“Study how water flows in a valley stream, smoothly and freely between the rocks. Also learn from holy books and wise people. Everything – even mountains, rivers, plants and trees – should be your teacher.”
Pulling up to the trailhead I couldn’t help thinking that I had been there before, many times. The drive up South Mt. pass was all too familiar, but still comforting knowing the direction I was headed. The turn off of route 9, just opposite of the decrepit deli that never seems to have any customers, the horses that always seem to close to the road and the houses set back in the woods-only to be seen when the trees are bare and the warmth of the summer has left us. All of these things remind me of the different paths, I have taken throughout my life. Curving and winding roads that led me to places that at times didn’t necessarily make sense, but I took them anyway.
I park the jeep and step out onto the moist dirt, sinking ever so slightly with every step that I take. I walk around to the back, open the gate and pull out the Kelty daypack that has kept me company on every hike that I have done for at least the last fifteen years. Examining the pack, I marvel at the fact that as old as it is, the wear and tear is just about non-existent. Green in color with yellow straps, the only damage that is visible is a cracked buckle on the waist belt.
My trusty friend and I have seen rain, sleet, hail, snow and at least a 100 degree range in temperature during its life. I open the top and look inside, making sure that my water bottles are filled, camera and ipod are secured and my cell phone is within reach. Yes, the picture above is my actual pack and trekking poles!
I put the pack down, lace up my boots and adjust my hiking poles, eagerly anticipating another trip to The Nose. Sitting on the back of the Jeep, I take a deep breath and look up the Appalachian Trail at the white blazes and think about the thousands of stories that they could tell if they were able to. Throwing my pack on, I adjust the straps and head up the trail.
Seeing as it is Christmas Eve, I fully expect to see more people heading to the Nose, but they are curiously absent. As I leave the safety of the parking area, I have to admit that I am perfectly happy knowing that I am the only one (from this location) making what I hope will be a quiet hike to the viewpoint.I begin to focus on my surroundings as the jeep slowly disappears behind me and the sound of the small stream that I passed becomes a distant memory.
I am always amazed at the way that the wind sounds as it passes through the trees. Depending on the season, it can range from a soothing warm embrace that permeates every pore of your body to a cold chill that cuts through even the warmest of clothes. Today, the temperature is an incredibly unseasonable 65 degrees so the breeze, even though it is December 24th, is oddly soothing. The light rain that is falling helps contribute to a to a satisfying sense of well being.
Marching steadily uphill I relish in the fact that I still have not seen or heard another person. The solitude has allowed me to focus on the moment at hand. The crunch of leaves, the tic, tic, tic of my trekking poles hitting the rocks on the trail and the sound of every breath that I take helps better clear away the garbage that has accumulated over several weeks of not being able to get out into the woods. I like to think of it as a mental tune up where I can get rid of that negative energy and recharge my batteries.
After 30 minutes of pretty intense reflecting and walking, I reach the intersection of the AT and the Camp Smith trail. Since it is still warm and only drizzling, I am in no hurry to reach the top and decide to take a quick break before I tackle the final mile to the viewpoint. The point where the two trails meet is a favorite path to the top of many hikers so I fully expect to see others out enjoying the day.
To my further delight, I don’t see anyone as I prepare myself for the task ahead. Pushing on, I selfishly hope that no one else is (at the very least) sitting at my favorite spot. If you have ever seen pictures that I have taken on the Nose, you will have a pretty good idea of where that is!!
The rain and wind pick up as I round the final curve to the viewpoint and I am amazed that I can not see a single person!! This is unheard of! I quickly head to my “spot” and take off my pack, placing my poles next to my trusted friend and sit down, enjoying the solitude that has been given to me on this beautiful day.
It truly does not get any better than this…
Think about it. Time passes way to quickly and life is certainly shorter than we all think. What do you do to “recharge” your batteries? Do you get a chance to purge the negativity from your life, if only occasionally? Regardless of how you choose to do it, make sure that you find something that you can call yours, if only for a little awhile.