By Randy Pierce
Independence day 2010 marked the first official 2020 Vision Quest hike. We experienced an amazing sunset beside Lake of the Clouds on Mt. Washington and proudly stood upon the summit pin as part of the incredible experience. The journey and results were captured fantastically in a short and long version you can appreciate below:
Ultimately though we reached the summits of both Monroe and Washington, neither count as success in our pursuit of the 48 because as a group we decided we could not reasonably hike down the mountain in the time we had remaining. It was a bittersweet start to our project. Since then we’ve put 23 of the 48 into the success column and are now poised to leap over the halfway mark with an early July return to both Monroe and Washington once again.
We have learned a few lessons and skills along the journey and feel very confident we have a much better likelihood of reaching our goal on this expedition. Certainly some might suggest our winter accomplishment makes this a near certainty, but our recent hike on Mt. Jackson reminded us how much more challenging the experience is without snow smoothing the trails for us.
Our July 2010 scramble up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail on Mt. Washington took us over 8 hours from start to the Lake of the Clouds hut. In the winter that journey was an astounding 2 hours into incredibly majestic views and an unrivalled feeling of accomplishment.
I understand the time-sensitive work required to the gem pool, up the steep steps of the Ammo to the “Avocado Falls” overlook. There it will be a hands-to-the-ground scramble to reach the hut and ideally before noon to ensure we can reduce our packs and prepare for the 3-mile round trip to the summit on that same day.
All aspects of the weather will impact our chances and as always with the crown jewel of the white mountains, we must be prepared to change/adjust/cancel any aspect of this journey. Still, I know what I know of every experience–I succeed already when I make the choice to undertake and properly plan such an endeavor. I cannot tell you anything other than my fervent hope and intent to celebrate success, independence and a tremendous feeling of freedom!