Guest blogger: Spread the word (and the work) of the Walk for Sight

By Beth Foote

Randy and Alex, our team captain, in the Walk for Sight
Randy and Alex, our team captain, in the Walk for Sight

It was a cool, partly cloudy morning on Saturday, June 3 when the 2020 Vision Quest team gathered together in Concord, NH with 400+ other walkers for the 14th Annual Walk for Sight. This was my first experience participating at this yearly event hosted by Future in Sight (formerly New Hampshire Association for the Blind), one of the two organizations that 2020 Vision Quest supports with its fundraising and awareness efforts.

People all around me were reconnecting with old friends and greeting new ones. The crowd was a sea of blue “Walk for Sight” tee-shirts and the air buzzed with anticipation. I did some reconnecting myself with some folks I’d met before and was introduced to new people, including our team captain, Alex, who was so inspired a few years ago when Randy spoke at her elementary school that she and her parents have participated in the walk ever since. This year, Alex served as the team’s captain and did a bang-up job!

As it hit 11 a.m., we heard from David Morgan, President and CEO of Future in Sight. He announced that there were more walkers this year than in any of the previous years. He spoke about the organization’s name change and how it reflected its broadening scope of service — beyond just New Hampshire to other states in New England, and to people with a wide range of visual impairment. Future in Sight has served twice as many clients in need in the last year — 2,200 — than it did in its previous year. However, he said, there are still more than 28,000 people with visual impairment in New Hampshire alone. Future in Sight’s mission is to reach ever further to serve as much of this community as they can.

The 2020 Vision Quest team at Walk for Sight 2017!
Alex & Autumn’s 2020 Vision Quest team at the Walk for Sight 2017!

Randy Pierce also spoke, building off David’s words; he encouraged everyone in the crowd to not just support this mission today, but throughout the year. He urged folks to share their experiences with others, especially on social media, and spread the word to those who can support in order to extend the reach of Future in Sight to better help those in need.

After these inspirational words, we were off! It took about an hour to do the 3k circuit through the city. The celebratory feeling in the air was catching. Volunteer staff were stationed at many intersections to ensure safe crossing of the walkers. I heard Randy make sure to thank as many volunteers as he could and I started following his example, trying to do my best to spread around the good feeling and cheer as a part of this community.

A new component to the event this year was called “Walk in My Shoes.” This activity allowed adult walkers to experience what it’s like to move through the city as a visually impaired pedestrian by using blindfolds and simulation glasses, with the help of trained sighted guides. It was fascinating to see walkers go through this experience and listen to them described their changed perceptions, such as disorientation and heightened awareness of sounds around them.

It was an amazing and humbling experience, being a part of this diverse and welcoming community all walking through the streets of Concord. I’m happy to share my experience with you and I urge you to spread the word of Future in Sight’s mission far and wide!

Connect with Future in Sight:


Worthy of a Community Celebration – Closing the Quest!

By Randy Pierce

During rare moments, we may make a decision which will play a significant role in transforming our lives. On even rarer occasions, the power of that choice may create ripples well beyond our expectations. Such was the nature of my 2009 decision to undertake climbing “the 48.”

Randy sits back on his heels in a field with Quinn in a heel by his side. Quinn and Randy meet eyes with a look that shows their mutual love.I decided to do this in celebration of the gift of Quinn, my return to walking, the wonder of the wilderness, and my hope that through the choice to share this process I might make a positive impact for anyone who faces a little adversity in their lives. The challenges, rewards, friendships, personal growth, support, and most definitely the broader positive impact is well beyond any expectation or hope I might have initially held.

There have been both losses and triumphs in the formation of 2020 Vision Quest, which is about so much more than just our hiking these peaks. Through it all, we have created an organization that adds a value that I’m tremendously proud to be a part of supporting, and which will continue to accomplish beneficial actions and have positive influences well beyond the hiking portion of our Quest.

