A Leg That Works Again: Mount Tecumseh Flags on the 48 9-14-13
Tribute to the Fallen
Mount Tecumseh Trail/Sosman Trail/Ski Trails and road
6 miles 2200? Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and many others
This was the first time I had hiked a mountain since late July. I had been sidelined since then following knee surgery. In late July I was hit in the knee with a hockey puck. Despite wearing enough gear to make me resemble Robocop, it always seems to to be my luck that the three ounce piece of vulcanized rubber finds a chink in the armor. This time it was my right knee, one which I had surgery on before. I finished the game with the old "That's gonna hurt in the morning!" attitude, but by the time I had showered and had a couple of post game beers my knee had swelled enough to look like someone had transplanted a football where my knee should have been. Next morning I went to the orthopedist who ordered x-rays and was concerned that the amount of swelling could mean a fracture.
I had an MRI the next day and when I returned for the results he informed me that despite the swelling the puck had mostly only done soft-tissue damage, there was however significant previous damage of which I was quite aware. There were multiple "floating" pieces of torn cartilage swimming around in my knee, and lots of scar tissue on my ACL, along with obvious signs of arthritis. We decided then and there it was time to fix the knee, it was long overdue. After my first surgery in '01 I had rushed back to hiking and playing hockey and re-injured it, but refused to be side-lined again, so I basically have been hopping around on one good leg for the last twelve years, compensating for the injury by using my good leg to bear most of my weight, using hiking poles, and limping a lot. The leg had become all but useless over the last few years, though I had continued to hike and play hockey.
Within a day or two I went in for the surgery. Despite the nervous apprehension beforehand, the surgery itself was really a piece of cake, I was in and out in less than an hour. Probably the worst part was the poorly done intravenous in the back of my hand. A brief summary of the procedure sounded like this: 1) Right knee arthroscopy with extensive synovectomy. 2) Removal of multiple loose bodies. 3) Chondroplasty of medial femoral condyle, lateral femoral condyle, trochlea, and patella. 4) Debridement of acutely torn and chronically torn ACL fibers. Someday I may actually look these words up and see what they all mean. Within a week or so of agonizing physical therapy, (there is really nothing quite like laying face down while someone tries to make your heel touch your ass) my knee was feeling much better. What became a problem, and still is for the time being, was my leg, ass, and lower back above the repaired knee, which had been bearing the brunt of my abnormal walking for the last twelve years. We are still working on getting those back into place, but it is coming along nicely and has been improving. The leg actually feels much better after hiking both Saturday and Sunday of last weekend.
Some of the Many Dogs Who Joined Us on the Summit
Enough about me. I had hoped to be back on the trail in time for this hike, and I was. The ortho gave me the OK on 9/11/13, fitting it seemed, as I was hoping to, and looking forward to making the annual Flags on the 48 hike. Mount Tecumseh seemed within my reach, and it turned out that it was. I made it to the top with a good number of other folks, some aware of the planned reminiscence at the top, others impressed by it as it unfolded. During the two hours the American Flag flew above the summit I would estimate between 40 and 50 people joined us for part or in whole. The sky never cleared so there were no views, but it didn't seem to make any difference to anyone, Tecumseh is not known for its views anyway. We did hear the Blackhawk make a flyby at a distance, but never saw it. I was asked to raise the flag, and then lead those at the summit in the Pledge of Allegiance. As a Disabled American Veteran I found this a great honor, and thank those who allowed me to do this.
Boy Scout Troop 5 from Bedford, NH
We passed the time on the summit sharing memories of where and when as that awful day in our history unfolded twelve years before. We were joined on the summit by a couple of Boy Scout Troops, one of whom carried their own flag and pole. A friend had also carried a fireman's helmet to the summit which was worn during the search through the rubble in the horrible aftermath of that day. One could not help but feel humbled by the experience as thankfulness welled in our hearts remembering that we were blessed to be born in a country where freedom is a gift and not a dream. I could not help but to shed some tears as I gazed at Old Glory fluttering in the light breeze above the fog-drenched spruce. At this point in my life I am considerably more thankful for what I have than I had been when younger. I guess when you reach a certain age and you don't see as much of a struggle to get by as you once did you begin to realize just how lucky you have been to get to that point.
At 2pm we lowered the flag and disassembled the poles which had held it aloft. With pride and care Judy and I folded it again to hand to a fellow hiker who was equally as proud to carry it back down the mountain. To descend we followed the Sosman Trail to the top of the ski area and followed various ski trails until we hooked up with the access road. I had been more worried about the descent than I was about the hike up. Wet stones, wet leaves and lots of mud was a recipe for disaster for my new knee, and they were the cause of me reinjuring the knee shortly after the first surgery way back when. I was thankful we descended by overgrown fields and a relatively dry road. In the parking lot we were greeted by a fellow hiker who had joined us on the summit, but had left early to descend at his own pace. I imagine it will give away his identity to say that he had cold PBR and Diet Coke, along with empty Diet Coke bottles refilled with beautiful water filled from the spring at Boise Rock. He threatened to rescind a couple of Red-line and Grid Awards to some all-star hikers among us who did not know the legend of Boise Rock. Consider this if you aspire to be a Redliner or Gridiot.
That night we met at a friends nearby to celebrate the day with other hikers who had a similar day as ours on different mountains. A much appreciated supper and hot fire was had, and many stories of the day and past and present hikes was shared. Judy and I were camped nearby and spent a cool and quiet night as the moon shone bright behind passing clouds. The morning brought a bright new day which we spent the first part of visiting some property we might be interested in, then visiting some friends. After lunch we hiked out Livermore Road and revisited The Scaur, The Kettles and Big Pines, all worthy destinations despite the relative ease of reaching each of them. To me The Scaur was actually harder to reach than the summit of Tecumseh as there was a difficult water crossing where the trail left the Greeley Ponds Trail, then a steady, steep climb of close to a mile before topping out on the rock escarpment which offers a great view to the west/southwest encompassing Sandwich Dome and the Waterville Valley ski area of Mount Tecumseh. That evening we got subs and salad in Waterville and brought them back to the now deserted campground where we were the only campers left. Towards dawn there was some light rain which mercifully let up before we climbed out of our sleeping bags to break down camp. There were tremendous cloud and sky scenes as we made or way back south and home.
Complete set of pics HERE: