PucknutsParticipantSeptember 13, 2005 at 2:51 pmPost count: 54
I didn’t think that last year’s event would ever be topped. The weather was perfect, the hike was beautiful, and there were numerous people to enjoy the day. Now I know that this event will just keep getting better and gain momentum as the years move on. More people we met knew about the Flags on the 48 than last year, and those that didn’t, now do.
Brownie and I started out Saturday morning to hike the Gale River Trail to spend the night at Galehead Hut. We met at 8:00 at my house to do some last minute work on the pole because we ended up with a larger flag than we planned. Our set-up was for a 5×8 but thanks to my co-workers John Rainone, Paul Nugent and Bob Riemer, we now had a 6×10 flag for this year’s event. The adjustments were made and we were off for the 3 hour drive to NH. We made it to the trailhead and started our hike to the hut around 12 and hit the hut about 3.
A few people along the way and at the hut had asked what we were doing especially since we were each carrying 2 sections of 7-8 foot lengths of 2” PVC on our backs along with several hundred feet of rope and flags sticking out everywhere on our packs, but a lot more people were stopping to talk about how to get involved in the event and what a fantastic way to remember 9/11.
The hut stay was uneventful but we were glad to do a headlamp hike Saturday night to the summit of Galehead to check out the stars and hopefully see the Northern Lights (no luck as they weren’t seen until about 2AM). We woke up Sunday morning and packed up for the hike up the last mile to the summit of South Twin. The trail from the hut to the summit isn’t exactly an easy one as there are a few good size rocks to navigate and a little over 1000 feet of ascent in that .8 tenths of a mile but we were filled with American Spirit and made the summit in under an hour then went right to work. With all the engineering Brownie had put into the pole construction, we had an easy time with the set-up and Old Glory was raised in about a ½ hour. We then took a few more minutes to add some prayer flags for the victims of Katrina.
There really was something special about the day and it wasn’t just the feeling of pride we had while raising the colors, it seemed the entire atmosphere was buzzing with emotions…..from sadness for those lost to joy in seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Our first surprise was when Cousin Janet came up over the summit to help support our team. We had no idea that our emails to friends about the event would be answered in such a positive way that they would just do whatever it took to be there with us.
Were it was still before Noon, we thought it would be great to visit some of the other summits, so we left Janet to baby-sit our flag while we took off for a quick trip to North Twin to meet Tom Rankin and Laurie.
On the way we heard a jet and turned around in time to watch a military A10 buzz our summit and then do a barrel roll right over our flag. We were so mesmerized watching the pilot fly over and maneuver around the peaks in the area that we only were able to take pictures as he flew away towards the Pemi to buzz the Franconia Ridge. It was simply an awesome sight!
Our third surprise was meeting my friend Wildpeaks (Tom) and his friend John on the trail to N Twin. They had helped the N Twin crew move their flag and were on their way to surprise us when we met on the trail. After a few minutes of introductions and giving thanks to John who had just returned from active duty in Iraq, we split up so they could go to S Twin and we moved on to meet the N Twin crew knowing that we’d meet up a little later. By the time we met the N Twin crew of Tom and Laurie it was past Noon and all the summits would have flags flying. Fortunately Tom had brought one of the largest pair of binoculars I’d ever seen (they were actually 2 telescopes welded together!) so we spent a few minutes flag spotting some of the other peaks including: Hale, Galehead, Lincoln, Liberty, Garfield, Owls Head, and Cannon. We parted ways and moved back to S Twin to be with our flag and friends for the rest of the day.
The best part of the day had to be the reminder of what this event was all about. A little before 2:00, two gentlemen from Virginia came over the summit and were awe-stuck at the sight of our flag. After sharing with them the purpose of the event and explaining that each one of the summits they saw were also doing this, one of them could no longer speak as he was too filled with emotions. We received many thanks but none seemed as special as this one.
We had a moment of silent reflection and then Janet, Tom, and John helped with the lowering of the colors before we all hiked out to meet some of the other teams at The Mooseland. There we met SilentCal and Chris from the Flags BOD and Hike-NH.com, and MtnMagic (Cabot), Sherpa John and Sherpette (Bond), and many others that were there to end a glorious day. Special congratulations go out to Dave Diver who finished his 48th on Cabot today and thanks to Julie, Paula, and Diane for being there (We were there in spirit).
Can’t wait for next year! :flag:
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