By Randy Pierce
No blind man had ever done the NH 48! As such, doing it in winter–or more dramatically, a single winter–was a tremendous goal and accomplishment. Along with the many well appreciated congratulations has come a significant question: so what is the point of finishing the 2020 Vision Quest hikes of the 48 in the summer season as well?
This is a fair question to which there are several answers. For me, the first and most important reason of all is to continue to experience the tremendous challenge and enjoyment each hike provides. These magnificent mountains and their trails provide vast and diverse rewards in the moment of each expedition. Each trip interlaces the wonders of nature with the bonds of friendship created by the different people coming together on the particular hike. I believe there will be tremendous value and benefit to the sharing of these experiences with our 2020 VQ community.
Our original goal was to summit all 48 in the summer seasons over the course of the ten years from 2010 until 2020. We believed in the possibility and as we experienced the hikes, we realized we would likely succeed in less time. In fact, given the present schedule, we expect to finish in the summer of 2013.
What is honestly and a little sadly uncertain is whether Quinn will still be able to perform his incredible guide work during that final summer, as he will be nearing possible retirement age. This, plus among other factors, are what motivated the single season success of this winter.
Why is hiking in summer different than winter? Summer creates different and significantly more difficult challenges for the blind hiker. See the pictures below to illustrate my point:
While winter presents a different set of challenges for everyone–and realistically a set of blind-specific challenges as well–the basic task of walking is considerably more absurd when the snow is off the ground.
I really believe in the notion of “Challenge as Opportunity and Opportunity as Challenge!” I hope to enjoy the value of a hike for the rest of my life, and in regards to the 2020 Vision Quest, I cannot even begin to consider that the heart of the challenge is met yet.
In undertaking the goal of the 48, I intend to take on all aspects of the challenge and that includes completing the original goal under the impressively more difficult conditions of the summer. It really will be a fantastic complement to our winter accomplishment. While I certainly do not expect the fanfare of our winter success, each trip will be full of challenge and reward. I will find more than sufficient cause to appreciate and celebrate each and every peak along the journey.
“Live Now” is an approach I believe has tremendous positive impact upon the lives of all those who can choose it. I hope that each and every step of the 2020 Vision Quest can help us to show the merits of that very approach. It’s always more about the journey than the destination. I delight in our destination of all NH 48 in the summer and the winter. I hope you’ll be joining us for the journey!