New HampshireSeptember 11, 2006 at 11:25 pmPost count: 168
Last year I was in the unfortunate position of not being able to participate in the FOT48 event. With a years worth of excitement building I promised myself a special birthday present…..no matter what I was hiking this years event. The only thing to decide was with who and where. Well, the choice became an easy one when Bill (Pucknuts) mentioned he and his long time good friend Brownie were getting Garfield. Hey, two good hearted guys and a most beautiful peak……how could I go wrong!? So with a little typing and a click, Jen and I were headed for Garfield.
The night before the event was hectic. I’ve gotten so used to hiking Sundays that trying to throw everything together on Friday night was crazy. I hardly slept a wink thinking of the adventure to come. An adventure that would see old friends as well as new come together for a special and moving moment. This would not be just your “ordinary” hike, but one with a deep seeded emotional meaning. With thoughts like that running through your head, sleeping takes a back seat. Morning could not come quick enough, and when it did everything kicked into overdrive. We had to rush out so we could meet Jim (SilentCal) at the Mt. Cleavland Scenic stop for a quick get together. We finally got to meet the highly talked about Cathie, who was sporting proudly her new ring. Jim also got to meet Quint and Diane, a couple who’s enthusiasm for hiking knows no bounds….did I mention they just started hiking this July!? We sat talking for a little bit before I looked at the watch and freaked out because we were running a bit late. We were supposed to meet at 7:30 SHARP, so we had to scurry away with rather short goodbyes.
We pulled into the Garfield Trail parking lot a little after 7:30.….and no Bill or Brownie! Ok, well at least we were on time. Quint, Diane, Jen and I started getting ready as we waited for the rest of the group assembled. While waiting a woman came over and asked us if we were part of the Flags Group. We said yes, and she introduced herself as Brownies Cousin Jan. She had come to surprise him, which she did….as well as Bill. They came rolling in with Tom (WildPeaks) fashionably late and blaming the fact they had to pick up Tom….ha, excuses. We all started packing away the gear as we waited for Doug to show, as well as another woman none of us had met named Regina. Unfortunately she did not appear, but Doug did as well as two men who asked if they could join along (unfortunately their names escape me right now…sorry guys.) Aww heck, we were more than happy to, and these two would provide a little extra spice to the flag fly as you will see later.
With the group assembled we took off up the trail, me carrying the flag, Tom and Bill each pole sections, Diane, Quint, Jan and Jen rope and other odds and ends. We moved along at a generous pace, talking away and having a glorious time. I know this is supposed to be a memorial of a somber time in our country’s history, but in true American style we turned tragedy into something of respectful fun. How can you not have fun when you are in the company of some of the greatest, warmest, funniest people to walk a trail.
With plenty of time to spare we summated Garfield in style. Quint and Diane had never been here before, and I had yet to see the view. It was simply stunning to say the least! It took our breaths away! But there would be plenty of time for gawking….right now we had a mission. Almost immediately the whole team scurried up to the old foundation and set to work unpacking and preparing gear. Brownie took charge with Bill close in tow making final decisions on where the pole would go. Brownies rig, complicated looking to the average onlooker, is one really of simplicity for this old sailboat driver! He slipped knots here, tied off ‘biners there, plumbed the pole everywhere. This thing was slick as slick gets. With everything looking prefect to Brownie, we brought out the star of the show….an huge 8’x10’ American flag. A few quick knots on either end and the ‘Stars and Stripes’ was flying over Garfield……with 10 minutes to go to 12:00!!!! The gentlemen who joined us then asked if they could fly a flag below ours. They had brought along a United States Marine Corps flag owned by their friend who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq this past year. So with a couple of bungee cords the red flag of this country’s oldest military branch flew in its proper place….below only the flag of this nation. Hooah Devil Dogs!
With the gathering crowd now excited we all took to taking a much deserved rest. We all scattered all over the place, taking in views, eating some food, and getting into more good conversations. A few of us took to magnification equipment to start spotting other summit flags. With a thick haze in the sky we could only see out to Flume on our right and Bondcliff to the left. North Twin was spotted (HELOOOOOO Jim, can you see us!), South Twin, all three Bonds, Galehead broke treetop level, and all of Franconia Ridge. But the one I was anxious for was Owls Head. There had been much build up to Sherpa Johns promise to break tree level. With some intense spotting, I finally caught a glimpse of red……HORAHHH, THEY DID IT!!!!
As we sat idling around, Brownie and Doug kept a close watch on some nasty clouds gathering off in the distance. Before long we watched as Lafayette got socked in tight, the clouds rising an building over her. The rest of the ridge would soon follow. A rumble of thunder issued across the sky and we got concerned real quick….more for those now getting hit on the Ridge than for ourselves. We watched amazed as the storm skipped high over the Pemi and then dumped down socking in South Twin. By now we were getting a little rain, and decisions were starting to be made. With a second rumble of thunder we decided to call it quits. We pulled everything down and packed up just in time since as we started down the skies opened up on us.
We all scurried down quick as we could, getting wet in the first hour. The rain tapered off eventually, however, allowing for a little more comfort. The group had split up a bit, Jen, Brownie, Jan and I emptying out into the parking lot first. The rest of the group followed about 15 minutes behind, happy and talking away as if no rain had fallen. But no sooner had everyone stripped off gear and started changing a second wave of thunderheads rolled in and gave us an amazing light show, followed by torrential rain. We all had to give short goodbyes as we all rushed off to our cars to keep from getting soaked again.
So with that, my first FOT48 event came to an end. It was the most amazing thing I have done to date in these hills of ours (and that says a lot for a guy who ate a full turkey dinner at Lonesome Lake hut with a bunch of people in suits and dresses!) Brownie and Bill proved to be tremendous team leaders, and the rest of our group rounded out a bunch that made this all memorable. SilentCal has mentioned me taking a peak for next years event. But I honestly feel I have found myself a home with Team B&B for quite a while! Thank you everyone for helping make this memorial hike something that I, those unsuspecting summit goers, and this country, will never forget. And here is to many more!!!!!
BrianBrownieSeptember 21, 2006 at 5:01 pmPost count: 34
Thanks Brian for that great trip report! Bill and I were really excited about having a full team to help out this year. Everyone had such a great attitude and support for our cause.
Unsure about our goals for next year, maybe head over to the Presidentials and include a Hut stay.
Hope you and Jen join us again too.
BrownieNew HampshireSeptember 21, 2006 at 10:13 pmPost count: 168
From the looks of it, Brownie, you can expect the full team back again next year! Jen and I are sooooo in, Quint and Diane are most likely a lock, and Im sure Doug will be happily joining….now we just gotta worry about that shifty guy Tom 😆 😉 .
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