By Randy Pierce
The “Winter 48” awaits those who become entranced by the majestic beauty of the magnificent peaks shrouded in crispy white snowfall. The sounds are more subdued, though don’t tell that to the chill creaking of the trees or the howl of the winds. The hardwood trees are bare, opening up views of the landscape so vastly different from the summer, isolated yet welcoming. The evergreens are draped so heavily in snow that the silent snow sentinels seem to guard the expansive higher summits even as they shelter any passers through their demesne.
Each hiker pursues these travels for their own highly personal reasons. It is thus an incredible wonder to be invited to share a part of that momentous goal with someone. Dina Sutin, filmmaker for “Four More Feet” finished her first Winter 48 on Saturday, January 5, on a trio of peaks: Tom, Field, and Willey. One of the greatest honors in my life is to have the friendship of people like Dina and Justin who went out of their way to make it possible for me to join them for the final trio.
It’s ironic—I wanted to lend them my support and celebration of how much I appreciate them, of their support last season in ensuring our own successes, and of their gift of sharing a love and appreciation for these mountains. What I actually received was yet another touching demonstration of their friendship and support, making it likely a better present to me than from me.
They showed up at 5:45 a.m. to pick me up and were greeted by a rare but enthusiastic face-washing fest from Quinn! We drove up to the AMC Highland Center on a lightly snowing morning reminiscent of so many moments we had shared the previous winter together. The trails had more hikers than usual, but as is standard of the winter season, our group’s solitude quickly enveloped us as we travelled.
Both Dina and Justin have been piling up the peaks over the past few months and will likely touch the top of all 48 again in this single winter! Though sadly, I know there are likely precious few chances for me to be with them.
I was well buoyed by Quinn’s incredibly eager return to winter hiking and my chance to be part of this success. But I have a few additional challenges at present which were definitely impacting me and there was some doubt about whether I would be able to be part of the full three peaks needed for completion. In fact, without the incredibly supportive, encouraging, and moving friendships, I likely would not have made it. We pushed through well that day and my proudest moment was to take a picture of Dina, Justin and Quinn at Willey’s wooded summit!
So while I’ll never know for certain if my hindrance was higher than my attempts at encouragement and appreciation, this tale on our path is entirely dedicated to friendship and the celebration of your first completion of the Winter 48, Dina. Thank you for allowing me to share the experience with you! I know you’ll downplay the accomplishments all too often but I won’t fail to appreciate their worthiness. I will concede that the better part of the reward isn’t the scorecard of peaks, but the heart full of experiences.