Our seventh annual Summit Mt. Washington hike created memories that will last a lifetime, forged new friendships, spawned dozens of stunning photos and raised a record amount for mental health research and trail conservation. How much, you ask? Keep reading – there is much more of the story to tell first.
The hike up the highest peak in the Northeast began as always with morning check-in, the renewal of old friendships from our six prior Summit Mt. Washington hikes, and the welcoming of first-timers. Once everyone was checked in and HIKE for Mental Health shirts were doled out to those who had raised a $100 or more (look at that sea of orange!), it was time for the group photo. (If you reached $100 after we mailed shirts to the hike, don’t fear; your shirts are being mailed directly to your house over the next 10 days.)
For the seventh year in row, beautiful weather greeted the hikers as they began the short walk from the parking area to the trail head.
Soon the forested base of the mountain enclosed the hikers in a fragrant canopy of greens and browns, while the sound of the stream gurgling nearby provided background to the quiet conversations among the hikers.
Once above treeline, the summit came into view. The gorgeous weather held, blessing the hikers with stunning panoramic views.
Rock cairns, weathered wooden signs, and a string of moving orange dots marked the path to the summit.
Each hiker came with his or her own purpose, his or her own story. Some of those reasons for hiking were shared at the beginning of the hike by Diana as the group paused to remember and to honor those intentions. The power of those motivations became apparent in sheer determination to reach the summit.
Finally, after hours of relentless uphill hiking and nearly 4,000 feet of vertical gain, the summit!
There as many stories to tell from this hike as there were hikers. And just about as many people to thank. For some hikers, this experience was life-altering. For virtually all, it was life-affirming. At the end of the day and in the days that followed, we heard over and over again, “I’ll see you next year,” as hikers were already looking forward to our Eighth Summit Mount Washington!
Thanks to Sue Twombley who conceived the idea for the hike in 2012 and continues to promote it across the region. Volunteer leader leader Brandon and sweeps Karen and Jeff cheerfully share their hiking expertise to make sure everyone gets safely up and down the mountain. Thanks to Diana, Joanne, Amy and everyone who provided logistical support, on and off the trail.
And the biggest thank you goes to volunteer hike organizer Staci Formaggia. Planning this hike is a nearly year-round activity and Staci is there every step of the way, coordinating plans, promoting the event, answering questions, and keeping us all pumped up. Thank you, Staci, for your leadership!!
And now for the unveiling. This hike is about so much more than the funds we raise. The friendships that form, the memories that will persist, the sense of personal victory upon reaching the summit, the feelings of acceptance and hope that prove we can overcome the stigma of mental illness – these are what Summit Mt. Washington is about. The fundraising is the icing on the cake, and every penny raised helps drive break-through research into the brain and behavior disorders and to conserve our amazing national scenic trails.
In the end, an even fifty hikers reached or exceeded the $100 mark on their fundraising pages. Amazing! Fourteen hikers exceeded $500, and six people broke the $1,000 level.
This year our top fundraiser, with a grand total of $2,816, was John Lyscars! Congratulations, John. This year’s prize, a brand new pair of Leki Trekking Poles, generously donated by Leki, will be in the mail to you soon.
So how much did we raise? The enthusiasm of the hikers and the generosity of their supporters prompted 491 donations for a grand total of $23,424! That is fify percent higher than last year’s total, which was itself a new record.
Our Seventh Annual Summit Mt. Washington was indeed a day for reaching new heights. I can’t wait for Summit Mt. Washington 2019!
Check out photo gallery, thanks for Brandon, Pat, Amanda, Jeff, Staci and Sitha. (If you have photos from the hike you want to contribute, just let me know and we can add them.)