New HampshireSeptember 15, 2010 at 1:11 amPost count: 168
This story started on what was a happy Sunday the 5th of September. I had finished spending the day with Jim (SilentCal) by enjoying a nice dinner with him and his wife Cathie in Lincoln. I parted with them intending to come back again on Tuesday to spend the day, but I was not prepared for what would come in just a few short hours. At about 11:30 I received a most heartbreaking message from Jim. He told me that his youngest daughter Kristen was dead, that he was packing up and heading home, and that our intended peak for Flags, Mt. Tom, was now in my hands. Almost immediately I contacted Bill (Pucknuts) who was on our team and told him “we have a problem, we need a rig.” After explaining what the story was he said we could cobble together something no problem, so I left the pole to him while I went out the next day for a flag. I purchased a 3’x5’ from WalMart (and would you believe it, it is actually made in the USA!?!?) and Bill said later in the week he had two 10’ lengths of PVC he set up with a connector. Bill and I knew it was not fancy, that is was super simple, but it should serve our needs just fine and that is all that mattered.
Saturday morning I hit the road with my “cousin-in-law” Carl who is just getting into hiking seriously, and for whom Tom would be his first 4K. We drove up first to the Highland Center (for a pit stop and so I could pick up a couple of copies of AMC Outdoors for Jim because there is an article about Flags in there) where we met a few familiar faces getting ready to start their day as well. We then drove down the short distance to Crawford Depot. Where we would meet the rest of our crew, including Jay (Jaytrek) and his dog Jackson as well as Team Field, folks I know (and love) well, my fellow Fool Scouts Gary and Russ as well as Karen (Happyhiker), Steve, Christa, Gracillis and Wenzel (the two Chris’). We also bumped into Sandy (Trainwreck) who was going up to Tom with some friends to see us. We waited until 9 and all hit the trail in good spirits under gorgeous blue skies and awesome temps.
We took our time chugging along until a little bit before the junction of A-Z and Avalon trails. Here we bumped into a couple more familiar faces, Rob (OG Rob) who I had not heard from in a while and was wondering about what had happened to him just earlier last week! Another familiar face was Tom (Wildpeaks) who had come up to surprise Bill because he always laments to Tom “You never surprise me!” Well today would be a surprise for sure seeing as there was no snow on the ground (Tom’s motto seems to be “no snow, no-go”), but he held back a bit since he hoped to reveal himself on the summit. I could see him just around the corner from the junction quietly urging me to get Bill moving again, which I finally did. We got moving again and I kept back to catch up with Tom. Not long into our getting moving again we would bump into yet another familiar face. I had a woman ask me “are you Brian.” “yes I am” I replied. She told me “I’m Tagalong, Josh’s mother” and sure enough it was then I noticed Josh standing behind her! It was good to see him again since it had been a while since we had last met also. So now a good sub group we pushed further up to the ridge and came to the Mt. Tom spur. I shot ahead since I was carrying the flag leaving the others to catch up at their own pace. I sped along to the fir wave where Jay and Bill were unpacking gear to get it ready. We got the poles all set, the guy lines rigged, the flag attached and up it all went with a little “yikes”,”ooh” and an “ahhh”. We then taped the flags for all 5 military services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard…yes Steve, the Coast Guard is still a branch of the military!). The final touch was to fulfill a request by Jim. I set up a candle on the cairn right under the flag pole, attached a prayer card I had taken from Kristen’s wake to it, and lit it for the entire 2 hours we flew the flag.
The hard part done we took to flag spotting with the naked eye and binoculars. With both means we were able to see flags on: Field, Hale, Zealand, North Twin, South Twin, Bond, Carrigain and Passaconaway. I did not make my way over to the viewpoint looking towards the Presis, but I assume most of those were visible too. We had a number of visitors come to see us including a large group bearing a woman finishing her 48! Her friends had brought her up balloons that they tied to trees (and later removed…good LNT practices you know!) Another familiar face also made an appearance as well, and it was Jim’s friend Tim who was without his wife Vicki who had unfortunately broken her toe earlier in the week. It was nice to see him as well. When 1:58 came around we had everyone on the summit, about 20 strong, observe a moment of silence in honor of Kristen Carol Crowell, Jim and Cathie’s daughter, as Jay, Bill, Tom and I encircled the cairn upon which the candle was burning. At 2:00, I blew out the candle, we brought the pole down, and we packed it all up.
We returned back down to the Spur junction where we waited for Russ’ crew from Field to come down and meet us. While we were waiting Jay lost track of Jackson for about 10 minutes. When he finally came trotting back up the trail a guy passing him said “looks like he found a porcupine”. Jay thought the guy was joking and knew about the story of how Jackson had recently tangled with his second porky in the last month or so. Well, he was sure wrong! Jackson was bristling from the mouth, nose and paw with quills. So 5 of us attempted to coax him to remain still so we could pull them out. It is amazing how Jackson so desperately wanted them out of his face, but yet did not want us to be the ones jerking them out! He pushed the five of us around like we were rag dolls before we finally got him to lay down so Jay could get them all out. He gave Jackson a thorough check through, a scolding, and then let him drink as much water as he could take. Thankfully Jackson was back to his usual self within half an hour, but I don’t think Jay will let him forget it for quite a while.
Now with Russ’ crew down with us we all set off back to the cars. The trip down was nice and smooth, all of us moving at respectable paces. We got back to the cars a shade before 5:00 and we all began making our plans for dinner. Some were heading to Fabian’s, some to Fabian’s and then Truant’s, and some to just Truant’s. Actually Carl and I were SUPPOSED to meet Joe and Mike at the North Twin trailhead where Greg and Desi would meet us also so we could caravan over to Truant’s, but I seemed to be the only one who understood the plan as I found NO ONE there and found out they had all gone to Truant’s without us…thanks guys! We ordered food…and actually got it over half an hour later…and enjoyed meeting folks from all over the hills who had participated in Flags: Rolly who was on Lafayette with Frodo’s team, Cumulus and his two teammates from Middle Tri., the rest of Team Ike, and then Bill, Karen, Russ and Jay (the last three of whom got fed up with the ridiculously long wait time for food and thus went up the street to Woodstock Inn).
All in all this was another banner year. I wish Jim and Cathie could have been there for the magic, but they remand in our thoughts all day long. It was for them and Kristen Crowell that we dedicated our efforts to this day. Rest in peace Kristen…
BrianRollySeptember 15, 2010 at 2:02 amPost count: 25
Awesome TR Brian. Great seeing you at Truant’s.SilentCalModeratorSeptember 15, 2010 at 1:02 pmPost count: 1291
Words fail me now. Thank you is easy for now.
My wife and I have a long road ahead but people like Brian around, I know my decisions will be grounded. Thanks Buddy for all the PM’s, your support and putting up with me.New HampshireSeptember 15, 2010 at 10:01 pmPost count: 168
Words fail me now. Thank you is easy for now.
My wife and I have a long road ahead but people like Brian around, I know my decisions will be grounded. Thanks Buddy for all the PM’s, your support and putting up with me.
I keep telling ya, your my bro Jimmy. If anything we have built up these last 5 years it is an understanding we can rely on each other for just about anything. I would walk to the gates of hell and moon Satan for ya buddy. 8)
BrianTrainwreckSeptember 16, 2010 at 5:39 pmPost count: 3
It was a great day with a fun group.
You were all warm and welcoming.
It was a pleasure to honor those lost on Sept 11th as well as those still fighting for us overseas. Of course, it was very sad to see a candle for such a beautiful young woman whose life ended too early.
Our thoughts remain with you.
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