It all began with the choice to hike those incredible trails and summit those peaks in full awareness that each totally blind step would be potentially perilous and decidedly difficult. So they have been–but despite the adversities we’ve faced along the way, August 24 at 7:00 am we will depart the Flume Visitor’s Center in Franconia Notch and begin climbing the Liberty Springs route towards our final summit: Mt. Flume. Given all that we’ve learned and experienced, we hope to take our team over Mt. Liberty, out to Mt. Flume and back to the trailhead by 5:00 pm where several friends are already committing to be present with coolers and grills to refresh our weary team.

The team on the Southern Presi traverse hike share a high five. The camera captures their triumph from below.
Job Well Done - Southern Presi Traverse

I fervently hope still more friends will be present whether they’ve hiked some mountain trails, leisurely toured some of the many tourist options showcasing some of the wonders of the White Mountains or simply bringing their own gas grills and supplies to celebrate with us. Without a community of support, my hikes would have been so vastly more difficult and it would be unlikely I’d be finishing this year. Without community, the worthy results of 2020 Vision Quest would not have reached so many people and lives with such a positive message. Even without community, I will still celebrate the final part of our original quest, but with each person joining us live or in virtual support, my celebration and our greater goals will be enhanced with the motivation and inspiration such extensive efforts need.

So please, do consider joining us live to experience some of the magic and marvel we’ve found in these majestic treasures of New Hampshire’s Wilderness. Do share our Facebook community as we strive to spread our message further each day. Do share our website and the messages and possibilities it helps to create in schools and communities where we deliver our best outreach steadily.

The end of the official hiking is far from the end of our real quest, but we are poised on a marvelous pinnacle of accomplishment. From this vantage, I have a vision of just how much more we might accomplish–and as it has been throughout, much of that accomplishment hinges upon those who share a belief in our mission and message. How much can you help share our message, support our cause and join our team?

We have already met our tagline many times and in many ways: “Achieve a Vision Beyond Your Sight!” Vision did not end with the loss of my sight nor does it end with the accomplishment of this Quest. It begins with each choice that help us grow our community of support and as such it begins with you all for what you have done and what you do next to be a part of our team. Thank you for sharing this vision!

A brilliant orange sun begins to rise above the darkened southern presidential range - as seen from Mt Bond. The sky is a firey orange to yellow fading into a light blue.
Sunrise as seen on Mt. Bond

We Need you on our Team – Walk with “Quinn-tessentially Blind!”

By Randy Pierce

On June 2, 2012 in Concord, NH, our 2020 Vision Quest team will participate in the New Hampshire Association for the Blind’s Walk for Sight, walking 3 km from their office to the State House and then back. We invite you to join our team. Sign up here!

My goal is to have at least one team member for every mile I walk in honor of this 100 year anniversary. The catch is that I’ll arrive in Concord after having traversed 100 miles! In honor of this organization to which I owe a debt of gratitude, I will walk across the State of NH linking the Concord and Seacoast offices. Our vision is to achieve at least 100 members.

I don’t expect you all to join me for the back-to-back 50 mile days we are hiking before this walk, but I hope you’ll help me reach a little higher with this goal of celebrating in style with one incredible team for the 3k! Whether joining us live, virtually, or by donation, your involvement will make a tremendously positive influence on the event.

Last June, more than 400 people – young and old – came together for the 3k Walk for Sight and did what they could to raise as much as possible for the vital rehabilitation services and programs provided by the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. With your help, this year will be just as successful and just as much fun!

The Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary and organizers of the Walk are planning additional activities at this year’s walk, such as eye screening and eye safety booths. As always, lunch is provided. There will also be awards, live entertainment, and door prizes.

For a registration fee of only $15.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under 12 (which includes all of the above plus a special 100 year anniversary t-shirt) you can see how easy it is to say “yes! – I’ll walk the 3K to help support the Association’s mission ‘to advance the independence of persons who are blind and visually impaired in NH.’”

I’ve reached plenty of peaks over the last few years and in large part due to some tremendous help and support. Now with your help, we can reach another tremendous milestone.

So please consider walking with me and my team. If you can’t walk this year, a donation of any size would also be greatly appreciated to help us reach our goal.

As the event draws closer and we close in on our goal, I hope to be able to share more exciting events connected to this day. Thank you for the consideration and I truly hope we pull together a record breaking team!

