"Men hang out their sign indicative of their respective trades: Shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe, jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth. But up in the mountains of New Hampshire, God almighty has hung out a sign to show that there, he makes men."
-Daniel Webster, famed American statesman and scholar
"If I jump in the cold water I won't get Hepatitis B." Stripping down to boxers and sox, for a second I believed him. Shivering on a ledge covered by a sheet of ice and fresh dusting of snow, something didn’t feel right. The flat mid-November light was turning to dusk and water gushed through a tight notch thirty feet below.
“You just have to jump in the middle of that dark green spot, I've done it before.” Alarm bells were ringing. He was confident, then he was gone—and in that moment of weightlessness looked truly alive.
I walked on numb feet to the edge. Eyes gauge the drop, epinephrine drips, and the body recoils. Half expecting a body floating faced down and pinned against an icicle stalactite, it was warming to see nothing but cold moving water. Tracing the slot canyon thirty feet downstream the lean runner had muscled himself to the top a slippery rock.
Shivering and grinning a country mile wide: “It’s not that bad,” he shouted back upstream.
My legs felt disconnected from my body—not because we’d just gone on a four hour mountain run and not because we were just at the microbrewery on an empty stomach—because it’s almost December, another year is drawing to a close, and all my senses are still awake, firing, and craving adventure.
Just as I move towards the ledge someone comes running down the hillside from the road and pops out through the trees. “Uncle Ned?” the jumper shouts from downstream.
“What are you guys doing here?” Uncle Ned shouts back.
“Cliff jumping.” As if it makes sense, nearly December with snow on the ground.
Turns out Uncle Ned had just finished the same mountain loop, saw folks parked in the gravel pull-out, so stopped to have a look.
Ryan, Amber, Danny, Nacho, and the lean runner on the rock downstream are home grown New Hampshirites. Nacho says he’s a Spaniard but I don’t believe him. For certain, these long lost friends and nationally ranked pro endurance athletes have taught me just as much about life as the books in school. A person can make any place awesome with the right company.
On average grades and a good story I was accepted to Franklin Pierce University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program in Manchester, New Hampshire. A few weeks back was almost removed because average grades and a good story weren't good enough, and yesterday learned that I had learned enough to join them for term II. With an incredible amount of respect and admiration for the FPU faculty, I am blown away by the amount of information they have been able to cram into my hyperactive brain in just twelve short weeks.
Lesson#1 from PT school in New Hampshire: You can take my life, but you can’t take my freedom.
Live free or die.