7-22-17 – 7-25-17
This was my last solo trip, and the theme for the trip was “take it slow.” Avid followers of these journeys may remember the experience I had on the Northville-Placid trail where I really went way to fast. It seems that when I am by myself I have this weird desire to get to the top of the mountain as quickly as possible and then back down and then to the next thing and the next and the next. After some reflection I have found myself realizing that I may be missing something from such a breakneck pace (and running the risk of breaking my neck). So the theme for this trip was to take it slow, and in doing so I found that I got to meet a number of different people.
Day 1 – Giant of the Valley, Rocky Ridge Peak, and Blueberry Lean-to
Giant of the Valley
An early start from Albany got me to the trailhead for Giant/Rocky around 8:30am. Giant/Rocky is one of the ADK mountains that people can climb as an “easy” day hike (Cascade/Porter is the other). By that I mean you do not have to hike in 5-6 miles before even starting your ascent up the mountain. So these are more popular mountains to climb because they are more accessible. But a crowded trail is ok because the theme for trip is to take it slow.
It was a beautiful day with beautiful views:
Partway up the mountain I met Buffalo, who drove all the way from a certain city in New York State that shall not be named. Buffalo had only done some hiking around his home city and was enjoying his first foray into the ADK. We ended up hiking together all the way up Giant where the sun was still shining and the views were great.
The prayer for Giant was from John of the Cross:
We must dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides.
I enjoyed the contrast in John’s prayer focusing on digging while I was climbing. Despite the contrast, it was not difficult to glean a taste of the infinite nature of Christ’s riches while I was able to look out over the horizon of mountains seeming to go on forever
Rocky Ridge Peak
From Giant I took the easy hike to Rocky Ridge Peak, and Buffalo joined me. The conversation was light, surface, and easy for the most part, but very enjoyable. It is great to have someone to talk to while hiking.
The clouds were beginning to roll in and threaten rain on the summit of Rocky meaning I needed to rush my lunch. I never like rushing my lunch, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not burst the clouds.
On the top of Rocky I sat with another prayer by John of the Cross:
Let your divinity shine on my intellect by giving it divine knowledge, and on my will by imparting to it the divine love on my memory with the divine possession of glory.
In part, this is a wonderful twist on what more Pentecostal/Evangelicals may describe as an anointing. It is one that wears you more and more towards the love of God – a wonderful prayer.
Buffalo joined me for the a part of the descent and then decided to take a different trail. I didn’t take it personally. On the way down I met a young couple (college age) who were anticipating a 1.5 mile walk on the road back to their car. I offered to give them a ride – it was on the way – and for some reason they accepted without hesitation. Maybe the beard is not long enough yet.
The bulk of the trip was going to be spent in what is known as the Seward Mountains – four mountains that I would need to give two days to hike. I decided to stay at Blueberry Lean-to because I assumed there would be a large quantity of blueberries to snack on. I was sadly disappointed. It was a place for families – a father and son the first day and a family of four the second and third days. Not wanting to be left out of the family dynamics I referred to my pack as my child in only the way someone who has been in the wilderness for two months could.
Day 2 – Seward, Donaldson, Emmons
Today I planned on climbing three mountains, starting with Seward. It is named after the very same Seward who, in a moment of folly, pushed for the purchase of Alaska and who was the secretary of state for Lincoln. It felt historic climbing the namesake of such an interesting person. While the trail was nice in many places and offered some really great views, I was never really sure when I reached the summit. I had felt like I could not go any higher and saw only mud and decided that this must be the top.
It was then, only a couple of yards later that I found the actual top of the mountain.
Here I had my last prayer with John of the Cross:
O abyss of delights! You are so much the more abundant the more your riches are concentrated in the infinite unity and simplicity of your unique being, where one attribute is so known and enjoyed as not to hinder the perfect knowledge and enjoyment of the other; rather, each grace and virtue within you is a light for each of your other granduers. By your purity, O divine wisdom, many things are behold in you through one. For you are the deposit of the Father’s treasures, the splendor of the eternal light, the unspotted mirror and the image of his goodness.
Again, John speaks of going deep and I am going high, looking for wisdom, inspiration, and direction from God. I appreciated the insight that the more I learned the more I would yearn for and desire. It is a wonderful kind of addiction.
From Seward I could see the next two mountains that I was going to climb
I had to climb down Seward before going up Donaldson and passed a number of day hikers – one who was looking for the top of Seward. I just pointed up.
Donaldson was underwhelming as a mountain with not much of a view.
The prayer, however, was from one of my favorite theologians, Walter Rauschenbusch:
O God, we thank you for this universe, our great home; for its vastness and its riches, and for the manifoldness of the life which teems upon it and of which we are part. We praise you for the arching sky and the blessed winds, for the driving clouds and the constellations on high. We praise you for the salt sea and the running water, for the everlasting hills, for the trees, and for the grass under our feet. We thank you for our senses by which we can see the splendor of the morning and hear the jubilant songs of love, and smell the breath of the springtime. Grant us, we pray you, a heart wide open to all this joy and beauty, and save our souls from being so steeped in care or so darkened by passion that we pass heedless and unseeing when even the thornbush by the wayside is aflame with the Glory of God.
Here I am complaining that Donaldson does not have pristine views and Rauschenbusch reminds me through this prayer that everything I can see and experience and enjoy is a blessing from God. Thanks Walter.
From Donaldson I made my way to Emmons, the final peak in the bunch. Again, I had to climb down one mountain to go up the next one, but this wasn’t as difficult as Seward to Donaldson. I meet two guys who hiked up Donaldson the night before and spent the night in hammocks. I asked if they had lemonade with the hammocks.
Emmons had some sense of a view
My prayer for Emmons continued my journey with Rauschenbusch
O God, we pray for your Church, which is set today amid the perplexities of a changing order, and face to face with a great new task. We remember with love the nurture she gave to our spiritual life in its infancy, the tasks she set for our growing strength, the influence of the devoted hearts she gathers, the steadfast power for good she has exerted. When we compare her with all human institutions, we rejoice, for there is none like her. But when we judge her by the mind of the Master, we bow in pity and contrition. Oh, baptize her afresh in the life-giving spirit of Jesus! Grant her a new birth, though it be with the travail of repentance and humiliation. Bestow upon her a more imperious responsiveness to duty, a swifter compassion with suffering, and an utter loyalty to the will of God. Put upon her lips the ancient Gospel of her Lord. Help her to proclaim boldly the coming of the kingdom of God and the doom of all that resist it. Fill her with the prophets’ scorn of tyranny, and with a Christ-like tenderness for the heavy-laden and down trodden. Give her faith to espouse the cause of the people, and in their hands that grope after freedom and light to recognize the bleeding hands of Christ. Bid her cease from seeking her own life, lest she lose it. Make her valiant to give up her life to humanity, that like her crucified Lord, she may mount by the path of the Cross to a higher glory.
I have been away from my church family for almost two months by this time and with this prayer missed them all. I was again reminded that we cannot be Christians on our own.
The fun thing about these mountains is that once you climb all three the only way back to the lean-to is to climb all three again. Hooray.
On the way back I met the family of four starting their way up the mountain. They had a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old. I told them I would try to keep supper warm for them, but they did not end up getting back until about 11:30pm.
Day 3 – Seymour
It rained. And rained. And rained. And it got much colder. I slept in a little bit to give some space for the family to sleep in, but eventually decided it was time to get moving. At about 10:30am (very late for me) I started my way up Seymour.
Things started ok, just a little chilly, but by the time I made it to the top of the mountain the clouds had completely covered the mountain, the wind was blowing and the rain was cold and harsh. As you can see, I was not very happy at the top of the mountain.
The prayer from Rauschenbusch was interesting:
We invoke your gentlest blessings, our Father, on all true lovers. We praise you for the great longing that draws the soul of man and maid together and bids them leave all the dear bonds of the past to cleave to one another. We thank you for the revealing power of love which divines in the one beloved the mystic beauty and glory of humanity. We thank you for the transfiguring power of love which ripens and ennobles our nature, calling forth the hidden stores of tenderness and strength, and overcoming the selfishness of youth by the passion of self-surrender.
Here I am, shivering uncontrollably, at the top of the mountain and I am praying for people in relationships. But that is a part of relationships, to find ourselves in a place where it feels harsh and cold, and still to be reminded of the presence of God in the love that God gives us.
On the way back down I met the family of four and decided to walk back up with them – it was a cold, difficult hike.
Day 4 – Cascade, Porter
Today I was going home, but planned on climbing Cascade and Porter on the way. These are described as the “easy” hikes in the Adirondacks, so I was not planning on them taking a long time. On the way up Cascade I met a man who had recently given his life to Christ – Awesome! We talked about the blessing that can be found faith but then I found out he did not have a church community. He had so many questions, more than I could answer, and I urged him to find a church. People, hear me please, you need a church community!
It was not a great day for hiking as the clouds never left. These two mountains were supposed to have great views, but all I saw were more clouds. First Cascade and then Porter:
It was difficult to pray on these mountains because despite the weather there were still a lot of people on the peaks and I was a bit distracted. I did try:
Cascade had my last prayer from Rauschenbusch:
We bless thee for the inspired souls of all ages who saw afar the shining city of God, and by faith left the profit of the present to follow their vision. We rejoice that today the hope of these lonely hearts is becoming the clear faith of millions. Help us, O Lord, in the courage of faith to seize what has now come so near, that the glad day of God may dawn at last. Make us so determined to live by truth and not by lies, to found our common life on the eternal foundations of righteousness and love. Help us to make the welfare of all the supreme law of our land, that so our commonwealth may be built strong and secure on the love of all its citizens. Cast down the throne of Mammon who ever grinds the life of men, and set up thy throne, O Christ, for thou didst die that men might live. Amen
Porter began my prayers from a poem written by Jennie Clare Adams. Adams was an American Baptist missionary to the Philippians in the 19403, part of the Hopevale group. On December 20, 1943 she and all the other missionaries and their children were killed by the Japanese army – they were martyrs in the truest sense. I felt in awe to read and sit with her poems:
Let me live bravely; for life has many battlefields where valor must be shown, many darkened corners, where pain and fear are known. Life calls for sacrifice, to share the highest good, to serve courageously, sometimes to give life’s blood. As others lived and gave, let me be brave.
What is it that God is calling me to be brave about?
Overall it was a great trip – some good weather, some bad, and lots of great people to meet and get to know. And in my goal to reach 46 peaks, at the end of this trip I had climbed 37.