Wednesday, August 15, 2012

On the Path

"Anything is one of a million paths.
Therefore, you must keep in mind that a path is only a path;
if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions.
To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life.
Only then will you know that any path is only a path,
and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what you heart tells you to do.
But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition." ~ Don Juan


Blog. It's such an ugly little word. Somehow, I've managed to avoid contributing to the "blogosphere", I've even been approached by friends to "blog" about my experiences. Now seems like an opportune time to jump in with both feet, if only to satisfy the need to put words to page, or fingers to keys, as it were. Herein lies the last mention of the word blog in this... journal.

It would be rude to not give some background, as to the whys, hows, and generalities of my journey thus far, so I'll gloss it over until I get to the important bits.

I was born, time passed, things happened, I grew up. Fast forward to the summer of 2001, fresh off a yearlong battle of wits with myself and the University of Maine. A friend suggested I come and climb Katahdin with her. I said sure, not knowing what I was getting myself into. My family wasn't especially outdoorsy, as in we never went hiking or camping, or anything of the sort when I was growing up. I'll also mention, I was a heavy smoker at the time. I have been tobacco free since March 2010

The day came, up early, barreling north on I-95 from Bangor, glimpsing the giant mountain and being told, "we're climbing that". The feeling in the pit in your stomach, the lump in your throat, the "pucker factor", whatever you want to call it, I felt it that day. Sparing the details of the grueling hike, we reached a point on the Tableland (I now know to be not far from the summit), the wind fierce and cold, and huddled behind a rock. We could hear people yelling from the summit, they sounded close, but we could barely see ten feet in front of us, and the day was growing late. My first "big" mountain summit bid ended in a cloud just short of it, smoking a cigarette in the shelter of a boulder, then retreating the way I came.

It put the hook in me. We returned a few weeks later, in much better weather, and stood atop Katahdin. It was, as far as I'm concerned, the defining moment in my life, and here's where I've ended up. I spent the next 8 years or so, working dead end jobs, smoking, doing drugs, and generally being sedentary. Some might say, a wasted string of years, and I wouldn't be in any position to disagree with them. It's unimportant now, it happened, there's naught to be done about it. The point of it all is that I freed myself from what was holding me down, regained the body in which I was merely residing, and actually started to live in it again.

After several months of what could dubiously be called exercise (some light bicycling, and mucho longboarding), I took a few short hikes, and while doing some research for slightly bigger hikes, I ran into the peakbagging lists. Now I've never been a numbers man (math = kryptonite), but these ones were daunting. 48, 67, 100, 52, 72, 576. At that point, I never considered myself to be a goal oriented person, so I up and decided to become one.

On August 27, 2010, I tackled the Franconia Ridge loop, going clockwise. It was a struggle to the top of Lafayette, lungs not cooperating, windy, summit enveloped in cloud. Across the ridge, views opened up, clouds lifted and soared past me. From that point forward, I was truly hooked. Nearly every week for the next 10 months, I grew in experience, and gear, as I checked off peak after peak. On July 1, 2011, I stood on Bondcliff, alone, in the rain, mission accomplished.

It's beyond a mission now. I keep track of the various lists that I figure I've started, and I'll see them through to their eventual finish. What's more important, is being out, getting a feel for my surroundings, and losing myself in them. It's for the workout, it's for the sights, sounds, and colors, and it's for the experience of the trails and peaks, and sometimes the lack thereof.

TL;DR - I was born. Time passed. Things happened. I grew up. I hiked most of this mountain once. It was pretty awesome. I fucked up. For a long time. I turned it around. I hiked a lot of mountains. I'm still doing it.

Expect trip reports, photos, some colorful language, and some perhaps coherent, what passes for english these days, writing from my perspective.

Cheers.


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