Congrats to Dina Sutin on her “Winter 48!”

By Randy Pierce

Snowy evergreens stand as sentinels on the slopes. Photo courtesy of Justin Fuller.

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.

Randy took this picture of Dina, Justin, and Quinn at the summit of Mt. Willey.

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.


Blind Man Piles on the Peaks in Pursuit of Top Dog

By Randy Pierce

Quinn is a master climber as he leads Randy up a treacherous path.

Our winter hikes on the “NH 48” have begun in earnest and have been very successful so far. We have already traversed a number of peaks, with our most impressive achievement this winter to date being our climb of seven summits of over 4000 feet in four days. More than 40 miles and over 10,000 feet of elevation gain is simply a respectable challenge for most people; we have accomplished this and significantly more as winter has barely begun to overtake the White Mountains. Our challenges have been significant–the trail-heads are generally bare ground or icy coated rocks, which makes the hikes more difficult. They transition above 2500 feet to several feet of snow with a narrow snow shoe trail broken through where other hikers may have passed. While the snow often makes the going easier, that transition has some steep and slippery points with hidden foot traps throughout. These are not the ideal conditions to make climbing easier for me or my guide dog Quinn.

Quinn’s fame is growing both along the network of trails and in the cyberspace network which carries the tale of the tail-wagging wonder who is guiding a totally blind man to the top of peak after peak during the White Mountains winter 2012 season. To be certain, the accolades are well deserved as our speed and efficiency continue to increase and the number of peaks begin to fall beneath our feet.

"Has Dad found someone else?"

In that four-day span, Garfield, Tom, Field, Willie, Liberty, Flume and Moosilauke were added to Tecumseh, Jackson, Hale, and Cabot on our winter season’s summit success stories. An assortment of different hikers have joined us on the various hikes and we’ve met an significant number of fantastic people upon the trails. Many of those who witness the marvel of Quinn’s work are astounded by the dedication and ability he possesses. What many may not realize is that in our group, there is a battle for top dog.

It is not with Dusty, the recent rescue pup of Bob and Geri Hayes, though he is admittedly a little marvel in his own right. His boundless energy in surging ahead on every trail to the extent of his 20-foot leash or his near-constant darting into the side woods to plunge his rodent-sniffing nose after every squirrel scent with rarely a moment delay in our progress.

It is in fact Bob Hayes who is battling it out with Quinn for “top dog.” Not only does Bob bring a fair bit of hiking experience and motivation into our undertaking, he also brings a supportive human guide element to particularly tricky areas and many of the descents when we need or want to increase our speed.

Randy, Bob, and the Mighty Quinn make the best team!

Bob’s and my teamwork has continued to improve our communication and efficiency. Using techniques such as putting my hand upon his pack so I can follow along behind him have helped us traverse vast sections of trail in times better than the AMC book suggests for those regions. We have developed an endurance of work which has far surpassed any prior guiding efforts, and in the case of Mt. Hale actually involved virtually jogging the entire descent of the trail for a summit-to-car travel time of an incredible 2 hours and 15 minutes!

Each person accompanying or encountering us for any length of time upon these wilderness excursions will undoubtedly catch a different part of our experience. Many have provided me with encouragement and inspiration in various ways, for which I am incredibly appreciative. As for who will be “top dog”: the simple fact is that both Bob and the mighty Quinn share honors as my guides, both outstanding in their own ways. They have my full gratitude for their willingness to team up with me and make this incredible journey possible.

How many thousands of feet of elevation we climb, miles of trail we cover, or simple number of peaks we achieve this winter will be determined as the winter unfolds. I already know full well how much I love the experience and celebrating our joys and accomplishments together!

Team portrait!

Veni. Vidi. Vici.

by Tracy Goyette

Tracy and Randy celebrate on Mount Field

Wow, instead of merely a week, it seems like months since I shared my fears regarding this past weekend’s back country hiking and camping trip. I’m pleased to report that I had a fantastic time and cannot wait to camp in the backcountry again. I did promise to share how the trip went, so here’s my trip report as it relates to my list of fears.

