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    The Adventure Begins: Our journey up Mount Jackson began at our meeting place at McDonalds in Lincoln NH. After introductions and refueling on “Mc whatevers” we headed up through Franconia Notch then over to Crawford Notch where our lead vehicle strategically pulled into the wrong trail head creating some confusion but an opportunity to use the rest rooms at the depot. Our lead scout, Eagle Eye Ron, identified the correct parking lot and we where on our way. Gearing up in the parking lot, in drove Don and Mike who some how got misdirected even before we got on the trails. I immediately gave them a copy of our trail directions. A group picture and we were on our way.

    The Ascent: Although the Jackson Branch Trail gain elevation immediately and became steep in sections it did not discourage our crew which was evident by their abundance of enthusiasm and chatter. It was certainly entertaining to hear about Bob’s college dating adventures, George’s extreme jokes and Maureen’s athletic endeavors. Our route led us to the junction of both the Jackson Branch trail and Webster Branch trail; which the later would take us over Mount Webster on the way to Jackson. The decision to go over Mount Webster was immediately met with skepticism as we descended steeply into a gorge that although afforded us a nice view of a water cascade it also delivered us a challenging and dynamic water crossing. The challenge was met with courage and swiftness. Then it was on to Mount Webster where Bob, “our mule”, carrying the flag poles and gear took the lead. The views at the summit of Webster were breathtaking and everyone enjoyed the short break. But then it was off to our destination – Mount Jackson. Brain took over the “mule” duties and we double our pace to the summit.

    Mount Jackson Summit: The summit was gained with both exhaustion and patriotism that we felt pounding in our hearts in anticipation of honoring our fallen heroes of 9-11. With the remembrance of the enormity that was lost that day we assembled and raised our American flag in tribute to the thousands of men, woman and children that perished that day. As we did this; we stood with good friends, new friends and strangers reflecting not only on a tragic event but on the beauty, compassion, and kindness that stood with us, this day, on the summit of Mount Jackson. After the flag was raised and a moment of silence, Brian recited a heartfelt eulogy that was much appreciated.

    The Decent: After a brief effort from Maureen in demonstrating her strong hiking skills it was wisely determine that someone else should carry the heavy pole pack down. The decent on the Jackson Branch trail was steep and a little tricky. John led the way followed by Diana and Cheryl. A quick stop at the Elephant Head outlook area provided excellent views. And after a request from George below in the parking area to “throw down the keys” was denied, we started down towards the parking lot finishing our 2009 Memorial Hike.

    Après Hiking: Well, after refreshments in the parking lot – it was overwhelmingly decided that all 13 of us should head to the “Station” in North Woodstock for – more refreshments! Let the fun begin: Don and Mike took off first but got lost again….. Gregg (the new guy with John) turned out to be the fun guy; he organized the buffet while Bob insured everyone indulged. We met up with other friends and hikers…had a great time sharing stories, fairy tales and brews. Everyone made it home safely. And…. we will never forget. See you all next year. Dave
    _________________
    Life is not measured by the
    number of breaths we take, but by the moments that
    take our breath away….

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