One week ago today, almost exactly to the hour, the hikers on our Fifth Annual Summit Mt. Washington hike for mental health began to reach the peak of that magnificent 6,289 foot rock that towers over New England.
More than five dozen hikers from eight states turned out for our popular 10-mile round-trip hike in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. After donning our orange shirts and bandanas, about half the group, including the self-named Hiking Hooliganz, headed off for the Ammonoosuc Trail while the rest of us paused to take a group photo at the Cog Railroad Marshfield Station. Director of Hike Development Diana Pease led us in a moment of silence to reflect on the reasons we were all hiking – the 1 in 4 families with a member suffering from mental illness. Then we headed out up the Jewell Trail.
High water made the stream crossing a little tricky, and it took a little teamwork for everyone to get across. Soon the group was ascending through the forest before breaking out above treeline and into the alpine zone.
Of course, we had the trains on the cog railroad to keep us company for the final ascent, with our Director of Hiker Registration Donna Keefer and other supporters waving from on-board the train to encourage our tired legs up the mountainside.
The final 1.5 mile climb to the summit was rewarded with clear skies and stunning 360 degree views.
After the hike, we gathered at the Twin Mountain KOA for an amazing pot luck feast with enough food to feed a small army, including delicious Urugayan food generously donated by Yolanda’s Food Truck in Leominster, MA.
So many people to recognize
Sue Twombley, the original founder of our Summit Mt. Washington hike, who was on-hand with copies of her autobiographical book, Hiding Behind The Laughter. Thank you, Sue, for the vision to see what this hike could become.
The organizer of this year’s hike, Staci Formaggia, did an outstanding job planning, promoting and coordinating the weekend. She was tireless in her efforts to bring awareness to the event and to the cause of eliminating the stigma of mental illness.
We also thank all the hiking photographers – Pat H., Bill, Pat Z., Michelle L, Brandon, Laurie, Mel, and others – who contributed to our photo gallery for the day. (Hikers, if I have missed any photos that should be in the gallery, please let me know where to find them and I will pull them in.)
Special thanks to all the hikers and their sponsors who together raised more than $9,400! 100% of the donations from this hike will go to mental health research, trail conservancy and efforts to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.
One last thought
At some point over the weekend, one hiker said to another, “I have severe depression, I’m so glad I can verbalize it here. It is not something I walk around the office saying.” Wow! One conversation at a time, one step at a time, we are doing our part to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.
Thank you all for making our 5th Annual Summit Mt. Washington so special in so many hearts! See you next August!
If you wish to see these photos in a thumbnail gallery, click here.