Fear 1: I’ve never camped in the back woods before.

So? I have camped in a variety of other, more populated places and the main difference is in the preparation and the carrying. Randy, Carrie, and Kara helped remove this fear by communicating what our needs should be. Also, Randy and I bought all of the appropriate gear that we would need. In fact, some of the setup was far easier than the more complex, larger tents I’ve used in the past!

Fear 2: There is bear activity in the area.

Yes, this is a reasonable and unconquered fear. Thankfully, we did not encounter any bear activity, so I count this one as a victory. I was pretty scared when we went to sleep and it took me a bit to relax enough to fall asleep, but the belief that Quinn would bark and wake me if a bear came into our campsite gave me a great deal of comfort.

Fear 3: I wonder if I can handle carrying the extra weight needed.

Sadly, the answer was no. I was limited in the weight I could carry; however, the rest of the team was fantastic. My biggest challenge with this fear is feeling as though I was not doing my share of the work. This was self-imposed guilt, and the rest of the team was fantastic in communicating that they felt I had other jobs that offset the weight I could not carry.

Fear 4: I fear I’ll be the slowest hiker because I’ve lost a bit of fitness these past few months.

Tracy and Randy setting up their tent.

This was not an issue. I am often the trailblazer because Quinn likes to follow me. I set the pace based mostly on Randy and Quinn’s speed (though a few times my short legs were the limiting factor). Ultimately, I ended up not caring about my speed.

Fear 5: What if I can’t sleep on the ground and I’m too sore the second day?

The first night in the campground was my first try with this gear. I slept poorly. The second night I corrected a few issues with the initial setup. I slept like a baby in the backwoods, with only the sounds of a breeze blowing gently through the pine grove and the sounds of Randy and Quinn breathing. I loved the stillness, and I didn’t want to leave!

Fear 6: What if we run out of water?

I did run out of water on the second day due to caring for Randy’s wound. Again, preparation and teamwork saved the day. Others gave me some of their water, Carrie and Kara knew just where the water sources were, and Carrie implemented a plan to make sure nobody was out of water for long.

There were some bad aspects to the trip – Randy fell and injured himself twice. I was astounded at how well the group mobilized. They swiftly transformed into a Cracker Jack wilderness ER team. Their competence helped me to stay calm so I could be the most help possible. I believe it was our team preparation (Thanks Solo Wilderness Medicine!) that made this work out so well.

Ultimately, this was a magical trip for me. My first backcountry camping trip with a group of people I was very happy to spend time with. I bonded with some very close friends of Randy’s and saw things I’d never seen before (but that’s a story for another time!) I am proud of myself for being conscious of my fears, facing them, and finding a new love in the process. I can’t wait to have my next adventure.


Where's the Beef?

by Carrie McMillen

I never knew beef could be such an important part of a trip. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but I’ll eat pretty much anything on the trail. So, when I heard about how a few of the hike participants had eaten steak tips once on a previous backpacking trip, I was pretty excited. The steak tips ended up being a really important part of the trip – they became both the high and low points of the weekend.

Steak tips as a way to heal

Kara applies frozen steak tips to Randy's injured knee.

About an hour into the hike, as you may have read about by now, Randy’s knee swelled up like a ping-pong ball within seconds after his fall. I knew having something cold on the injury would help, and Kara had to remind me that in the depths of someone’s pack were some tasty and frozen steak tips. After 20 minutes of freezing Randy’s knee, the swelling went way down and we were ready to move on. I really think that the icing minimized the extent of his injury dramatically.