Randy & the Mighty Quinn


Success on the Hancocks = 1/3 of our Goal

by Randy Pierce

When I first thought to undertake the “48” back in 2010, it was intended as a leisurely ten-year goal. This was, in part, where the name 2020 Vision Quest came from. Since then, my desire to accomplish this goal with the incredible work of Quinn has encouraged me to set a more rapid pace to keep with his healthy working career time.

South Hancock in the second range on the left, North Hancock far right along the ridge -- Photo courtesy of Chris Garby

Our next hike, the Hancocks, includes two summits, which would bring our total accomplishment number, since the founding of the charity, to 16. This is exactly 1/3 of the way to our goal in the hiking portion of our quest. Last year, our official start began later, and we managed only five summits. This year, we have already achieved 9 of the tall peaks. Unquestionably, we have continued to learn a tremendous amount and have improved our skills in the process. As a result, this is the first hike in which the original plan called for an overnight, but we intend to attempt it as a day hike. It is a reasonably long hike, but we believe we have become efficient enough to undertake it in a single day. There are many factors that have improved our progress, and as our story unfolds, those lessons are being shared steadily.

Finding leadership for this higher paced schedule is definitely more challenging. This is part of the reason we can benefit tremendously from having the skill to undertake longer day hikes. Overnights add a host of additional factors, including fewer folk willing to act as a Hike Leader for a 2020 hike. We could definitely benefit from a few more leaders reaching out to us, and we are doing our part to make that more manageable.

Yet as I prepare for the North and South Hancock hike, I feel a swell of both hope and pride. Much as John Hancock put his memorable mark upon the Declaration of Independence, success on these two mountains feels like a transition point to me. I feel like we are putting our own stamp upon our ability to succeed on this project. I know there are many more challenges ahead and the potential for significant setback as well. Even these two peaks, with particularly steep scrambles up and down along the loop trail, provide the potential to block our progress. Still, I feel the confidence to believe in the possibility of a lofty mountain goal.


Why is our Mt. Waumbek success linked to Mt. Vesuvius and the alleged World's Greatest Traveller?

Randy and Quinn on the trail.

by Randy Pierce

Our July New Hampshire heat wave is not untypical, nor is the choice to seek some solace from the heat by hiking amidst the elevation of a 4000-foot peak. Aware of the real dangers of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, we were relieved to have an early morning shower easing the challenge and risk. Our task was to hike a longer distance on some generally moderate trails to the summit of Mt. Starr King and then along the ridge to Mt Waumbek. The mostly wooded course would limit the relief of wind on our long humid hike, and we expected the heat to be our larger challenge.

Mt. Waumbek is part of a ring dike complex, which means it was formed by volcanic activity. In fact, it bore Pliny Major as its name for many years in honor of Pliny the Younger, a Roman who provided the only written eyewitness testimony of the infamous eruption on Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Vesuvius, at 4206 feet, is a similar height to our climb, and the tale of James Holman humbles each and every one of my efforts. He was the first blind person to summit Mt Vesuvius and he did so while it was still active. The tale of his life is remarkable, and during that particular expedition, he dealt with a fair bit more than our July jaunt in the White Mountains.

Team 2020 - Waumbek!

Still I’m quite proud of the nine friends who joined Quinn and me, and overcame the heat of our journey. A diverse group shared a collection of wilderness and life details as we took up the steady climb to the Chimney overlook of the Northern Presidentials from the summit of Starr King. One of the gentlest ridge trails brought us to a vastly restricted view from the wooded summit of Waumbek. While the light breezes did cool some, the heat was steady from the high noon sun. As we returned at a comfortably quick pace, we left the elevation-gained coolness. As a group, we had plenty of water and we supported each other well, yet as we reached the relief of the trailhead, I could still feel the light touch of some heat exhaustion. I needed an electrolyte boost and the cooling benefit of an ice pack on the back of my neck to regain full comfort.

