8-8-17 – 8-10-17
Pete and Repeat climb a mountain, Pete sees a bear… who is left?
read on for the answer!
This trip was with both StillWaters and BabyBack; the last trip with StillWaters. Since I am now in a great place to finish all of the 46 peaks we did mountains that I have already done so that StillWaters and BabyBack could experience their beauty. I am magnanimous like that. So it was a trip of repeats, but not only with mountains. I had another bear encounter.
Day 1 – Livingston Point Lean-To
Once again we stayed at Livingston Point Lean-To. I think this was my fourth or fifth time at that lean-to this summer, and I continue to really enjoy that lean-to. There are a couple of reasons why I like Livingston so much. Part of it is the scenery – eating on the beach, looking at the mountains, and enjoying the beauty of the Flowed Lands is a gift. Part of the reason I like to stay at Livingston is the proximity to many of the mountains that are great to climb. As long as you are willing to walk through the marsh, it is a great starting point. Finally, it is a fairly remote location which tends to minimize bear visitation. A lot of people stay at Lake Colden (about 1.5 miles away), and others at lean-to across a stream that we have to cross, but not many at all stay at Livingston. This means that, in theory, if there is going to be any bear activity then it will most likely be in the area where there are a lot of people and not at the remote, seldom visited locations. This is the theory, anyway (foreshadowing!).
We had a nice, fairly easy hike in, enjoyed a somewhat late dinner, and got ready for bed. I would say it was an unremarkable but very pleasant evening.
Then, at 1:00am, we had a visitor. I woke to the sound of something or someone going through either my toilet paper or my first aid kit – I tend to keep both by my feet when I am sleeping… just in case. Thinking it might be either BabyBack or StillWaters needed some kind of assistance I sat up to see the silhouette of a large figure with very noticeable round ears. I think we locked eyes for a moment (it was dark), and then the figure got down on all fours and went around to the side of the lean-to. My first thought was that maybe StillWaters or BabyBack was a skin changer from the line of Beorn (you are welcome, Hobbit nerds), but then realized that we just had a very close and personal visit with a bear.
In all my hiking and camping experience this was the closest I have ever been to a bear (as far as I know) as it was only inches from my feet. I will say that all of our food was in canisters, that there was nothing in our lean-to, and we did everything right which is most likely why the bear never came into our dwelling. I will also say that if the bear only asked I would have gladly shared my toilet paper (I always carry a spare role… because you can never have too much) or helped him if he needed first aid. Perhaps the bear had a splinter in his paw and needed someone to remove it. It could have been the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Yet we were scared, the bear was eventually scared (after much yelling on our part), and the rift between humankind and bear-kind remains.
Eventually we all got back to sleep. As I drifted off into what was going to be a restless night I realized that so far this summer I have had two fairly intense bear encounters. One more and I will begin to take it personally.
Day 2 – Mountains Gray, Skylight, and Redfield
Despite the night visitor we still managed to rise early and start the day. Our plan was to climb mountains Gray, Redfield, and Cliff. After a nice breakfast we started off through the marsh and towards the mountains. A number times we stopped to note the fresh bear tracks on the path. It is good to know that bears also respect the rules of the mountains and stay on the trail.
It was a nice day, if only a bit overcast, and the hike to Gray was pleasant. The junction with Gray is at Lake Tear of the Clouds – a place I always enjoy in its beauty at the higher altitude (circa 4,000 feet). Some say that it is at this lake the mighty Hudson begins.
Some of the views from Gray are beautiful, especially the view of Mt Marcy
Even though I had already climbed these mountains before I still took some time to pray at the tops. With Gray I had this wonderful prayer from Thomas Merton:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Here in my last month of my sabbatical I do wonder if I know what I am doing or where I am going with my vocation. There is a real sense of trust not only in being a part of a church but in being with a leadership position. Looking for God’s desire or at least being as honest about my own desires is a great reminder for staying true to God’s calling and will.
While we were taking a break we looked across at Skylight Mountain and collectively agreed that it was so close that it would be a shame to not go up it and enjoy the peak. So we went back to the Lake Tear of the Clouds and then quickly up Skylight for lunch. It was a nice hike up, and a great place for lunch.
From the top of Skylight we could see Mount Allen which we had planned to climb the next day. It was good to get the perspective of this solitary and difficult mountain.
