Dad, daughter couldn’t beat sun
Last week, Kankakee resident Krista Brousse and her father only needed two more hours of daylight to avoid a fiasco.
Once Brousse, 51, realized they could not reach the top of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington before sundown, she went for help. Her 77-year-old father, Carl Bergeson, a former local resident who now lives in Florida, was struggling.
But there’s one thing she wants everyone to know: Her father ultimately reached the peak.
Brousse said her father is an active person, walking 7 miles per day and taking mission trips to places such as Zambia.
They planned to go up the mountain after attending her cousin’s wedding in the Northeast. But Brousse said she had second thoughts, not wanting her father to go through the strain of a mountain hike. But he was set on going.
Forty years ago, the father and daughter took the same trip up the 6,288-foot mountain. Back then, the 11-year-old Brousse held back her father’s pace. This time, Brousse was the leader.
Last Tuesday, they were about a half mile away from the top when fatigue started to set in for Bergeson. She said they had everything they needed — food, water, warm coats — but no flashlight.
They learned the average trip up New Hampshire’s highest mountain took four hours, so they made time for eight.
“Near the end, we were climbing huge boulders. There was no grass. He was tired, and the sun was going down,” Brousse said in a phone interview. “I was worried he wouldn’t be able to see in the dark. I told him I would go to the top, get a light and come back down for him. I thought that was the safest thing.”
At the top, there is a visitors center and a restaurant, linked by a road on the mountain’s other side. But the facilities close at 6 p.m., which Brousse and her father did not know.
So, she ended up calling rangers, who responded but “reamed us out big time” for not having flashlights.
“By all accounts, this happens all the time,” Brousse said. “They realized we were prepared, except for a flashlight. We were way more prepared than most people. No one’s life was in danger. We had to fill out paperwork and do interviews.”
When the rangers arrived, she said, her father was 25 yards from the top. He was accompanied to the peak, so he could accomplish his goal.
The resulting publicity, she said, made it seem as if their trip was a “huge failure.”
“My dad got to climb over the top of the mountain, even if he had two guys holding flashlights,” Brousse said. “For me, this was a trip for my dad.”
Brousse, married to Jeff Brousse, has lived in Kankakee for three decades.