Day 183: Human hands

Stealthing near a brook [mile 1535.6; SOBO 517.2]

Today’s magic was made by human hands.

I slept well and got up at 5:15 and left the Little Shelter on the Prairie at about 6:45: still dark. Or darkish, I should say; I could see the white blazes well enough, and the rest if it was speedily heading toward light. It wasn’t even cold—gloves and a windshirt, but I didn’t need my fleece.

The early part of the trail was still full of debris and rocks and blowdowns; the ugly stuff. But then the pretty came back!

First, I rounded a corner and stumbled onto a remarkable view. It was Rutland airport seen from the woods, and for some reason I can’t put my finger on, it was magical. Maybe it was the mist hanging in the sky like smoke. Maybe it was the runways like crop circles in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it was the mountains in the background. It made me wish I still had my camera. I could not get a great shot.

[Argh! This phone just ATE a whole long post! I can’t remember it all! I have to summarize!]

Beautiful trail, mountains, grouse, owls. Then I passed the crazy rock sculpture garden I’ve been waiting for. Hikers have built myriad sculptures, some of them feats of engineering.

[Argh! Phone, how could you? How could you?]

Anyway, a great day was had by all. Until five minutes ago. 😉

~~~
Next morning:

So last night was a first. The not-enough-sleep must be getting to me. I was under my quilt, relatively toasty, and I wrote my journal entry. It captured the day. I usually do a quick spell check with a very broad sieve.

While I was doing that, I actually nodded off with my thumb on the backspace key.

I woke up a while later with most of the entry and 10% of my battery gone.

I know the writers out there get this. You know how horrible it feels to lose a chunk of writing, even just a journal entry? It was dark and cold, I was already exhausted and half-asleep, and I couldn’t—just couldn’t—reconstruct all that.

Thru-hiking the AT is about discomfort, not comfort. Suck it up and move on, I said. And turned out the light.

Anyway, it’s morning now and I’ve walked a ways and warmed up, and there are a couple of remnants I wanted to share. First, the owls. I woke up to them yesterday, and they were talking while I was writing last night. Before I came out here, I never knew how they sounded: OO-oo-OO-oo-OOOO, always in pairs, chattering back and forth at each other. ‘Honey, are you there?’ ‘I’m here! How was your day?’ ‘Great! Ate a mouse!’ ‘Did you put the car in for inspection?’ ‘No, owls don’t drive!’ That kind of thing. I love hearing them. Back in Virginia on a mountain there were two owls sitting on the same branch gabbing at each other, call and response. I didn’t see them, but the hikers behind me did.

Also, I wanted to talk about the sculpture garden. I’ve been seeing pictures and videos of that for forever, but I didn’t know where it was. Vermont someplace; that’s all I knew. So when I accidentally stumbled across it, I was thrilled! (Well… accidentally, heh. It’s right on the trail.)

It was awesome. The sheer ingenuity expended to balance some of those rockpiles is boggling. So creative.

At the same time, I have somewhat mixed feelings about it. Like graffiti in shelters, it’s a manmade intrusion. The point of being out in nature is to be out in nature. Seeing cairns stacked everywhere… it’s noisy. Civilization. Like finding an art museum in the middle of a lake. Nothing wrong with the museum, but it’s out of context, almost anachronistic.

I’ll have to think on it more.

I did leave my own contribution: just a few stones like a little house of cards. Who knows? I might have been the last ’13er to add to the museum!

Oh, and the airport? I couldn’t get a decent shot, but I wanted to post something to share the magic. Please insert mental magic when you look at it. Make a wish! I think it’ll come true! 🙂

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Categories: Appalachian Trail | Tags: | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Day 183: Human hands

  1. So sorry to hear about losing your post. That stinks! So many memories have made it through though, just written with pictures and quick thoughts. What a fantastic little spot – the cairn garden. At least it is more natural than carving letters in a shelter. It is something man made but with all the personality you would find in a small rock slide or a waterfall, where rocks might take on that kind of shape.

  2. Shari wb

    Ya i remember writing cobol programs at SMS (dating myself?) and having a blackout before Id saved it. You could just hear the whole hallway groan when the lights went out.

    Those sculptures are cool. Really amazing.

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