17th Annual Hike to Honor Paul Perry: Fallen Massachusetts State Trooper 7/30/11
The Group at Pinkham
Mount Washington 6288' / Boott Spur 5500'
Tuckerman Ravine Trail / Lion Head Trail / Lawn Cut-off / Davis Path / Boott Spur Trail
8.8 Miles 4450' Elevation gain
A Very Large Group of Hikers Along to Honor Paul Perry, Fallen Massachusetts State Trooper : http://www.odmp.org/officer/782-troo...l-andrew-perry
On occasion I have the privilege of joining a special hike, this was one of those occasions. I got to join 55-60 people who had come to Pinkham Notch to climb Mount Washington in honor and remembrance of Paul Perry who died in the line of duty as a Massachusetts State Trooper. I have known of this hike for several years, it has often coincided with the Mount Washington Observatory's Seek the Peak event. Several times during Seek the Peak I have seen a large group of folks hiking to the summit in shirts adorning the Massachusetts State Police Air Wing on the chest and wondered what it was about. It was on one of these coinciding hikes that I met Bobby Butler and found out what it was all about.
Ascending the Lion Head Trail
This event did not coincide with Seek the Peak this year, so I was able to attend both, a first for me. I joined Bobby and his son, and friends Linda and dog friend Blue with the rest of those who had come to honor Paul. As I said before, it was a privilege, and I felt honored to be included. I did not know Paul, but I understood immediately that he was well liked by many and loved well by many more. I'm sure there would have been many more in attendance if they could have been, but there was a very good showing, and it was truly an honor to this man's sacrifice. I know he would have been touched by this outpouring for him, and there is no doubt in my heart that he smiled down upon this event this year as he has for the past 17 years.
Above Lion Head and into the Clouds
As you probably already know, Pinkham can be a crazy place on a mid-summer Saturday morning, and this day was no different, but amazingly, the organizers had a handle on everything, and after a quick briefing hikers of all ages and abilities set off on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, each to experience the mountain in their own way. Some would make the summit and some would not, some would shuttle down, and some would hike, it was all good, and it was all to honor Paul. The large group had broken off into smaller groups as each group made its assault on the mountain. At each trail junction there would be a break and regrouping and off we would go again.
Regrouping at Tuckerman Junction
Things went along at a leisurely pace and there was time for friends to catch up on each other as we went along. With Tuckerman Ravine Trail closed for trailwork above Hermit Lake, Lion Head Trail was at times a Conga Line, but nobody cared, we just kept moving towards the goal in sections. Stop at Lion Head and add a layer in the wind, chow down a sandwich or a snack and move on. Stop at the Tuckerman / Lion Head Junction, regroup, begin the ascent again. Many arrived at the summit at different times, so I did not see a big gathering, or a group photo at the summit marker, there may have been one that I missed, but it did not matter, each had made it in their own time.
On the Lawn Cut-off
I had time to go inside and see friends from the State Park and from the Observatory while others regrouped outside or got food in the cafeteria. The summit never really cleared of the fog we had entered while ascending Lion Head, so views were not what they could have been, but no matter. Folks bundled against the chilly breeze, ate again, and some of us got hot drinks. Before long we started out again, descending by the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. A group of 12-15 of us had decided to descend by Boott Spur, and for most in the group it was a new adventure over new ground on the mountain.
Descending Out of the Clouds on Boott Spur
We descended to the Lion Head Trail junction and regrouped. Some headed down Lion Head, the rest joined us and continued the descent to Tuckerman Junction where there was another brief rest and refueling before we headed out on the Lawn Cut-off to ascend gradually to the Davis Path which would lead us south to Boott Spur. This is some of my favorite terrain on the mountain, and it was fun to hike with folks who had not experienced it before. There was a quick regrouping at Boott Spur, then we began the descent of the Boott Spur Trail.
The Boott Spur Trail
It was along here that I remembered just how long this descent can seem. Descending Lion Head gets you down fast. The ridges that reach down from the summit are different in length. On Lion Head you come to the end of the ridge and it drops almost precipitously down to Hermit Lake. From there it is a monotonous 2 + miles back down to Pinkham, but probably the easiest route out. Boott Spur takes you down a long ridge, adding more than a mile to the hike, and rather than a steep drop, the descent is spread out along the length of the ridge so as to seem like it will go on forever. No matter, the views of the surrounding ridges and the interplay of sunlight and clouds could have entertained me until night had fallen, but there was to be more to the day, and we had to keep moving.
A Look Back Up to Boott Spur
At the end of the hike we got a quick shower at Pinkham and headed to the next regrouping at the Town and Country Inn in Shelburne. I have long been a patron of this place and knew their dining room well, so I was excited to know that I was about to have an excellent meal to top off the day, and excellent it was. The morning's group had gathered again in the function room, something like sixty strong, and all very hungry. The folks at T & C handled it very well and I don't think there was a grumble anywhere to be heard. The choices had been haddock, prime rib and chicken cordon bleu, and I do believe everyone was satisfied with their meal. For dessert there was brownie ala mode, can't beat that!
Tuckerman Ravine from Harvard Rock
It was a great day spent on some of my favorite trails in the White Mountains. I got to see things through others eyes as we hiked along. Hopefully I made some new friends and I will be able to join this group again next year, but above all it was a wonderful tribute and a way to celebrate a fallen hero's life. I can think of no greater honor than for friends to gather and do something of this magnitude each year to remember him by. I know he would be proud!
Full set of pics HERE: