|Courtesy of 2020 Vision Quest
It was just after September 11, 2001 when a small group of hikers climbed atop Mount Liberty (4,459′) to fly an American Flag as a symbol of American pride and solidarity after the attacks on our nation. From that flying of the flag was Flags On the 48 created. Every year since, hikers have ascended New Hampshire’s 4000 Foot Peaks to fly American Flags proudly from the summits. Over the years, Team Sherpa has hiked to Owls Head, Bond and Bondcliff. After missing out on the event the last few years; we finally returned to hike Mount Liberty.
Sarah and I arrived in the Whitehouse Parking lot in Franconia Notch hoping to surprise our old friends Bob and Geri Hayes with the flag flying equipment in tow. Instead, we were surprised to not find them anywhere and instead a group of hikers we didn’t know. So, after posing for a parking lot picture and being handed a small American Flag, Sarah and I headed out onto the trail. We hiked steadily to Franconia Ridge where we quietly approached Randy Pierce and the rest of his 2020 Vision Quest
Team. I snuck up behind Randy and told him it was time to get the lead out. He smiled from ear to ear while extending his hand for a handshake, and welcoming Sarah with a hug. From here, we followed in Randy and Quinn’s footsteps on the way to the summit of Liberty.
I’ve mentioned Randy a few times on this blog, but in case you’ve forgotten.. I want to tell you about him again. Randy, along with his seeing eye dog The Mighty Quinn, aspires to be the first blind man to successfully hike the 48 Four-Thousand foot mountains in New Hampshire. He and his team are an amazing inspiration and truly a “sight to see” in watching them work. Please check out their website: 2020Vision Quest.
After hanging out with Randy and his gang for awhile, I took off for Flume, another 4K. It was a grueling 50 minute 2.4 Mile run from peak to peak to peak. Ankle twisters grace the landscape and a collection of boulders here and there. After a few bashed toes and tweaks, I was expressing myself with a few swear words. On the summit of Flume I counted around 50 hikers enjoying the gorgeous weather and remembering the devastation of 9/11. Back on Liberty, I counted 50 more. This event has truly grown over the years.
Sarah and I just want to thank the 2020 Team and the rest of the FOT48 folks for welcoming us on the hike. I also personally want to thank Bob and Tricia, a couple from Rhode Island whom I first met in 2005 at a “48” film showing and whom I’m run into a variety of times in the Whites since. Their friendship and support is always warmly welcomed and appreciated. Thank you!