2020VisionQuest is his way of raising funds for and awareness of the invaluable services that other organizations such as the The New Hampshire Association for the Blind, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Having put off this hike one week because of the Super Bowl all ready, I had it in my head that I didn't want to push this back again. I thought long and hard about the weather forecast, the risks, the problem solving. And then I went back to a conversation I had had over a year ago with fellow hikers in New England. One hiking enthusiast had warned his brethren that winds above tree-line were to reach above 60mph on the upcoming weekend and told (not suggested) hikers to pick different peaks to hike given the forecast. I argued that, this practice in particular robs individuals the valuable experience of A.) Feeling 60mph winds and B.) Gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to make sound judgements to turn back in the future... on their own... without a know-it-all holding their hand. I knew that this weekend was one of those hikes to gain such experience.
On the way up to the notch we confirmed earlier conversations about our plans. The forecast this morning called for increasing clouds, snow 2-4", winds 60-80 MPH with higher gusts diminishing later at night with higher gusts. A warm front moving in from the South/SouthWest could make things sticky. Knowing the terrain we were going to be on well, our plan was to try and obtain the Greenleaf Hut, assess the situation and if all seemed right, to hike to tree-line so Randy can feel winter's wrath against his body and face. Randy agreed with the plan. We had no intentions of summiting but knew that if for some holier-than-thou reason we had the opportunity, we still might take it.
We made it to the Lafayette Place campground to find Robby Caldwell and his girlfriend Sophie preparing for the hike. Robby brought 2 friends, in a separate car, who had summit dreams so they left ahead of us. Randy, Sarah and I then waited for Randy's gang of friends, Lianna, Claire, Steven and his son Steven. By 8:45 our group of 9 was saddled up and ready to take on Lafayette one step at a time.
|Robby and Randy|
The best part of hiking with Randy is that... I don't view him as someone with a disability and this is important. Randy is my friend. He's honest, candid, caring and full of life yet to live. I often forget that he's visually impaired and this is evident by the number of times he walked straight into a branch out on the trail (sorry bud!). Together we're always smiling, laughing, joking and giving each other about as much guff as we can each take without thinking it was personal. You'd think that, most people who are committed to a disability such as Randy's choose to suffer. They'll do what they need to do to get by. But not Randy... Randy takes life by the balls, says "Screw it!" to all the rules and dares to achieve a Vision Greater then his own.. I'm eternally grateful to be a part of Randy's Journey.. from our First Hike up Agamenticus, to our 8 days in the Pemi... I hope the chapters keep coming.
(2020 Vision Quest inspires people to reach beyond adversity and achieve their highest goals -- personal, professional, and philanthropic. We believe in leading by example, in climbing the highest peaks, and in sharing our successes and challenges with each other. Funds raised through these endeavors will be given to two remarkable organizations which benefit the visually impaired community: Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. To learn more please visit: http://www.2020visionquest.org/)