New HampshireSeptember 13, 2009 at 2:30 pmPost count: 168
This year marked my fourth of participation in the Flags On The 48 event. For the first two I joined my friend Bill (Pucknuts) and his friend Jeff’s team. Last year I spent the day with Jim (SilentCal) and his group on Ike. This year, however, it would come to me to fly Jim’s rig since he would, quite literally, be out of the country on the day of the event. He gave me his flag and rig to fly on the peak of choice, North Kinsman, so that at the very least his spirit would be represented. Early on Bill signed up, and Bob (BobC) said he would be there as well no matter what. We also had some new faces who would be participating with us in Laurie, Russ and Marcus Maynard, the wife-husband-step son combo with a love for backpacking. About a week out from the event I also heard from Bobby that his Baxter plans had to be canceled and asked if he could join along. So it was this intrepid group who would set out from the Mount Kinsman trailhead on route 116 this fine morning.
The plan was to meet for an 8:00 start at the new trail head lot, which looks rather nice. Laurie, her husband Russ and his son Marcus arrived on time and Bob and I introduced ourselves as we began to pack up our gear. By 8:10 there was no sign of Bobby or Bill so we struck out on our own hoping they arrived just a little late and could catch us as we went. The Maynard family were packed to bear since they had plans to stay overnight at the Kinsman tent platforms, so Bob and I carried most of the flag gear in stripped down day packs. But Russ volunteered to carry one of the two 10 foot sections of pole we had. We started cruising down the new route to pick up the old logging road that served as the previous trailhead. We passed the sugar shack, and not too long afterwards had Bobby come running up behind us. He said he overslept but managed to start only about 10 minutes after us, so no harm no foul. We came to the first water crossing and took a nice pause to catch our wind. Laurie was starting to feel the effects of their previous week’s epic adventure, so she said to keep pushing and she would catch up. We still managed to keep together for a while, so she handled things like a trooper.
About a quarter of the way up Bill came huffing and puffing up to us. He related how he made an interesting mistake and confused route 118 and 116, and thus got a solid 40 minute late start from us. He cooked off the distance to catch up and was feeling awfully wiped so we took another extended break so he could recover a bit. After that it was full stem ahead as we trudged past the Bald Knob spur and began the steeper ascent to the ridge. By now Laurie had fallen back with Marcus keeping watch over her as Russ, still carrying his section of pole, kept to us. He decided he would pass off his section at the junction with Kinsman Ridge trail and wait for Laurie. So that is what he did when we got there and from there Bob, Bobby, Bill and I pushed forward to make the noon deadline. About half way up from the junction we ran into a couple who had already been out to South Kinsman and we asked if the had run into a group or anyone carrying poles and gear. They told us no, and it was time for our contingency plan. We had hoped South Kinsman would get covered by “accident” by Nurses On Top. But when it became obvious it was up to us my man Bobby stepped up to the plate. He took the only spare flag I had, a 12”x18” stick mounted American flag, and he charged out to South Kinsman where he would sit, alone, until 2pm.
Bob, Bill and I started rigging the poles and flag and preparing our guy lines. We got it all pretty well set up when Marcus came out and said Laurie and Russ would be along shortly. With the rig ready we released the flag and…it fell limply against the pole. There was an occasional gust, but the 8’x10’ flag just could not get enough wind in it to really unfurl. I also took the time to duct tape small 12”x18” flags from all 5 armed services to the guy lines. We sat around and talked for a long time, occasionally a visitor or three stopping in. One group of three were SoBo thru hikers out slack packing for the day, one of whom, ironically, had just come back from Afghanistan not long ago. We also had one person pass through that came back a second time that, for whatever reason, I completely spaced out on and did not realize until his return and Bob started talking to him that it was Matts Roing! Good to see him again and in good spirits! The clouds kept cruising in and out, and the best we could get was an occasional glimpse of Cannon Mountain (no flag visible but we had no doubt it was their as Tom and Laurie Rankin were covering it). That was it. Franconia ridge tempted us occasionally, but the summits clearing never fully materialized.
As 2pm came we started breaking down gear and packing up. We waited for Bobby as Laurie, Russ and Marcus prepared to slack pack over to South Kinsman to tag it for their list. When Bobby arrived about half an hour later, flag waving proud from his pack, we finished up, put on packs, and said goodbye to the Maynard family till next time. From then on it was a long, somewhat easy, walk out (about as easy carrying 10 foot long poles can be) to the cars. From there we lingered a bit before we made the migration over to the Tarry Ho campground for the post event get-together (oh yeah, and for FOOD!!!!) It was great to see so many familiar faces and to pass out the many thank you’s that needed to go out. The burger was great and I even tempted fate with a hot dog!
Thank you to everyone who participated. It was another great year, and it was great to see so many retuning and new faces. May next year be just as great!
BrianBugfoodSeptember 13, 2009 at 3:03 pmPost count: 6
Very nice report, Brian.
First, thanks for letting me tag along with you guys. Sorry I was late at the trailhead, it won’t happen again….maybe!
Second, thanks for the privilege of raising our Flag over South Kinsman.
As I made my way over to South, it was already after 12:00 PM, so I unfurled the flag Brian had given me and let it wave as I trotted to South K. After arriving on the summit at about 12:25, I duct taped the flag to one of my hiking poles and placed the “rig” on top of the summit cairn.
After few minutes by myself, a SOBO thru hiker, Trampoline, came by. He asked if he could hang out, and the company was welcome. Shortly thereafter, I saw coming through the fog a man running, wearing a floppy white hat…it was Mats Roing! More people arrived, one gentleman silently saluted the Flag as he passed by. I got the occasional glimpse of the Flag on North K through the clouds, but couldn’t see any other peaks.
By 2:00 PM, it was me and two other hikers. I lowered the Flag, leaving it unfurled and taped to the pole, and attached it to my pack. I got back to North K, meeting up with the rest of the crew, and we began the hike out.
It was great to hike with Brian and Bob again, and it was nice to meet Russ, Laurie, Marcus and Pucknuts.
Huge thanks to Bob and Geri for hosting the after-party. It as nice to see some old faces and meet some new folks.
Congrats to all who participated in this great event.
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