Wilderness Heals

Thank you for visiting the Wilderness Heals blog. Wilderness Heals is an all-women, three-day annual pledge hike that benefits the Elizabeth Stone House (ESH), a Boston-based emergency shelter, transitional housing program, and therapeutic community that provides services to women and children who are escaping violence and overcoming trauma. By encouraging hikers to set challenging physical, emotional, and financial goals, Wilderness Heals mirrors the experiences of hundreds of women who have sought help from the Stone House. Committing to hike is a way to grow personally while simultaneously standing in solidarity with women of the Stone House and women everywhere who are working to overcome the effects of violence in their lives.
Wilderness Heals 2011 will take place July 15-17, 2011. Registration materials may be downloaded here.
Go here to view the 2011 routes, and visit our Who's Who page to meet this year's team leaders and Recruitment Committee members.
Want to learn more? Visit our list of Frequently Asked Questions.
Still have questions? Contact Erika Whyte, Wilderness Heals event coordinator, at 781-726-0551 or ewhyte@elizabethstone.org.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cannonballs on a Roll

I met Susan Genatossio and Jenn Guiry during my first Wilderness Heals training hike on Cannon Mountain. I had no way of knowing it then, but the bonds we formed on the icy Kinsman Ridge Trail two years ago would carry us over many more summits. Last weekend, the three Cannonballs--our group nickname--gathered for a reunion camping and hiking trip over the 4,328-foot Mount Flume and the 4,459-foot Mount Liberty. Above: Vic, Jenn, and Susan smile at the top of Mount Flume.

Rather than hiking up the steep Flume Slide Trail, we opted to spot a car and take the more moderate Osseo Trail to the top of Mount Flume. From there, we hiked across the Franconia Ridge to the summit of Mount Liberty, and down the Liberty Spring Trail. The total mileage for the day was 10.7 miles. Above: Susan and Jenn on the Osseo Trail.

It was not an easy hike. Jenn, who had not hiked much in the past year, began to struggle several miles into our ascent. A short break, some electrolytes, and reorganizing her pack made a world of difference, and we made it to the summit of Mount Flume in book time. Above: Jenn and Vic on the Osseo Trail.

A little more than halfway up the Osseo Trail, we came to a series of steep stairs that led up the mountain. Note: climbing the steps at the Porter Square T-stop is excellent training for this type of hike. Above: Susan makes her way up the stairs.

As Jenn battled feelings of self-doubt and silently conversed with her trail gods, Susan was also deep in thought. Her trek to the summit of Mount Flume was for reasons far more personal than simply checking another 4,000-footer from her list. Above: The summit of Mount Flume is only a short climb away.

After a quick lunch at the top of Mount Flume, Susan showed us a picture of a young man. "Is that your son?" I asked. "No," she replied. "This is Ben, and his spirit lives at the top of this mountain." Above: A cloud looms over Mount Flume.

Ben was a friend of Susan's youngest son, and when he was fifteen, Ben led a group of Boy Scouts to the top of Mount Flume. The hike was a part of a series of requirements that Boy Scouts must fulfill in order to become an Eagle Scout--the highest advancement rank in Scouting. Above: The valley is seen from the summit of Mount Flume.

A few days after he returned from the hike, Ben died unexpectedly in his home. His death devastated his Scout mates, and his parents chose to have Ben's ashes scattered at the summit of Mount Flume, the last mountain he climbed before he died. Above: Mount Liberty is seen from the top of Mount Flume.

As we made our way to the summit of Mount Liberty, Susan told us more about Ben. During his memorial service, she said, another Scout member read a poem he'd written that was modeled after Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird." Eerily enough, all three of us had listened to the song during our drive to New Hampshire the previous day. Above: Jenn and Vic at the top of Mount Liberty.

The descent from Mount Liberty was long, steep, and extremely hard on the knees. Jenn, with her long legs, bounded down the mountain with ease while Susan and I doggedly trailed behind. We made it back to the campsite by five o'clock, allowing Jenn and me time to take a quick swim in the Pemi River before dinner. It was a glorious day, and my "hiker high" sustained me during the evening's long drive back to Boston.

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