Having an injury on the trail made this all very real. I’ve always carried first aid gear, but have opened it for only a Band-aid or some Neosporin. Maybe I’ve been lucky all of these years – but this hike made me a lot more alert to the fact that this may occur more than once as we summit these formidable 48 peaks. I learned a lot on this hike – about the resilience and determination of Randy, about the strength and support of our team, and about the inequities of the first aid kit. I bought a large survival/ first aid kit, but until you have an actual injury, it’s hard to know what you’re missing. Unfortunately, we probably won’t have frozen steak tips on every trip, but we instead should definitely have instant cold compresses. We should also have Q-tips for cleaning out cuts, butterfly bandages, and tweezers that don’t look like daggers (sorry, Randy!). Luckily, a few of the participants offered up some of their personal first aid items to supplement what was missing. (Tip: a squeeze water bottle is great for flushing out a wound!)

Steak tips as a way to bond

Rob cooking up the steak tips. Mmmm!

Once we were done freezing Randy’s knee with steak tips for a second time before dinner, we had the pleasure of eating them. I was gone for about 45 minutes getting water and by the time I got back, the boys had rigged up a fancy campfire – and those steak tips melted in my mouth as I finally relaxed from the day. Add to that a delicious lentil stew with fresh rosemary and we had ourselves a recipe for a great evening. We spent several hours reminiscing about past hiking experiences and got to know each other better through interesting and challenging questions. As the evening got later and darker, I’m sure we were smiling big with full bellies and great company.

Every hiking trip is different – some go smoothly, some don’t. The bumps of this trip were…literally, bumps. There were many things to think about as Randy hit his knee twice and sliced his hand, and trust me – my mind was going a mile a minute as I considered the ramifications of his injuries to himself and the group, while simultaneously thinking about how to treat the situation. I’ll be honest – it’s mentally tiring to balance all of those things as a leader.

But, I have to say that even with the ‘bumps’, this trip was smooth and sensational. I specifically am grateful for the way we cherished each summit as a group and for the many ways we took care of each other, whether it was cooking a meal, helping breakdown a tent or taking some weight from Randy’s pack. And, I was tickled when nature provided her own few magical moments like the old worldly mossy glen at a stream crossing and the gray jays that fearlessly landed on my outstretched hand. To paraphrase Randy from the weekend: ‘It’s moments like these that keep me going.’

And steak tips.


Back Country Bruises (with a Bonus!) – Part 2

by Randy Pierce

We set out early the next morning, though not too early as to over-push it. The trail atop the ridge was beautiful and we made excellent time. All seemed ideal, even on my sore knee – that is, until a second mishap occurred.

We were walking on the edge of a washout section of the trail. The three-foot-deep washout was boulder-strewn and hard to navigate. Quinn took the flat high ground to the left, because I walk better on flat ground. As I stepped down with my left foot, the dirt and roots of the washout collapsed and dropped me into the wash. I released the harness and leash from my left hand, so as not to trap Quinn while I tried to  catch myself, but sadly I sliced my left palm on a spiky stump fragment  – just as my injured left knee took yet another hit.

The team, having practiced the day before, was amazing. I am exceedingly grateful for the efficiency with which they got pressure on my two bleeding points, then got my knee elevated and iced. Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate is the order, R.I.C.E. for those wanting the mnemonic. All was accomplished in moments, and though I was sore and concerned, I was in good spirits. During my twenty minutes of ‘ice’, my hand wound was cleared of debris and tended by the amazing crew. Everyone was excellent, and I’m grateful. My spirits took a small hit here for obvious reasons, but the team support was solid – and it was at this point that we observed a little mountain magic, which may have made the difference for me.

We had been told that atop Mt. Field, one could hold out a hand with dried fruit and the Gray Jays would perch on your fingers and eat the fruit. At this very stop, the Jays revealed themselves, and we tested the rumor with an awe-inspiring delight. When ready, I stood and partook of the process, marveling at communing with these birds. I felt a bit as if I was in a Fairy Tale, and my knee and hand hurt a lot less for it.

We continued on, a bit slower, to the summit of Mt. Tom, where we were again treated to better views than anticipated. We called in more of the Jays and even had them perch upon my pack, which of course had the names of our $100 donors (thanks!). One of those names, by the way, is a Guiding Eyes for the Blind puppy that is being raised to do the same job as Quinn!

We eventually began our descent, knowing this would definitely test my knee. I don’t think I can praise enough the work of Quinn or Tracy’s efforts ahead of me in trail blazing and sharing just enough information to keep us focused and safe. It was tough terrain, but we made good time – and my comfort and confidence in the progress Quinn and I have made was clear. We are a strong hiking team. He knew my injury and he helped me much, occasionally getting me to shift feet for a tricky point, and occasionally giving me stability on a rough area. He knows how to show me when we can do something readily and conversely, he knows how to alert me when I must step or sit down for a significant drop. We did the trip well, arriving at the end of the first rough stretch in time for Carrie to decide that she and Dave would go ahead for water refills while the rest of us could attempt the Avalon spur. Carrie and Dave had done the spur previously, and the team had used a lot of water to flush my injuries – so were lower on water than ideal.

The summit of Mt. Avalon is a very short spur off the trail, and we again did this without our packs…well most of us. Kara kept her pack on, for first aid and other vital needs. The craggy point had some unusual terrain and made for a great climb. Some of the spur trail required a 4-limb scramble, so Quinn could not lead me, but he came along and was excited for the challenges. We loved the view but rested only for a moment, as we had much work ahead in our final steep descent.

The Tom/Field 2020 Team

The next phase of the Avalon Trail is very steep and challenging – even for the fully sighted. It quickly earned my respect. It was not my most challenging down section, but very close – and Quinn was tireless in keeping me safe and oriented. Kara led us for much of this stretch, giving Tracy a well-deserved break. We made great time given the challenge, and we accomplished faster than Carrie expected. When we rejoined with her and Dave, there was a jubilant sharing of restocked water and much celebration. We knew this hike would be a success, despite the injuries. The team had come together marvelously and we had bagged a trio of peaks, two of which were part of the 48 on our list.

There are so many memories of the experiences on those mountains. The lingering bruises certainly have me reflecting on them, but the most powerful memories are of the teamwork and friendship built in sharing the marvels of the White Mountains. Seriously, how many people can stand atop the highest peak in a glorious range and have wild birds landing in their palm? How many people can know the value of friendship and fun so deeply at the core of that peaceful sanctuary? I’m certainly a happier person for it. Thank you to all those who hike with me and to all those inspiring me along the way!


Back Country Bruises – Part 1

by Randy Pierce

This weekend’s hike was a fantastic experience for me personally, though it came with a significant impact…literally.

We loaded up our packs for a Friday night stay at a campground near the trailhead, to both test our new equipment as well as ensure an early morning departure. Time is typically one of my biggest challenges due to my need to hike more slowly than most. So, with slightly heavier packs (my pack, at 48 pounds, was barely the most heavy), we set out on the Avalon Trail. Roughly .5 miles into the hike, we were enjoying gentle trails – then an error on a plank bog bridge made our hike a bit more difficult.

Typically, Quinn leads me by half a dog, meaning I’m walking beside his right flank. He stops to signal warnings when his subtle body positioning cannot have me evade things entirely. Sometimes, Quinn and I need to go single file, due to a narrow pathway or bridge. While single file, when Quinn stops for an obstacle, I have to estimate the distance to his front paws, ask him to ‘hup-up’, and then find the edge of the obstacle. When we hit a plank bridge that was too narrow for us to walk side by side, Quinn did his work well – and Tracy, with a very good understanding of our process, alerted me that there was a deep space between the plank and the stepping-stone off the plank. Unfortunately, I did not hear Tracy’s warning, nor did I catch Quinn’s extra hesitation as he stepped off the plank to the rock. My wet boot partially reached the stone step, but then it slipped. I fell between the plank and the rock and banged my knee solidly against another rock. The swelling was significant and immediate.

Our Wilderness First Aid training came in handy, as a quick evaluation of my situation found my mood strong, thoughts coherent, and bones not broken. We walked to the junction of the A-Z trail (Avalon – Zealand) and then made some decisions. We would ice my knee, using frozen steak tips for that night’s dinner, wrap it, and carry on – with me periodically giving my status to the hiking leader, Carrie.

We had lunch at our last water source, which was a mossy, old-world-feeling forest with sunlight streaming through forest breaks. The spot was beautiful and we were proud of having made such good progress despite the setback. While filling our water containers, I listened as folks described the area. The air had been chilled by the stream gorge, and I delighted in the day. We had heard of sparse views on Mt. Tom, but we found many worthy views of the Presidentials. My companions were marvelous about sharing things with me, including details of a spider building a web off trail.

We made good time, and at the Mt. Tom spur, we stashed our packs off the trail to make the spur trip without the weight of our packs. The summit had better views than promised, and thanks to Steve Smith’s book on the 48 from the Mountain Wanderer, we knew how to find the ‘secret bench’ views. We laughed much and reveled in our accomplishment. The group was excited – and the luxury of hiking without a pack really makes a difference when you’ve been lugging all that weight.

We walked back to our packs and found some previously used campsite off the trail. Carrie and Kara went for water refills while the rest of us set up camp. A marvelous feast and great camaraderie whiled away the evening. Sure, we could have pushed onward, but staying closer to the water source and savoring the trip was more important. It was a great decision, and we are all closer and happier for that evening together on the top of the range.

Some of you know I’m a bit of a Pats fan, and as such I’m well familiar with the instant replay. Day 2 of our hike featured several of those, both good and bad: great trails, hard work, marvels of nature, water concerns… and yet more practice with the Wilderness First Aid training.

To Be Continued…


Pushing My Boundaries

by Tracy Goyette

As we approach the final days leading up to my first ever backcountry camping trip, I find myself faced with a near overwhelming load of self-doubt and fears about the upcoming 2020 hiking trip. Don’t get me wrong, I’m immensely excited and eager for our trip to Mounts Tom and Field, but I’m pushing my boundaries with this trip.

Tracy and Randy at Lakes of the Clouds

I am, generally, an open person – except when it comes to admitting weaknesses and fears. I probably would have continued on, worrying in silence, except that I got a fantastic note from someone who shared her life situation with me – including what a positive effect our story has had on her. That note made me think that perhaps by sharing my own fears and hopefully later my success, I might inspire another person to try something they’ve been afraid of in the past.

So, without further ado, this trip scares me because of the following:

• I’ve never camped in the back woods before.
• There is bear activity in the area.
• I wonder if I can handle carrying the extra weight needed.
• I fear I’ll be the slowest hiker because I’ve lost a bit of fitness these past few months.
• What if I can’t sleep on the ground and I’m too sore the second day?
• What if we run out of water?

Setting these fears down on paper and sharing them makes me feel a bit silly, yet they express how I’ve been feeling this past week. I know that the group I’m climbing with is extremely supportive, and ultimately everything will be ok. However, I expect that knowledge won’t do much to allay my fears. So, I’m going to follow Randy’s example and just dive right in. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

So, what do you guys out there think? Anyone ever have any of these fears? How did your first backcountry trip turn out?


Comfort is Heavy

by Carrie McMillen

We’ve all experienced that moment of indecision when we’re packing for a trip.

You ask yourself – do I squeeze in that hardcover bestseller book I want to read even though my suitcase weighs a ton? (Answer: usually, yes) This may not be a big deal at the airport or on a train where you can conveniently say goodbye to that bag during your travels. However, if you’re backpacking it’s a different story…

Carrie and her pack in Colorado
Carrie (middle) and her pack, contemplating mountains in Colorado.

So, how heavy is YOUR pack? Mine is 42 pounds.

At least that’s what it was on my most recent backpacking adventure last summer in Colorado. That’s a typical number for me, although it depends on how long a trip, how difficult, and what ‘extras’ I’ve packed. I’ve run into backpackers on the trail who consider themselves minimalists – they sleep under the stars, they only eat rehydrated food – and they boast a pack weight of around 25 pounds. Admirable? Sure. But I’d like to hope that maybe they aren’t enjoying themselves on the trail as much as I am!

