What you call bareness and poverty is to me simplicity. God could not be unkind to me if he should try. I love the winter, with its imprisonment and its cold, for it compels the prisoner to try new fields and resources. I love to have the river closed up for a season and a pause put to my boating, to be obliged to get my boat in. I shall launch it again in the spring with so much more pleasure. This is an advantage in point of abstinence and moderation compared with the seaside boating, where the boat ever lies on the shore. I love best to have each thing in its season only, and enjoy doing without it at all other times. It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantage at all. I find it invariably true, the poorer I am, the richer I am. What you consider my disadvantage, I consider my advantage. While you are pleased to get knowledge and culture in many ways, I am delighted to think that I am getting rid of them. I have never got over my surprise that I should have been born into the most estimable place in all the world, and in the very nick of time, too. Thoreau
Top photo: Flying out. Above: WHOOOOOOOOOOOSH!!!!!!!!
It was another insanely mild day on the Mountain. The high was 52 degrees. The low was 36 degrees. It was 46 degrees and cloudy at observation. It looks like today will be a bit of a rainy day up top.
I spent yesterday reading down at Alum Cave. It was a great day for falcon watching. I think they must be nesting, as they seem more territorial than usual. In addition to their calls, I was able to hear the impressive WHOOOOSH of their deceleration into their perches above the Cave. They are almost too fast to believe. I took my time at the cave, reading in the sun for 3 hours.
I set a personal record for 'soaking it in' on the way back up, taking an hour and 45 minutes and stopping all over the place to take pictures and soak in the sun. I can't believe this is my last night solo on the mountain! I'm having ebbing, flowing feelings about my time here. There is already a deeply rooted nostalgia about this amazing place competing with a preternatural joy about what's around the next bend in the trail. Life!
PS: I am trying to get to New Hampshire for my new job in late March and am looking to buy a used vehicle. I am looking for anything at/under ~$1,200 that runs. A pickup, small car with good gas efficiency or motorcycle would be ideal. If any of you kind readers have any suggestions, I'd really appreciate it! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any leads!
My very scientific sign of the first day of Spring - I get to hike barefoot.
Another great sunset.
As I preferred some things to others, and especially valued my freedom, as I could fare hard and yet succeed well, I did not wish to spend my time in earning rich carpets or other fine furniture, or delicate cookery, or a house in the Grecian or the Gothic style just yet. Thoreau
It was another gorgeous day up top. The high was 43 degrees. The low was 34 degrees. It was 37 degrees and clear at observation. It was rather cloudy yesterday morning, then cleared in the afternoon. I spent the afternoon reading poetry at Alum Cave. Pure bliss.
On another note, Happy Springer day to two of my best buddies, First Man (AT '10) and Aaron (AT '12). Looking forward to all the adventures that lie ahead with you two! I hope you have a great first day (and 5-sh months) on the trail, AK! ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!!
Top photo: A great day to work on my tan! Above: Morning coffee with the birds.
We had a beautiful Sunday to round out a stunning weekend. The high was 43 degrees and it was clear all day. The low was 30 degrees and it was 36 and cloudy at observation this morning. It is socked in on top right now, but looks like it'll clear again this afternoon.
I am thrilled by the prospect of these final 4 days of solitude before crew trickles back up top to start pre-season preparations. It will be a fitting way to end the season. Plenty of time for reflection, hiking all around and about, reading poetry, listening to my beloved oldies, writing letters to friends, etc. in the abundant sunshine of Mt. LeConte. As my friend JimmyJam K. likes to say, 'making memories!' It is inconceivable to me that the time has gone by this quickly and my departure is imminent. I think that is an indication that I have finally fallen into the lifestyle that is most amenable to my nature. I am so blessed.
Top photo: Slamma examining iced over moss. Above: Alum Cave in the sunshine. There were some terrifying widowmakers!
I sip my coffee. I look at the mountain, which is still doing its tricks, as you look at a still-beautiful face belonging to a person who was once your lover in another country years ago: with fond nostalgia, and recognition, but no real feeling save a secret astonishment that you are now strangers. Thanks. For the memories. It is ironic that the one thing that all religions recognize as separating us from our creator - our very self-consciousness - is also the one thing that divides us from our fellow creatures. It was a bitter birthday present from evolution, cutting us off at both ends. Annie Dillard
Top photo: Cloud sentry duty. Above: Bushwhacking!
It was another beautiful day on the mountain. The high was 30 degrees, but with the abundant sunshine it felt much cozier. The low was 12 degrees. It was 28 and clear at observation. It looks like it will be another gorgeous, clear day up top. Be on the lookout for ice on the trails.
The first in time and the first in importance of the influences upon the mind is that of nature. Every day, the sun; and, after sunset, night and her stars. Ever the winds blow; ever the grass grows. Every day, men and women, conversing, beholding and beholden. The scholar is he of all men whom this spectacle most engages. He must settle its value in his mind. What is nature to him? There is never a beginning, there is never an end, to the inexplicable continuity of this web of God, but always circular power returning into itself. Therein it resembles his own spirit, whose beginning, whose ending, he never can find, — so entire, so boundless. Emerson
It was a beautiful day yesterday up top. We had some clouds in the morning, then it cleared in the afternoon. The high was 45 degrees. It got plenty cold over night, with a low of 11 degrees. It looks like it'll be a beautiful, cold weekend up top. I hiked up Alum last night and there was plenty of ice, so be prepared.
