As I climbed higher, I saw why, and scrambled to the summit—we had climbed above the clouds, and were now standing in bright sunshine on an island of rock surrounded by a fluffy white carpet stretching across the sky in every direction. It remains to this day perhaps the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.
Nearly every day, I take my dog down to the trails around Stony Pond for an hour or so, where I run or ski, depending on the weather. Much of the time we’re left to the geese, ducks and beavers, though when the weather turns sunny and warm, people regularly camp there, enjoying the peace and beauty of nature by building large fires, blaring radios and drinking lots of beer—often leaving the bottles and cans littered behind them the next morning, the remains of the fires still smoldering. A family goes fishing, and crowds around the battery-powered TV they’ve brought, watching sitcoms. A young woman on horseback talks on her cell phone. Getting away from just some of it all, apparently.
During deer season, hunters park their campers here, choosing to hunt by walking the well-worn foot paths around the pond, waiting for the deer to give themselves up, rather than traveling into the woods where the deer live, coming out at night by the hundreds to graze in the fields. It’s just easier, I guess, near the comfort of the camper.
Leaving the comfort of the noise, the truck cabins, the telecommunications and the sunny weather has its rewards. One rainy spring morning, for instance, my dog found a fawn hiding just around a tree trunk (we apparently surprised the doe)—just about 18” long. When I investigated, the fawn bellowed (damn, those things have lungs!) and wobbled to its feet—it could just barely stand—and bellowed again. It was the cutest little creature—head far too large for its body, legs far too skinny—the usual “I’m small now but I’ll soon grow big” syndrome we recognize in puppies of large breeds. I quickly led my dog away, leaving the youngster to the unseen doe, but those few precious moments remain a happy memory.
One Saturday, desperately needing to get away and clear my head, I decided to ignore the rainy weather and climb Algonquin Peak. Of course, climbing in a drizzle means walking in a dense, gray fog, and today was no exception. I saw none of the spectacular views—I could barely see twenty feet ahead, just following the trail (and my dog) as trees continually emerged from the mist. This became a real problem when I reached the tree line, nervously trusting my dog’s nose to find the trail, now just rock, trees gone, using the occasional cairns as confirmation rather than guides as intended. I started to worry about finding the trail down again, when the fog started to clear a bit. As I climbed higher, I saw why, and scrambled to the summit—we had climbed above the clouds, and were now standing in bright sunshine on an island of rock surrounded by a fluffy white carpet stretching across the sky in every direction. It remains to this day perhaps the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.
Not that I’m recommending climbing the High Peaks alone in the rain—on another occasion, an excursion up Mt. Colden, I got turned around in the fog and wandered about for a few scary hours before finding the proper trail again. I forced myself to stop and change into fresh, dry polypropylene underwear and wool clothing. Freshly dressed, warm and dry, I started shivering nonstop—I had been in the initial phase of hypothermia, the first sign of which is poor judgment. (Ironically, I had stopped to change only to ensure that doing so would be a habit in case I ever did get hypothermia. “Ah,” I noted to myself, “THAT’S why I have that ‘make it a habit’ rule.”) I hurried down the mountain to a lean-to, built a fire, laid out my thermal pad and sleeping bag, and prepared a warm dinner. Crisis averted, but lesson learned—almost the very hard way.
Back home, away from the spectacular views and the dangers of the mountains, rain can certainly be a nuisance, turning the clay soil into a soggy, muddy mess for days at a time, making dry feet impossible unless I keep a pair of socks and shoes in the car. In the spring, I don’t even try for clean clothes, as a single splash will muddy my pants. But at the same time, relaxing in a lawn chair, watching the birds dart through the tree branches, taking in the fresh scent, listening to the sound of rain on my shed’s aluminum roof, catching up on some reading–this is not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
Not counting when my wet, muddy dog rushes into my lap.
- The Adirondack High Peaks above the tree line (viewed from Mt. Marcy summit)
- Are you interested in hearing more about Wilderness Hikes as projects evolve in the future? Let me know here, so I have a list of those interested ready to go, by clicking here (and page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
Join the “Wilderness Hike” list.
If you’d like to hear about my “Getting Unstuck” book as it gets closer to release, let me know by clicking here (and you’re welcome to do *both,* of course–page all the way down to click “Sign Up” at the bottom):
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October 2012 is a series of daily posts about “A Wilderness Hike,” taking readers through the healing of wilderness experience and glimpses of my work at Kwan Yin Healing and of my book, “Getting Unstuck.”
You can read the series from the start via the links here:
Oct. 1: A Wilderness Hike
Oct. 2: The Sixth Hour
Oct. 3: Snowy Mountain
Oct. 4: Letting Go of Baggage–the Wilderness Way
Oct. 5: “Bear” the Thought
Oct. 6: Mountain. Buddha. Impermanence.
Oct. 7: The Rewards of Rain
Oct. 8: Finding the Keys
Oct. 9: “I’d love to, but times are bad.”
Oct. 10: Attracting the Law of Attraction
Oct. 11: We are not our thoughts
Oct. 12: Honesty, Forgiveness, Healing
Oct. 13: Getting Unstuck: Feeling Overwhelmed
Oct. 14: Money is remarkably easy to come by, if that’s all you want.
Oct. 15: To be Time Rich, Learn to Be
Oct. 16: Changing Thoughts for Changing Work
Oct. 17: Finding and Sharing your Gifts
Oct. 18: Do you want to be the boss? Be sure you want to run the show.
Oct. 19: Finding jobs within jobs
Oct. 20: Bright Mountain Dream
Oct. 21: Escape the Wilderness of Addictions
Oct. 22: The Importance of Spiritual Direction
Oct. 23: In Search of Enlightenment
Oct. 24: Relationship Thoughts from the Wilderness
Oct. 25: We learn in realtionships
Oct. 26: Chrysalis
Oct. 27: Self-Healing, part 1
Oct. 28: Self-Healing, part 2: Time for a new perspective
Oct. 29: Dix Mountain
Oct. 30: The Mist-Filled Path
Oct. 31: From Wilderness to Wondrousness