6-10-17 – 6-14-17
I’m not going to bury the lead – there were Black Flies, and at times the ferocity of the flies reached biblical proportions. This was a figurative and actual cloud that hovered around my head for this entire five-day trip. But the weather was fantastic.
For this trip I was joined by BabyBack who does share a certain genetic resemblance. Perhaps that was what made it possible for him to go on such an intense trip.
Day 1 – 6-10-17
We started with a hike into what is known as the “Flowed Lands,” by Lake Colden from the Upper Works Iron Company parking. Apparently there was a lot of mining for iron in this area at one time and was the genesis for Stan Lee’s little known comic book character IRon Man, or so I have been told. We got a very early start which meant we could leave our gear at the lean-to, have lunch, and still have time to climb a mountain.
Mt. Marshall –
Another “trail-less” peak meaning another opportunity to find our way through vast expanses of mud. The was us was almost an emerald road along a brook and moss lined rocks – the green reflection from the moss on the rocks was brilliant. Marshall did not have a bald peak, but did offer some very beautiful views. Some cruel individual put the sign for the peak higher than the normal human could reach.
The prayer for Marshall was by the great musician, scholar, and missionary doctor Albert Schweitzer:
Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put to death. We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands and kindly words. Make us ourselves to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessing of the merciful.
This is definitely a prayer made by someone ensconced in civilization. I wondered if, in the mountains, there could be the same kind of mercy that Schweitzer was asking for. Perhaps the mercy that I can show while deep in the wilderness is one that expresses as sense of respect towards the environment that I am in. The impact that I have with each step, when I brush my teeth, if I were to sleep on the ground, is seen immediately. Mercy would be found in my working a little harder to have a little impact as possible. For the most part I am not in the position to put an animal to death (except for those expletive flies), but the way I conduct myself can lead to the flourishing or the suffering of animals I am never be aware of. Mercy can be found in the very way that I live.
We had to use the map and the compass to find the descent trail (take the loop when you can, it makes life more interesting!), but with BabyBack’s detective skills we found it and had a late but tasty supper at our camp.
Day 2 – 6-11-17
Cue Edvard Grieg’s sunrise music from the Peer Gynt Suite:
This is the view from the beach at our camp site as the sun is rising.
And this is the view of BabyBack having breakfast. Yum.
The thing about where we are staying (Livingston Point Lean-To) is that by cutting through a marsh we save at least an hour and 1.5 miles of hiking to get to where we want to go. And we can enjoy the wonderful views:
Today was going to be a three mountain day with ladders and rocks and waterfalls
And, a beautiful lake at a raised elevation – Lake Tear in the Clouds
Mount Grey –
Named after Asa Grey who was some kind of botanist and someone who I think lived a monochromatic life, this was the highest of the trail-less peaks. This was also the first place where I got scraped enough to draw blood, so there is a part of me on the mountain (gross!). There were some interesting and fun parts of this mountain and a somewhat ok view at the top, but I was excited to get there.
Methodist founder John Wesley offered me the prayer for this mountain:
Fix our steps, O Lord, that we may not stagger at the uneven motions of the world, but steadily go on to our glorious home, neither censuring our journey by the weather we meet with nor turning out of the way by anything that befalls us… Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I can only imagine that Wesley was thinking of me when he wrote this prayer, especially considering the cold and wet weather of the previous trip. Or, maybe Wesley spent a lot of time of ships sailing from place to place and had the experience in mind. Or Wesley was speaking figuratively and metaphorically. We’ll never know. I do know that there are times when I look to the sky and make decisions to stay the course or change direction because I am not feeling safe about what lies ahead. There are times when I stumble, not so much because the world is rocking (even thought it is) but because the ground is uneven and I am not sure of my step. For me in the mountains, thinking about my walk with God, this was a darn good prayer. Thanks JW!
We could see our next mountain from Grey – Marcy (the highest point in New York State).
Mt. Marcy –
While this is the highest, and the most popular, it is not my favorite. It is probably because I am so contrarian because it is a beautiful and amazing peak, and not an easy one to climb.
At the top we saw a gaggle of bros who all seemed to forget their shirts. I am sorry that I did not get any pictures of the shirtless dude-bros, but they are known to get very attached to the camera and I did not want to encourage them.
Marcy was windy. Windy and cold. Windy and cold and beautiful. Which made the prayer for this mountain interesting:
Christ, be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise, Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. Salvation is of the Lord, salvation is of the Christ, may your salvation, O Lord, be ever with us. – St. Patrick (389-461)
With the wind as strong as it was, it often felt like Christ was being taken out of me. It was also easy to imagine Christ around me, to the left, right, ect. The wind really helped with the prayer. I was caught with the notion of “Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me.” Am I to have that kind of impact so that even the memories of me will bring someone to think of Christ?
This was a considerably easier mountain from the Tear Lake at the Clouds. It still caused the appropriate amount of gasping and grunting, but much less then Marcy. This summit was much quieter with wind and with people. There was someone at the top, a wandering man that we met later, who was whistling “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”
The stack of rocks at the summit are placed there by hikers who believe that by rearranging the earth in small ways will keep rain from falling. I didn’t have the heart to suggest to someone carrying a boulder up the mountain that weather is actually caused by wind, weather fronts, and the specific dance you do in the morning. Silly rocks!
