2020 Vision Quest

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2020 Vision Quest is a non-profit organization founded by Randy Pierce of Nashua, New Hampshire, in the United States.[1] Pierce is a totally blind man who planned to earn certification from the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) for climbing all 48 of the state's mountains over 4000 feet tall by the year 2020.[2] Pierce completed his goal in August 2013, and was led on the trail by his guide dog Quinn, a yellow Labrador retriever, also called "The Mighty Quinn" by Pierce in appreciation of the dog's remarkable zest for mountaineering.[2]

Pierce's goals for 2020 Vision Quest are:

  • to inspire others to overcome their challenges,
  • to educate and generate awareness of blindness as a social issue, and
  • to raise funds to support two charities that serve the visually impaired.[3]

These charities are the New Hampshire Association for the Blind, which provides vision rehabilitation services, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an organization that trains guide dogs and matches them with owners at no charge.[1] Pierce is also very active doing presentations in companies and especially in schools, where he has reached thousands of young people with his message of being inspired by your abilities rather than limited by your disabilities.[3][4]

2020 Vision Quest was formed in the spring of 2010, and performs all of its fundraising through the New Hampshire Association for the Blind. Contributions to NHAB - 2020 Vision Quest are tax-deductible for donors, given that the NHAB is organized as a 501(c)(3) public charity.[3]

About Randy Pierce[edit]

Randy Pierce was born in Nashua, New Hampshire, in 1966, and graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 1988 with a degree in electrical engineering. A year after graduation he had lost total vision in his right eye, and retained just a small area of tunnel vision in his left eye. Pierce's vision would continue to degrade until he slipped into total blindness in the year 2000.[5] In 2003, the disease that had destroyed his visual functions started affecting his cerebellum, causing him to suffer migraines and severe vertigo, and making him wheelchair bound.[5] Pierce undertook a series of experimental medical treatments to remap his brain functions, which returned some degree of balance, and he was able to begin walking on crutches, then with a walking stick, and eventually unaided.[5]

Climbing mountains[edit]

Pierce and his wife Tracy Goyette share a love for the outdoors, and in 2009 attempted to do a mountain hike together with Quinn. The three were able to reach the summit of Pack Monadnock, a peak of 2,290 feet (700 m) on the border of Peterborough and Temple, New Hampshire. Shortly after that, they climbed Mount Osceola, one of New Hampshire's 4,000+ foot peaks, and Randy conceived of the idea of climbing "The 48".

In the spring of 2010, Pierce and a number of people from his wide circle of friends began work on 2020 Vision Quest. He and Quinn prepared for the challenge with a grueling six-day trek through the Pemigewasset Wilderness with a UNH hiking team. Randy and Team 2020 then held a practice climb on the Welch-Dickey loop, which summits Mounts Welch and Dickey, on May 1, where he proposed marriage to Tracy. They were married October 10, 2010.

The first official 2020 Vision Quest hike took place on July 4 and 5. Pierce, Quinn and his hiking team reached the summit of Mount Monroe—at 5,372 feet (1,637 m) the fourth highest of the 48—around 5 pm on July 4. The team stayed at the AMC hut at the Lakes of the Clouds, and on the morning of July 5 began their ascent of Mount Washington, the highest peak in the northeastern United States at 6,288 feet (1,917 m). They reached the summit shortly after 11 am. Due to the reduced pace of their climb, the team was unable to descend the mountain safely during daylight hours; they rode down the using cars and the Cog Railway. This failed to meet AMC's requirement that the hiker ascend and descend the mountain on the same trip; for that reason, Team 2020 planned another climb of Mounts Washington, Monroe and Eisenhower in the future.

Three weeks later, on the weekend of July 24–25, Randy and Team 2020 successfully climbed and descended Mount Hale in Grafton County, New Hampshire.

As of August 24, 2013, Randy and Quinn had reached all of the 48 targeted peaks as part of the 2020 Vision Quest challenge. These are:[6]

  1. 1 - Mt. Hale - July 25, 2010
  2. 2 - Mt. Tom - August 14–15, 2010
  3. 3 - Mt. Field - August 14–15, 2010
  4. 4 - Mt. Liberty - September 11, 2010
  5. 5 - Mt. Pierce - October 2, 2010
  6. 6 - Owl's Head - May 13–14, 2011
  7. 7 - Galehead - May 23–27, 2011
  8. 8 - Garfield - May 23–27, 2011
  9. 9 - Lafayette - May 23–27, 2011
  10. 10 - Whiteface - June 18–19, 2011
  11. 11 - Passaconaway - June 18–19, 2011
  12. 12 - Mt. Adams - July 2–4, 2011
  13. 13 - Mt. Madison - July 2–4, 2011
  14. 14 - Mt. Waumbek - July 23, 2011
  15. 15 - North Hancock - August 13, 2011
  16. 16 - South Hancock - August 13, 2011
  17. 17 - North Kinsman - August 23, 2011
  18. 18 - South Kinsman - August 23, 2011
  19. 19 - Wildcat A - September 4, 2011
  20. 20 - Wildcat D - September 4, 2011
  21. 21 - Mt. Moosilauke - September 11, 2011
  22. 22 - Mt. Tecumseh - October 7, 2011
  23. 23 - Mt. Jackson - May 19, 2012
  24. 24 - Mt. Washington - July 7–8, 2012
  25. 25 - Mt. Monroe - July 7–8, 2012
  26. 26 - Mt. Eisenhower - July 7–8, 2012
  27. 27 - North Twin - July 21, 2012
  28. 28 - South Twin - July 21, 2012
  29. 29 - Zealand - August 4–5, 2012
  30. 30 - West Bond - August 4–5, 2012
  31. 31 - Bond - August 4–5, 2012
  32. 32 - Bondcliff - August 4–5, 2012
  33. 33 - Mt. Osceola - August 25, 2012
  34. 34 - East Osceola - August 25, 2012
  35. 35 - Mt. Willey - September 1, 2012
  36. 36 - Mt. Cabot - September 8, 2012
  37. 37 - Cannon Mt. - May 18, 2013
  38. 38 - Lincoln Mt. - May 19, 2013
  39. 39, 40 - North and South Tripyramid - June 29, 2013
  40. 41-43 - Moriah, Middle Carter, South Carter - July 13–14, 2013
  41. 44 - Mt. Jefferson - July 21, 2013
  42. 45 - Mt. Isolation - July 26, 2013
  43. 46 - Carter Dome - August 2, 2013
  44. 47 - Mt. Carrigain - August 10, 2013
  45. 48 - Mt. Flume - August 24, 2013

Remarkably, Randy and Quinn also summited all of the NH 48 during the three months of the winter of 2012, reaching their goal on March 10.[6] Winter hikes are faster for Randy because the ground is less hazardous, and easier to traverse. Nonetheless, it was a grueling trek for Randy and his hiking teammate Justin Fuller. Filmmaker Dina Sutin also accompanied them on many of the hikes, and produced a film of the adventure entitled Four More Feet. Randy and Quinn were the first team of blind man and guide dog to complete the NH 48, and Quinn was the first guide dog to accomplish the Winter 48.

Just months after the completion of the summer 48 in August 2013, Quinn developed health problems, and died on January 20, 2014.[7]

Randy's next quest is to run the Boston Marathon in 2015.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 2020 Vision Quest Website
  2. ^ a b 2020 Vision Quest blog entry, 6/23/2010
  3. ^ a b c "Donations page". 2020 Vision Quest.org. 
  4. ^ "For Educators page". 2020 Vision Quest.org. 
  5. ^ a b c Dog helps blind man scale the heights, Article in Nashua (NH) Telegraph, 7/4/2010
  6. ^ a b "Hiking the 48". 2020 Vision Quest.org. 
  7. ^ "On The Path (blog): In Honor of the MIghty Quinn". 2020 Vision Quest. January 24, 2014.