In youth, before I lose any of my senses, I can remember that I was all alive, and inhabited my body with inexpressible satisfaction; both its weariness and its refreshment were sweet to me. Thoreau
Top photo: Just your typical face-melting, mind-blowing, ego-crushing beauty. Above: The magic hour!
It was a ridiculously nice day yesterday. The high was 51 degrees. The low was 36 degrees. It was 44 and clear at observation. It looks like we'll have another beautiful, blustery day.
On the way back to camp from sunset at Cliff Tops, I noticed something unusual. As I neared one of the windy, gap sections with a lot of blowdowns, you could actually see the Earth breathing. The wind moved dead trees and root systems gently up and down with a slow tenderness. You could stand on these systems and slowly move with the earth's pulsing. This place never fails to show me something new, long as I keep my eyes open.
Mt. LeConte Swim Team!
There just isn't any kind of night's sleep in the world that can compare with the night's sleep you get in the desert winter night, providing you're good and warm in a duck-down bag. The silence is so intense that you can hear your own blood roar in your ears but louder than that by far is the mysterious roar which I always identify with the roaring of the diamond of wisdom, the mysterious roar of silence itself, which is a great Shhhhh reminding you of something you've seemed to have forgotten in the stress of your days since birth. I wished I could explain it to those I loved, to my mother, to Japhy, but there just weren't any words to describe the nothingness and purity of it. "Is there a certain and definite teaching to be given to all living creatures?" was the question probably asked to the beetlebrowed snowy Dipankara, and his answer was the roaring silence of the diamond. Kerouac
Top photo, above & below: Dynamic sunset.
It was a blustery day up top. The wind gusts must have been in the 50's. The high was 39 degrees. The low was 30 degrees. It was 35 degrees and clearing at observation. The mountain received .38" of rain yesterday. There is still some patchy snow on the ground and it looks like the trails are pretty icy.
With the little birdies chirping and the grass smelling the smell of fresh spring rain and the pure unbroken intensity of sunset yesterday still burnt in my mind as if I had woken up in the middle of an all too pleasant to be real dream ... It is bittersweet, but mostly sweet to think I only have a week left up here. Winter has passed by like a ship in the night and I hope to meet her again one day.
I have loved the feel of green grass under my feet, and the sound of the running stream by my side, and the face of the fields has often comforted me more than the faces of men. John Burroughs
It was a beautiful, clear day up top yesterday. The high was 39 degrees. It felt much warmer; I even got a little sunburnt with all the reflection from the snow! The overnight low was 30 degrees. It was 30 degrees and clear at observation. It sounds like we'll have another great day today. It looks like the snow will be on it's way out, but remain vigilant; there will be plenty of ice on the trails.
I followed Bobcat & Bobkitten tracks the majority of the way along the Boulevard trail. This is a new development and I'm reassured to discover that the little fella has some family looking after his/herself. After the natural high of tracking, I was gliding up the climbs; I felt no shortness of breath or lactic acid as my uplifted spirit overshadowed my physical limits. This was short-lived, as I arrived at the AT/Boulevard junction to find pillows, empty whiskey bottles, a hatchet, Chef Boyardee and many bags of trash. It is so disheartening to think that I am closer in relation to the creatures who leave this disgrace than the gentle and wise Bobcats.
Top photo: The final climb along the Boulevard trail near the AT. Above: Sun peeking around a rock face on the Boulevard.
Nature is mythical and mystical always, and spends her whole genius on the least work. Thoreau
It was a beautiful day up top yesterday. The high was 41 degrees, but with 2 inches of fresh snow, it felt much warmer. The visibility was very good, as well. The low was 23 degrees. It was 23 degrees and cloudy at observation. It looks like it'll clear up this afternoon and be another gorgeous day.
While watching sunrise at Apollo Overlook this morning, I felt as if I was watching gladiators do battle. The sun was relegated to the undercard, as the clouds were the main attraction. They were being dragged towards Myrtle point by some mysterious force, yet befitting their cloudy grace they resisted with all their might. However, once they passed Mt. Pisgah on the horizon, they would accept their fate, fade up and over the point and come out of the world in the same dignified manner that they entered into it. I have much to learn from the clouds.
Top photo & above: Gentle, cloudy sunrise.
"Free is the bird in the air, And the fish where the river flows; Free is the deer in the wood, And the gipsy wherever he goes. Hurrah! And the gipsy wherever he goes." There is a dash of the gipsy in every one of us who is worth his salt. Horace Kephart
Top photo: Sky while hiking down Alum on Saturday. Above: Thomas Jefferson.
It was a clear, snowy day yesterday. The high was 33 degrees. For the majority of the morning, it sleeted and did not seem like it wanted to snow. Around noon, the temperature dropped and stayed low enough to keep snowing. The mountain received .49" of rain and 2 inches of snow. The low was 17 degrees. It looks like it'll be a beautiful, clear day up top.
Yesterday morning felt like one of those days where the mountain was trying to talk with me. I hiked down Rainbow Falls into the mist and didn't see another hiker until the Falls. It is an egocentric myth, but it felt like I was the only one on the mountain. Big spaces & solitude can do some mystical things to your head. I am so grateful to be able to enjoy this wilderness and feel like a homo sapien.
"Closely control children" signs are my favorite.