Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I'm not a mountain climber at all. I hike. I do a little rock scrambling from time to time, and the most "dangerous" thing I ever do is bushwhack in wilderness areas. Bushwhacking, for those who aren't familiar with the term, is when you hike where there are no marked trails. As long as you go prepared, it isn't dangerous at all. But it's the riskiest thing I ever do when I go into the high country.

Occasionally people ask me why I hike up mountains. Wouldn't it be simpler and more fun to drive to the top of a mountain or stop at an overlook at a place like the Blue Ridge Parkway. Well, I don't ever say this to the people who ask me those questions, but the answer is "No. And you're an idiot."

I've been an avid hiker and backpacker since I was a young teenager. I took my first two-week backpacking trip when I was 15 years old. Since that time, except for a few years when I was too busy with a job or with family responsibilities, I've spent a lot of time going hiking, camping, and backpacking. It's been many years since I've taken more than a three-day backpacking trip, but I go often enough to keep my skills sharp.

Sometimes the effort of getting to the top of a mountain or to the lip of a gorge is really tough. Sometimes I even overdo it on the exertion, as I did this Sunday when I misjudged the slope and the vertical climb before me on my way to bagging Little Pisgah Mountain. In that case, I got a bit dehydrated, a bit too hot, and...well...I'll be 51 years old in four days and I just don't have the physical strength and stamina that I had even five years ago. I just plumb gave out and had to rest short of the peak. I'm gettin' old.

Standing on the summit of Little Pisgah Mountain.

But as for the worth of it. Yeah, the doing is the thing. But not just that. There's usually a grand view from the top of a mountain. And that's always worth the effort, no matter what.

One of the grand views from the top of Little Pisgah Mountain.


Mia Wolff said...

I envy you your legs, old of not. My knee won't do those kind of things anymore--but I'm glad that someone is and taking pictures, too.

Mia Wolff said...

I envy you your legs, old or not. My knee won't do those kind of things anymore, but I'm glad someone is and taking pictures.

HemlockMan said...

I've been lucky enough never to have a serious leg injury. Worst was a foot injury two years ago that kept me from hiking for almost six months. But I recovered.