There’s a commericial for Planet Fitness where a massive weightlifter at a competitor’s gym say’s “I pick things up and put them down.” (I suppose they are saying that their own gyms have a normal person clientele, not just dumb brutes). Sometimes hiking the AT makes one feel like a dumb brute (or a pack animal) just hiking up and hiking back down again. Basically the average day starts with a massive uphill climb as the shelters and campsites are usually quite low in elevation. I wake up early so I can do this climb while it’s cool outside. The first climb takes 30-60 minutes and is typically 1000 ft gain in elevation. The problem with the AT is that the trail does not then stay at the elevation you’ve climb to. Rather, it goes back down again and you feel as if you’ve lost all that you just gained. A normal day will then see a few 400 ft climbs (and corresponding decents), probably a big 1500 ft climb, and then a knee jarring 2000 ft descent back to town or camp. It is designed, I believe, to make your muscles burn, lungs gasp, skin sweat, and joints get smashed in exactly that order.
I’ve decided to change my trailname from Bonsai to Banzai. I’ve actually been pronounced it like the latter. (It turns out they are pronounced differently in Japanese) Speaking of Bonsai/Banzai, The Karate Kid came on in my hotel room in Daleville a few days ago. I had seen the movie dozens of times growing up and it was a factor in my own pursuance of a Black Belt. However, I now realize that the VHS tape I had misses the first 1/3 of the movie. I never knew the backstory – Daniel moves from New Jersey and Mr. Miyagi is the fix-it-man at Daniel’s new apartment. Elizabeth Shue’s character had been previously dating Johnny, the tough kid – naturally casted with Billy Zabka. When she has interest in Daniel, Johnny and the Cobra Kai aren’t too happy about it and decide to beat him up repeatedly until Mr. Miyagi steps in and delays the fighting till the big tournament. Without the first 1/3 of this movie, I always figured it was just random fighting, but now I realize the whole purpose of all the fighting – Elizabeth Shue!
In Daleville I bought a bunch of new gear for the summer at the outfitter including some new “darn tough” socks. I felt pretty swanky in all this new gear and thus on the first night out when a mouse bit a hole through my sock in the shelter I realized it was a lesson in humility. Do not be too proud about your stuff, it falls apart quickly. There a Russian movie called Ostrov that everyone should watch. (You can probably find it online). In the movie the main character, Ostrov, is a monk who owns almost nothing and works in the lighthouse to keep the fire constantly burning. In one scene the head of the monastary, clad in a fur jacket and leather boots, makes a visit. Ostrov locks them both in the tower and puts so much wood in the fire that they are soon gasping for air. Just before they succumb to the smoke he lets the door open and the head of monastery quickly runs out, but not before Ostrov throws the coat and boots into the freezing water outside. After a moment the head of the monastery comes to his senses and thanks Ostrov. He had realized that he was concerned about his death and did not trust God. Likewise, he had been too attached to the boots and the coat and needed Ostrov to break the spell they had over him.
I hiked for a few days with the same group, something I have not done much of on the trail. They included Newton, Jeremiah, Rainbow Braid, Mooch, Jean Genie, and Duffulminer. We finished one day with a 2200 ft ascent up Floyd Mountain and then 400 ft down to the Cornelius Creek Shelter. There we met the trail maintainers Zorra and Cornelius who are assigned a 2 mile stretch in that area. This was the first trail magic I’ve ever recieved at a shelter and, boy, was it good trail magic. They brought a full dinner enough for all 6 of us who arrived at the shelter. Fried Chicken, potato salad, fruit salad, apples, carrots, and cookies. I’ll add a picture of the maintainers that I took with them carrying their equipment.
I’m thinking a lot about a theme which Jesus repeats over and over in the Gospels – that “everyone that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” So I’m working on an article on this topic. There are at least a dozen similar sayings and related parables in just the Gospel of Luke which I’m currently reading. Hopefully I’ll develop my thoughts clearly in this article. I’m also thinking about an articly on God’s Soveriengty; which may make my conversion to the Dark Side (Presbyterianism) complete. 🙂 But, actually I want to come at it a bit differently than the Presbyterians do. Essentially in other places I’ve developed thoughts on God being the standard for knowledge (epistemology) and the standard for Good (ethics) and thus as God is the standard for all things he is Sovereign. He is in control because he makes the rules. If only I weren’t hiking 12 hours a day I might have energy to complete these articles. Good thing I have 3 1/2 years of seminary coming up.
Not much else of note on the trail. I crossed the James River yesterday on the longest footbridge on the trail. I got a picture of a luna moth. A picture of a low hanging rock called the guillotine, and a picture of a roadside dinosaur in Glasgow VA. I don’t really have any plans coming up but just to walk North. Plans never work out here anyways.
– Walk on road hm? Walk on left side, safe. Walk on right side safe. Walk middle, sooner or later splat. – Mr. Miyagi