Salty's 09/11/2011 Trip Reports


Distance: 0.7 miles

Low Elevation: 3992 feet
High Elevation: 4080 feet
Elevation Gain: 228 feet
Elevation Loss: 228 feet

Start Location: Cannon Tram
Finish Location: Cannon Tram
Route: Rim Trail east, Kinsman Ridge Trail, Rim Trail to tram, Rim Trail to tower, Rim Trail to tram

Weather: Partly sunny, breezy, cold
Companions: Necia Saltmarsh


I normally wouldn't write a TR for a short hike like this, but being the 10th anniversary of 9/11, it seemed appropriate. I was laid down with a cold, so I decided my wife could now join in the Flags on the 48 memorial by riding the tram up Cannon, where my good friend Brian was stationed. As Neesh readied herself, I watched the services in NY, DC and PA on TV. As each moment of silence came marking a plane crash or a building falling, my eyes welled up at the horrible memories of that day. Ten years of time couldn't take any of that away.

We packed up and the 7 minute tram ride was a treat, and I said to Neesh, “why don't they put trams on all the peaks?!” We took the Kinsman Ridge Trail around, sucking up the views despite an overcast covering the highest peaks, and Neesh said “I get it now. I remember why I liked to hike.” Not able to anymore, this filled my heart immensely. We spotted the immense flag hanging off the tower and now a sense of awe struck me.

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We ran into Brian and Jim taking a break from the cold wind on the tower, and made our way up. I love seeing Neesh on the trails, no matter how short, and we climbed the tower, finding a ton of other friends already there. Lots of hellos, lots of introductions, and I started clicking away at the flags I could see on the other peaks. And then we heard it, then saw it. A Blackhawk was heading over to North Kinsman, and circled around a couple of times, coming in real close once. Hot damn, we were getting a fly-by. We then saw it turn our way, and everyone on the tower waited in anticipation.

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Again, the helo circled twice, with everyone cheering and giving thumbs up to the crew.

One guy was taking pictures, and gave us a wave and thumbs up on the way out. Again, my eyes welled up that these guys would give us that gesture, never mind a fly-by. As we found out later, this was the NHNG air ambulance that served in Iraq. Wow. A number of other peaks were treated to this sight, and it was the highlight of the day for many, many people.

Neesh was getting cold, so we took the Rim Trail down to the tram station, and found a bar. Well, better keep her company.

We went out on the deck and took in some more views. FOT48 is always a mix of emotions. Sadness and happiness, the latter that the terrorists won't change the American spirit, and it's always a gathering of old and new friends to remember those fallen. So we made the most of the day, and I headed back up to the tower to chat some more and gather my things. The flags came down, and it was the end of another Flags. I said my goodbyes to many good folks, and headed back to collect Neesh. We couldn't contribute today, but Neesh was so awestruck at this awesome display going on all over the Whites, and it was great to share that with her.

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