Even one of the gentler challenges of the 48 teased us with a lesson in respecting all factors that can place a hiking group risk. I’m certainly no James Holman, and unlike him, I had a fantastic team of support throughout this day. I respect and appreciate the experience with the people and the mountain, as well as all of the hikes past and in the future. Each hike to come will have unique rewards and challenges, and Mt. Waumbek has now carved out its place on our path!


Help 2020 Achieve Peak Potential!

by Rachel Morris

It’s not too early to save the date (and buy your tickets) for this year’s Peak Potential Charity Dinner & Auction, in celebration of 2020 Vision Quest’s 2011 season.

Peak Potential 2010 was a huge success for us and this year promises to be even bigger and better! We’re returning to The Derryfield in Manchester, NH, with its beautiful views of the Derryfield Country Club, on Saturday, November 12. We kick off the event with hors d’oeuvres and a preview of our auction items at 6:30pm, with dinner seating at 7:00pm. Festivities run until 11:00pm. Ticket prices are $100 each, or $175 per couple. For the best price, you and seven friends can grab a table of your own for $600 ($75 per person).

Last year’s menu was popular enough that we’re sticking with it – you have a choice of Pan Roasted Salmon, Cranberry Walnut Chicken, Prime Rib, or a vegetarian Spinach Stuffed Tomato. There’s a cash bar available and we’ll have DJ Will Utterback returning to keep things hopping with music from the 60’s to today.

Peak Potential 2010, courtesy of Green Photography:

Our auction includes numerous silent auction items and a few special “package” deals that will be bid on in a live auction during the dinner, with Randy (and Quinn) as our auctioneers. If you or your business has something to donate for the auction, let us know. Some of our most sought after items are event tickets, travel related items, meals at a favorite restaurant, spa services, and so on. Not sure if it’s right for us? Ask!
Randy will give a presentation covering some of 2020 Vision Quest’s most memorable moments of the 2011 season, including the following:
•       The mountains summited this year
•       Quinn’s momentous Tug-of-War victory over Patriot star Tedy Brushy at the top of the Belknaps
•       What it means to be able to speak to area children about achieving through adversity
…and more.

All these things have been possible with the generosity of our donors, and through fundraising events such as this one. Buy your tickets online or by mailing a check to us at 2020 Vision Quest, 109 E. Glenwood Street, Nashua, NH  03060 (be sure to tell us it’s for Peak Potential and let us know your meal choices). Join us in this year’s celebration!


Adams Family Union

by Randy Pierce

There are many reasons this was the most daunting hike to date. The weather forecast did not help much, as thunderstorm potential was present every day of our trip. Our group hit the trailhead at 7:00am on Saturday with good weather and appropriate anxiety. A sense of urgency kept words and packing efficient as we began the 3.8-mile ascent up Valley Way. Quinn sensed the apprehension as his work was cautious but quick through the easier early miles. As the terrain steepened with a few trickier points, Rob Carroll shouldered the challenge of guiding me, while Cliff Dike took on Quinn care. We became quickly efficient at communicating and our speed was solid as is evident by our reaching the hut by 12:30pm.

The immediate excitement was the approach of a medical helicopter. An ankle injury had forced a hiker to spend four days at the hut awaiting weather good enough to land a helicopter and evacuate her from the challenging trails. This was an ominous reality check despite our successful work thus far. We enjoyed lunch at the beautifully renovated hut while debating the timing of going for Adams during this better weather. Uncertain of how well we would manage the terrain of either summit, we opted for the practice of the shorter Mt. Madison. The decision was rewarding as Kyle led me along the most challenging footing I have yet traversed in these mountains. Our significant work together in the past paid dividends as well. We made the summit in well under an hour and clear skies with no wind gave us the opportunity to appreciate the beauty that surrounded us. It is simply awe-inspiring to experience the full majesty of the heart of this 300 million year old mountain range unfurled from atop the northeast corner of the Presidential peaks.

Slower but steady and satisfying work led us back down to the AMC Madison Springs Hut. We fully appreciated the many renovation upgrades and a turkey dinner, which was an incredible repast for this group of hungry hikers. The ‘buzz’ of many enthusiastic members of our team and the full entourage of travelers was an excellent energy burst. Some enjoyed a naturalist presentation while Kyle’s advance scouting of the Gulf Side Trail unearthed a different bit of nature. A young, but large moose had wandered above tree line and watched us from the shoulder of John Quincy Adams. We shared Kyle’s find with many and all delighted in the rare experience before settling onto a bench to once again savor a spectacular sunset. Day one was in the books with complete success and thoughts were turning to the deteriorating weather reports and tomorrow’s monumental goal.

Packs were loaded before breakfast and we were quickly upon the trail to seek the peak before the weather arrived. It was a very pleasant morning and Quinn was called upon initially. The terrain was challenging for our work together, and due to the time pressure, we attempted human guidance once again. John Corbett’s tall frame and long strides would match my own well and so he joined the ranks of those guiding me. Our speed increased as we worked together along the edge of the beautiful King’s Ravine. It was more than an hour to traverse the Gulf Side Trail but we hit Thunderstorm Junction earlier than the storms and still felt strong in body and mind. A storm was definitely coming but there was some time, so Kara Minotti Becker, our leader, took over as my guide while Ben Becker took an additional role to scout the route for her as we ascended the summit cone of Mt. Adams. Whether it was our focus, the anticipation, or the success of this double team, the terrain seemed less challenging than Madison to me. The crevices were deeper, the stones sharper and more erratic, yet our route led us smoothly to the summit just as the wind began to rise higher.

Even as the celebratory summit picture was taken, two probing cloud hands reached over Mt. Washington and hurled the dense storm clouds over the summit and towards us. We ratcheted up the urgency significantly and began a hasty descent! Moments later, we realized the terrain would be considerably more difficult going down, and Kyle took over guiding with Ben’s continued scouting. As the first drops began, pack covers and rain gear was donned just in time to withstand the worst of the sleet, which began to pelt our trail and us. Our progress was necessarily slower than we would have preferred, but still quick for the pre-trip expectations.

It had turned to rain by the time we rounded the exposed western edges of the ravine and we were managing the slippery wet rocks very well. We finally found the comfort of the hut, and a long afternoon and evening allowed the group camaraderie to grow stronger as we celebrated our successful experiences. We read books from the hut supply, played games, and partook of the educational presentation on Geology of the Presidentials, while heavy rain and dark clouds encased the hut. It was a long but gratifying evening in which our “Adams Family” hungered for more hiking together.

Monday, July 4, brought us beautiful weather for our descent down Valley Way, which would signify the full success of our trip. Feeling the confidence of our prior work, we allowed time to dry much gear in the warm sun as we shared stories and jests atop the col. Finally, at 9:30am we reluctantly released our hold upon the hut. Kara worked the more difficult and steep section, to practice the different challenges that going down presents for me. After a couple of hours of the slower terrain, Ben replaced her for his first work guiding me, though he had watched and learned much previously. With the somewhat easier trail frequently dotted with the grooved slots, which challenge Quinn and I together, Ben made a long two hours of work, up to the easier final stretch where Quinn eagerly took back his job, and raced out with me in tow. Our expedition was at an end, and yet another team had become a key part of my life and the experience of our quest. These mountains deserve all the daunting words and emotions they held in advance of this trip. This group deserves all the accolades for undertaking the challenge, building our bonds, and savoring an exquisite experience. I may not ever be so fortunate as to assemble this team again but I will always treasure this journey and hope for the possibility for an “Adams Family Reunion” on whatever adventure might await!


Expecting the best, but preparing for the worst

by Randy Pierce

The Northern Presidential range is dominated by the daunting Mt. Adams, and it will be by far the most challenging peak in this year’s hiking season. At 5,774 feet, it is the second highest in the 48 after Washington, but in many ways presents a more formidable challenge. Adams’ 4,500 feet of elevation gain is the absolute most in all of the White Mountains. Its cracked, boulder-strewn cone is often considered to be the most challenging terrain. Thus, Adams represents perhaps the supreme challenge for me personally, and for all of our team, during the entire 2020 Vision Quest.

Courtesy of Sherpa John:

Weather is frequently the most difficult factor for any hiker, and here again Mt. Adams stands tall. We’ll make our summit attempt through a convergence of paths known ominously as “Thunderstorm Junction.” It is said that there are more lightning strikes on Mt. Adams than any other point in New England. Though we could not verify this detail, we can confirm that Adams’ mystique has landed it on a list of the top 10 ‘Holy Mountains’ as maintained by the Aetherius Society, who are said to keep their symbols upon the summit.

The best path: Thunderstorm Junction

While we chose Thunderstorm Junction as the shortest section of the challenging summit cone, the very threat of lightning would drive us from our task. As fearsome as lightning can be as it rolls through your town, imagine the same experience on an exposed mountain ledge, with no means to escape or even hide. And given my necessarily deliberate pace, we must only attempt to approach this region if both the forecast and the view confirm we are at very low risk of fast-moving storms.

We will undertake both Adams and its neighbor to the north, Mt. Madison (fifth highest in the 48), during a three-day climb based out of the AMC’s Madison Spring hut. The plan is to ascend the Valley Way trail from the northwest. This moderately steep trail will bring us to the hut nestled in a col between the two pyramidal peaks. If time is sufficient we hope to climb Madison that very day. While only a 1 mile round trip from the hut, the terrain is similar to what we’ll encounter on Adams, and we hope to gain from the experience.

And then there’s Plan B

Courtesy of Sherpa John:

If weather or timing do not allow that practice run, we plan to achieve the summit of Mt. Adams the next day, July 3. Many backup plans are ready based on the conditions on the mountain, and we hope to find the window of opportunity to travel the 2.4 miles of challenging terrain and achieve Mt. Adams’ notorious summit. We anticipate an exhausting day which allows us back to the hut to rest one final night before making our July 4 return down the Valley Way.

Many hikers have managed these summits, but every experienced hiker who knows us well has said this will be an enormous challenge. We could do everything right and yet be forced to forego the attempt of a summit should the weather not hold sufficient clear skies. Even wet rock will greatly magnify our challenge – but of course we are more mindful of the larger dangers of being trapped in hypothermic conditions – — yes even in early July! – — while lightning rages around us.

As you know, we are not doing this because it’s easy. But never before have we looked forward to a hike with such vivid awareness of the dangers we may encounter.

So we’ve prepared more than any peak previously, we have three days of potential to consider a summit and we are prepared to accept any weather reality. After all, all we can ever do is give our best efforts, plan well and make the most of the realities which can challenge or limit our choices. Win or lose, I expect an experience to remember. And I have little doubt that our 8 person team will come out of the endeavor charged by the experience we intend to share!


Learning to Lead

by Kara Minotti Becker

When I’m asked to take charge of a thing – whatever thing – my first reaction is probably similar to everyone else’s. I’m flattered. I feel important, like my opinion matters and my expertise is valued. It’s a good feeling.

And like most others, I assume that because I’m in charge, I’m, well – in charge. You know. If there are things to be done, I’ll do them – or be the one to ask others to. If there are questions, I’m expected to have answers. When there are problems, I’ll be the one to solve them. I also immediately start feeling the pressure – like I better have this thing wired, at least I better look like I do! People are handing me the reins. They’re counting on me. I better not need help, or not know a thing, or be unsure about a decision. I better be perfect.

Let me tell you, this is a mistake I’ve made a thousand times. When Randy and Carrie asked me to lead the Madison-Adams trip over the July 4th weekend, I did it again. I’ve often wondered how many times you have to learn a lesson before you stop forgetting it. Apparently in this case, at least one more time.

Leading a trip like this is a big responsibility under any circumstances. But when it’s your dear friends you’re taking into the wilds of the White Mountains, and especially when one of them is counting on you to deliver the next success in his excellent and worthy cause, you don’t want to make mistakes. You want to be – or at least seem – perfect. So when I was asked, I immediately began planning to be just that. But I’ve noticed that the same thing happens every time you make this mistake.

You overlook the most valuable resource you ever have at your disposal: your team.

When you try to have all the answers, you don’t get the benefit of the experience, creativity, and different point of view that others can provide. What a waste!

