the school invites puppy raisers to attend the puppy “graduation.” Raisers proudly observe the results of all their generous efforts to change someone’s world.

I can readily attest to the success of this program: the freedom, safety, independence, and companionship Quinn give me as my guide are a fundamental part of my life.

Raise a puppy, change a life!

Guiding Eyes has a slogan: “Raise a Puppy, Change a Life!” Here are some experiences of present raisers; it is clear that the life they change is often their own!

Sue and Fred Hurwitz

“It’s so enriching to watch the puppies grow into responsible guide dogs.”

Gauthier Family

“Our main goal in doing this is to offer something back to the community, something tangible. We want to help improve the quality of someones life. We hope to also encourage our children to develop empathy and strong moral character.

“In the short time that Jefferson has lived with us our lives have changed a lot: the kids have had to become more responsible.”

Peggy Farrar

“GEB has been so rewarding and my pups have brought so much laughter, love, and happiness. They have truly changed my life.”

So if you have ever given thought to having a puppy, consider how much more powerful and significant an experience you may have if you give a home to a “Quinn in training”!

The next generation!

For more information about being a part of this team, you can visit the Guiding Eyes for the Blind website at www.guidingeyes.org or call them at 1-866-GEB-LABS. If you are near the New Hampshire region where Quinn makes his home with me, you can also call Regional Coordinator Bill leBlanc at: 603 801-2117.

All potential raisers are required to complete a series of pre-placement classes and a week-long sit of a pup already in the program before receiving their first puppy. The next orientation for this region is December 18. Consider being a part of this wonderful program and having a dog as marvelous as Quinn guiding you along your own journey!

The puppies are waiting for you!

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