(Note: while this picture was taken from the summit of Redfield, we did spend time gazing at Allen from Skylight)
The prayer at Skylight was from the great 20th century African American mystic and theologian Howard Thurman:
The concern which I lay bare before you today is: whatever disaffection there is between me and those who are or have been very close to me – I would seek the root or cause of such disaffection, and with the illumination of your mind, O God, to understand it. I give myself to your scrutiny that, whatever there may be in me that is responsible for what has happened, I will acknowledge. Where I have wronged or given offense deliberately or without intention, I seek a face-to-face forgiveness. What I can undo I am willing to try; what I cannot undo, with that I seek to make my peace. How to do these things, what techniques to use, with what spirit – for these I need and seek your wisdom and strength, O God. Whatever disaffection there is between me and those who are or have been very close to me, I lay bare before you.
An honest and challenging prayer.
From Skylight we went to Mount Redfield. Part of the trail was pretty muddy:
Other parts were enjoyable - up a brook with some great views.
Howard Thurman’s prayer reminded me that my sense and idea time is not always the best and that I need to give it to God. A necessary lesson for this sabbatical:
I need your sense of time. Always I have an underlying anxiety about things. Sometimes I am in a hurry to achieve my ends and am completely without patience. It is hard for me to realize that some growth is slow, that not all processes are swift. I cannot discriminate between what takes time to develop and what can be rushed because my sense of time is dulled. O to understand the meaning of perspective that I may do all things with a profound sense of leisure of time. – I need your sense of order. The confusion of the details of living is sometimes overwhelming. The little things keep getting in my way, providing ready-made excuses for failure to do and be what I know I ought to do and be. Much time is spent on things that are not very important while significant things are put in an insignificant place in my scheme of order. I must unscramble my affairs so that my life will become order. O God, I need your sense of order. – I need your sense of the future. Teach me to know that life is ever on the side of the future. Keep alive in me the future look, the high hope. Let me not be frozen either by the past or the present. Grant me, O Patient One, your sense of the future without which all life would sicken and die.
Often, after climbing Redfield one then goes to Cliff Mountain, but it was getting late and we did not want to be going down the mountain in the dark, so decided to call it a day and head back to the lean-to. We crossed through the marsh at almost the perfect time for lighting, as the sun was beginning to set and offering a golden hue on the terrain.
That night we left the candle-lantern lit so if the bear returned it would feel more welcomed. We did not have any visitors.
Day 3- Mount Allen
The next day we were off to Mount Allen – my third excursion, StillWater’s second, and BabyBack’s first. Since I had just been there ten days before we felt confident that we would be able to climb the mountain without any trouble.
We decided that we would hike out to the cars after Allen, so shouldered all of our gear and made our way to the base of the mountain.
Of course we had to stop at Hanging Spear Falls on the way up. 75 feet high, beautiful, and at least 6 miles deep in the wilderness – it is a gift to spend time enjoying that beauty.
After about 3 more miles, we stashed our full packs, put on our daypacks, and started the circa 5 mile hike to the summit of Allen. The woods on that trail are beautiful, changing slightly from place to place. Even though I had just climbed the mountain, I had forgotten how difficult it was to climb Allen. It is not even in the top ten of highest mountains, yet it is long and challenging. BabyBack and I took our time, but eventually made it to the summit.
This was a particular celebration for StillWaters and I since it was attempting to climb Allen that we got very, very lost (see trip #6)
Thurman’s prayer seemed to put things into perspective of what is and is not important. Thinking about getting lost a previous time up this mountain connected well with the sense of what is important.
Our little lives, our big problems – these we place upon your altar! The quietness in your temple of silence again and again rebuffs us: for some there is no discipline to hold them steady in the waiting, and the minds reject the noiseless invasion of your spirit. For some there is no will to offer what is central in the thoughts- the confusion is so manifest, there is no starting place to take hold. For some the evils of the world tear down all concentrations and scatter the focus of the high resolves. We do not know how to do what we know to do. We do not know how to be what we know to be. Our little lives, our big problems – these we place upon your altar! Pour out upon us whatever our spirits need the shock o, of life, of release that we may find strength for these days – courage and hope for tomorrow. In confidence we rest in your sustaining race which makes possible triumph in defeat, gain in loss, and love in hate. We rejoice this day to say: Our little lives, our big problems – these we place upon your altar!
After going down the mountain we got our full packs and headed back to the cars. This was the first time I had hiked this trail and enjoyed the diversity and variety of views
I did not enjoy the spooky cabins in the woods
And was glad to see some other great “natural” views sans creepy-haunted structures
As a rule I would prefer to not hike out to the car on the same day as I climb a mountain – I get tired and cranky –
But overall it was a great hike and a great trip. I still have 6 mountains left and two more trips to go.