For those of you who like facts and numbers, your pack’s weight should be a reflection of your fitness and comfort level in addition to a general factor of 1/4 to 1/3 of your body weight. (The minimalists mentioned above use ratios like 1/6). For the rest of you who don’t like facts and numbers, you can determine your appropriate weight by stuffing your pack full of everything you think you want, and then try it on. Then take something out because it will feel too heavy. Try it on again. Repeat at least six more times. Then try to get your friend to take something for you!

I am one of those people who will sacrifice a bit of weight for comfort in the woods. I don’t bring my solar hairdryer or my iPod – but I do bring a few things that will help my happiness on the trail, as they pertain to food, drink, and sleep. So, if you’re not scared of the number 42 (or higher) and you’re headed out into the backcountry – here are my comfort items that will add both weight and happiness to your trip:

Thick sleeping pad (22 oz) – My biggest challenge is always sleeping on the ground. It’s worth the price and weight for a thick pad with air chambers (the foam pads are far less comfortable!). Get self-inflating if you get light-headed easily.

Camp shoes (6 -11.5 oz) – Your feet are so tired from the boots; you’re going to love feeling a new pair of shoes while walking from your tent to the stove!

Earplugs (.001 oz) – ok, I might have made up the weight, but these things are priceless. Guaranteed you won’t hear snoring neighbors or bears.

Camp pillow – (8 oz) – Typically I stuff a fleece inside a stuff sack, but I’ve also found the inflatable neck pillows for the airplane work well, too.

Journal (10 oz) – Call it my luxury item – this allows me to reflect in the woods and write my experiences down on paper. Priceless, but not weightless…

Special drink – (2 oz – 16 oz).  This can come in the form of your favorite tea or cocoa. Or, it could come in the form of something more potent (note: bottle of wine (2+ lbs))

Special food – This can come in the form of M&M’s (1.69 oz), a jar of peanut butter (12 oz), or steak tips (24 oz).  You are going to be hungry – bring something fun to eat! Just don’t forget the cast iron skillet (6.6 lbs) to fry up those steak tips.

So what is 2020 bringing for their comforts on Tom/Field? Guess you’ll have to wait until after the weekend to find out!


No Tom Foolery

by Randy Pierce

We have announced the next hike in our schedule, and it’s a double-your-pleasure adventure. We intend to hike not just one 4000 footer but two: Mt. Tom and Mt. Field. This is our first 2020 Vision Quest backcountry experience, as we’ll be loading tents into our packs and planning to stay out in the wilderness overnight.

Tom and Field from Jackson
Mts. Willey, Tom, and Field from Jackson, Mount Washington Observatory Photo

As if doubling the summit attempt wasn’t enough, we’ve added one of my most anticipated non-4K hikes to the mix. We will hike up Mt. Avalon, giving us three mountains to summit during our two-day trek. Some have suggested that we add Willey also, but Quinn informs me that that’s crazy talk!

In reality, I’m looking forward to the freedom and camaraderie of spending a night in a remote wilderness with good friends. I got a bit of this in my Pemigewasset excursion with UNH, but it definitely feels different undertaking this as part of the 2020 project. One difference is that there will be less of us to carry the larger amount of gear, as tents replace tarps in the approach to this hike. Bear hangs, however, will be a repeated practice from the Pemi trip, along with many tips and tricks from the training of Sherpa John and Brent Bell.

I also have great confidence in our Tom/Field hiking leaders, Carrie and Kara. We’ve already received our trip plan from them, and it has a good bit of information about our mountains and trails. I relish the way I feel after reading the trip plans, as it allows me to focus on my part of the experience ahead. Trust in the team, much like my trust in Quinn, is an essential part of approaching all hikes, but this trust is particularly important for hikes with new experiences – such as this trip.

While in the same region as Mt. Hale and hopefully with similar successful results, there’s a completely new set of people, trails, and experiences ahead. I’d love to hear anyone else’s comments about what we may find on our upcoming journey. I have just over one week to prepare and I’m eager to see if we can follow up our last success with an even larger accomplishment.


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