This dawned on me a few weeks back when I was asking Carrie, the 2020 hiking manager, for her advice on trails and terrain on Madison and Adams. She gave me a huge amount of useful information, insight, and advice. But I suddenly realized there was someone else I should be asking: Randy. Randy spends more time hiking mountains, researching hiking mountains, thinking about hiking mountains (and maybe good-naturedly cursing about hiking mountains) than any of the rest of us put together. He’s more an expert than I am by far at this point. So why wasn’t I asking him?

There I was, making that same old mistake. I didn’t want to seem like I wasn’t a proper leader – the expert with all the answers. Ah, ego. You’re never far away, are you?

Luckily, as I mentioned, I’ve made this mistake before, and now I know just what to do. It’s easy – all you have to do is drop the pretense and ask questions. Go to your team, and ask away. How should we do this? What do you think of that? This is my idea – do you have a different one? It’s amazing how much better your plans will be, but more to the point, how much better you and your team will be when you approach things this way. You relieve the pressure on yourself. Your team feels empowered and involved. Everyone develops a sense of humor, and the understanding that we’re not perfect, but together, we’ll figure things out as best we can.

So that’s what I did – I called Randy and started asking questions. As we talked I realized there was so much we could cover, and it was so much fun to do so, that we really should get together to do it (which we are, this Friday in fact – which means I get to talk to Tracy too!) This week, I’ll be bugging the rest of the team about their ideas, concerns and suggestions for the trip. Now that I’ve learned this lesson again for probably the 397th time, I’m really looking forward to it!

I’ve always passionately believed that true leadership comes from below – as support, encouragement, and enablement – not from above, as disconnected (if well-intentioned) instruction. But you can see how that latter happens. When we’re asked to take charge, we want to live up to the compliment and be worthy of the trust. The real key is what we do next as a leader. In the end, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to learn this lesson again. Maybe this is the last time I’ll have to.

But probably not.


Overwhelmed is so not a Reality Show

by Randy Pierce

Finally, we take a break from our many hiking topics and address a common question. Do the challenges of it all overwhelm me? Many see the outward signs as me sustaining a steady positive, and they often presume that I’m either putting on a show or never overwhelmed. For the most part, neither is true. I am absolutely aware and buffeted by the challenges. It is my choice to take on these challenges directly and reach a resolution, or at least a plan for such immediately. This philosophy keeps me from letting the sustained weight of such a load wear me down, but it does not prevent frustrations as I deal with it. I’m well aware that I do not hold a monopoly on challenge, yet I am also aware that my problems are not inconsequential. For me, the trick is in defining the real issue up front and thereby allowing for real problem solving, and an acceptance that change is often a necessary aspect of removing a present concern.

In its simplistic form, there are mornings when I wake up and think, “Yeah, I’m still blind; can’t I ever get a break?”, and I view this as a natural and acceptable way to feel – but it really isn’t the key. The root of the issue is most likely a need to travel somewhere or utilize my time more carefully as many tasks may take longer. Whatever the frustration is that led to that thought, it is more about what my blindness is making more difficult. With steps and a plan, anything can usually be resolved, even if the resolution may involve reaching out for help.

On a more complex level, it is generally understood that the feeling of controlling our situation gives us comfort and eases frustration. I may not be able to control my blindness for now, but I can significantly impact most of the ways that this challenge impacts me. Learning to apply that lesson to all aspects of our lives can make a significant difference.

Our 2020 Vision Quest team is accomplishing some tremendous things. In the process, the work can be very challenging and can seem to spin a bit out of control. It’s actually one of the hardest aspects of my present life – to manage the caring people of team 2020 along with the other responsibilities of running a charity. The reality is that these things are not out of control, though there are real needs that must be given proper attention. While these challenges contribute to my most recent and pressing feeling of being overwhelmed, I continue to try and take my own advice. I guess we’ll see how well it works as we progress, but in the meanwhile, maybe some of you might be thinking that you have some time and skills to offer us in strengthening our mission. How about an email?

I’d like to close this blog post with a quote from the person for whom Mt. Hale was named. I hope to always have the same success with his quote as I did with his mountain:

“I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” ~Edward Everett Hale


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