In the links section of my blog is a link to Adirondack Artist Lynn Benevento's website. I posted it after a trip to her gallery before last Christmas. I was in search of meaningful gifts for particular people on my shopping list and had no trouble finding beautiful note cards and prints for family members and special friends. Checking people off of the "still need to get for" list was great but a more important thing happened that day. I connected with an inspiring, aspiring 46er. Even despite sticking my foot in my mouth big time. It was like this....Lynn has a poster board of her son's solo Appalachian Trail winter through hike. We began talking about hiking. I asked her if she was nervous knowing that he was doing that hike in the winter and all by himself. She said that he and her other son had grown up hiking with her and her husband. Lynn told of a few unplanned overnights they spent in the woods when her kids were little. She made mention of a lot of the high peaks they had hiked. I was impressed at the details she could recall as she told of her favorite and not so favorite hikes. ....Here is where I inserted my foot.... She told me that she and her husband had climbed 41 of the 46 peaks. I then asked her if "they" planned to finish. She gently informed (read reminded) me that he had passed away only two months ago and she went on to explain that they had never discussed whether she should finish them without him. I could tell she was very conflicted as any of us would be if we lost our hiking partner before the grand finale. I couldn't really form words at this point in the conversation and probably muttered some type of apology/condolence. I left the store firmly believing that she NEEDED to finish hiking those peaks and become a 46er. What a wonderful way to honor her husband and the many beautiful days in the high peaks they had shared with each other. Lynn checked in on my blog now and then and began commenting. After my Dial and Nippletop hike, Lynn commented saying that she had hiked in the Great Range on that same hot day as a test hike. Oooh...a test hike? Yes, she had decided to find out if she was in good enough shape to bag Allen, the Sewards and finally Santanoni. Soon, Lynn emailed me to say that a friend of hers was going to help her finish. I expressed my excitement and she remained cautious, stating that Allen is a tough one and She'd have to somehow get through the difficulty of Seward. Soon I had email photos filling my inbox of Lynn on the summit of the first four hikes she needed. I absolutely loved the Allen summit picture she sent me.
"Bringing" her husband along in the form of that photo she is holding is genius. I know for sure his spirit was at the top of each and every one of those remaining peaks waiting for her. The photo is a tangible reminder that he was there.
And guess what....after careful consideration...she is allowing my father and I to finish with her on Santanoni. Aside from becoming 46ers ourselves someday, this is going to be quite monumental. Being with someone as they become a 46er is one thing but in this case it is a generous gift that she is sharing with us. At first Lynn thought she might not want a lot of pomp and circumstance surrounding her poignant finish. But in the spirit of "the more the merrier" that she thought her husband would support, we are IN....hopefully the weather will cooperate. We've cancelled once and I am waiting for word if tomorrow is the day. I can't wait to share the day on Santanoni with you all. This is what makes up the good stuff in life.