The prayer for Skylight is my first in a collection by the great English Baptist preacher Charles H. Spurgeon:
O my savior, let men not fall little by little, or think myself able to bear the indulgence of any known sin because it seems so insignificant. Keep me from sinful beginnings, lest they lead me on to sorrowful endings. – C. H. Spurgeon 1834-1892
I was just bragging about how much easier Skylight was and now I am sitting with this prayer to keep me from sinful beginnings. Hmm…
The day ended with a long hike back through the marsh, a swim, supper, and a moment to enjoy the sunset.
Day 3 – 6-12-17
We have had enough of Livingston and decided to leave and drive/hike to a different place. 5.5 miles out with full pack and then 5.5 miles back in with full pack makes for a long and somewhat tiring day. But the shelter was worth it.
Day 4 – 6-13-17
Today was great. It was only great because we did what is known as the “Great Range.” Most of the mountain ranges in the Adirondacks are sparse and do not make it easy to traverse from one mountain to another. I was given the impression that the “Great Range” was different, but it really did feel like we were walking up and down again and again. To keep things moving along I go quickly through the six peaks we climbed:
Lower Wolfjaw –
We huffed and we puffed and we worked hard to get to the top to find not much of a summit to enjoy. It was not labeled, so we were not even sure if we did find the top. Luckily there was an Eagle Scout sitting there professing that we had indeed reached the apex of the mountain. And he is not supposed to lie.
The prayer for Lower Wolfjaw continues my walk with Dr. Spurgeon:
Lord, educate us for a higher life, and let that life be begun here. May we be always in the school, always disciples, and when we are out in the world may we be trying to put into practice what we have learned at Jesus’ feet. What he tells us in darkness may we proclaim in the light, and what he whispers in our ear in the closets may we sound forth upon the house-tops. – C.H. Spurgeon
Upper Wolfjaw –
More huffing and puffing and then being tricked into what we thought was the summit. While this looked pretty convincing:
It was actually this:
The prayer for Upper Wolfjaw:
Come and help us, Lord Jesus. A vision of your face will brighten us; but to feel your Spirit touching us will make us vigorous. Oh! for the leaping and walking of the man born lame. May we today dance with holy joy, like David before the ark of God. May a holy exhilaration take possession of every part of us; may we be glad in the Lord; may our mouth be filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing, “for the Lord hath done great things for us whereof we are glad.” – C.H. Spurgeon
I really liked the image of joy and celebration that Spurgeon calls us to embrace with this prayer. In the mountains, when I am not huffing and puffing it is easy to find this level of joy.
Why aren’t the summits labeled? We searched and searched and found a gathering of “Old Bros” from the home of the Baseball Hall of Fame who claimed that this spot was the summit. Even if it wasn’t, it was a great place to sit and ponder
Lord, slay sloth within us and never let us find a pillow for doctrines of grace for ease while yet a single sin remains… O keep us, we beg you, Lord, for without your keeping, we cannot keep ourselves. – C.H. Spurgeon
Without your keeping, we cannot keep ourselves. Spurgeon is great with the humility… not that I need it.
This is one of my favorite mountains for the look of it, the views, and the fun in the descent (see the pictures of the cable). This mountain even had a marker telling us that we did indeed make it to the summit.
The prayer for the top, the last of my prayers from Spurgeon:
Be pleased to visit your Church with the Holy Spirit. Renew the day of Pentecost in the midst, and in the midst of all gatherings of your people, may there come the downfall of the holy fire, the uprising of the heavenly wind. May matters that are now slow and dead become quick and full of life, and may the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted in the midst of his Church which is his fullness – “the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” May multitudes be converted; may they come flocking to Christ with holy eagerness to find in him a refuge as the doves fly to their dovecotes. – C.H. Spurgeon
Fun time on the way down with the cable
Saddleback Mountain –
The weather was starting to get cloudy and windy and we were starting to get tired. But the summit was still nice and I started to pray with Teresa of Avila (1515-1583):
Let nothing disturb you. Let nothing frighten you. All things pass. God does not change. Patience achieves everything. Whoever has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.
As a possible storm front was moving in this prayer seemed all the more appropriate. The hike off of Saddleback was very difficult as you can see from the pictures
The final mountain for the day we were completely in the clouds:
Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good. Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people. – Teresa of Avila
When we could not see anything this prayer seemed all the more apt.
We ended the day tired but feeling good about ourselves. When we returned to the Lean-to we meet a group of Canadian College Students who were going to share the space with us. A nice group of young men and women, but what else would you expect from Canada?
Day 5 – 6-14-17
Today was supposed to be an easy day. At BabyBack’s request we had a late start and took our time up the mountain. We enjoyed a lazy lunch and then BabyBack asked if it might be possible to return home after lunch. Not home the Lean-to, but home, home. So we sprung up from our places of rest, and moved with haste down the mountain, packed our gear, and started the 5.5 mile hike out. An easy day became another long day, but the shower felt great.
The prayer for Haystack:
O my beloved, you are so good! May you be blessed forever. May all things praise you, my God. You have loved us so much that we are able to speak of communion between you and our souls here in our exile. This proves your boundless generosity and magnanimity, even in the case of souls who are already good. This abundance is who you are, my Lord; you give according to your nature. O Infinite Bounty, your works are magnificent! – Teresa of Avila
Overall it was a great trip. The process of taking time to pray at each peak is starting to work on me in a good way. I am not sure what will come out of it yet, but I know that each moment is indeed blessed.