Wood walking with talking. Sometimes there is no talking. Set out on the trail with high hopes and fresh legs. The trailhead splits often, but the map is our guide. The small group came across old wells, fields, suspicious hikers, and creatures of all sorts. The scenery was sub-tropical. It seemed impossible to them that they where in the southeast region of the United States.
When in the low of the valley, it was cold and dark, like a bad dream. Spiders and snakes, beings with uncountable legs. The remains of a vehicle that had tumbled off the road hundreds of feet above lay scattered about. They were in a sort of underworld. The eeriness of the place was physically perceived.
The group figured they’d overstayed their welcome and knew it better to ascend. At a slow crawl they struggled up the hill, holding onto tree roots and crevices in the rock. Periodic stops to removed their packs and drink water became more frequent as the sweat began to pour. Just when they reached the top of the tree line, and thought themselves victorious, an enormous sandstone face proved the contrary. They’d heard about this ancient place in the guidebook. It looked barely climbable, and they’d come so far.
“So long as you don’t slip, stumble, or have a clumsy moment you wont fall to your death,” the eldest of them reinforced. Occasionally one of the hikers would look down and see that they were hundreds of feet above the tree line. The forest below seemed like it might act as a fluffy green net. Wishful thinking.
The sandstone face they scaled had foothold carved into it going all the way to the top. It is said that an indigenous people made this staircase. It is not a stretch of the imagination that those people worshiped on top of the rock. The view pointed to nothing less than a divine being.
To this point the hikers had walked with great ambition out into the woods. They eventually recognize the backtracking towards the camp will take just as long. After a few more backpack replenishments, they’re on their way again.
Aside from the occasional, “I don’t recognize that,” and “do you remember this tree?” there’s fair confidence in the groups ability to return safety. The last half mile is near running pace in the eagerness to relax in the camp. Hammocks, reading, drawing, music, signify the winding down of the day. They reach their destination and begin evening rituals.
An artist reflects upon his 3 greatest observations of the journey.
1.) One can escape by walking. Oh what a wonderful task it would be to walk day in, day out, only with the goal of a destination. What a tempting procrastination it would be to walk, for years. Food and water, and your body. A good walker could keep this business up and be perfectly contented in service to walking, and observing, and recording. Societies are constructs, to operate outside of these could potentially be a great freedom.
2.) The Scenery of that place is far greater that what can be recorded with a pen. The artist sits to draw the view, or record in the words the great descriptors of the place. He falls miserably short in displaying the glory of the mountain. He becomes speechless in view of the magnificence before him. The artist must accept failure beforehand, if he is to make any honest effort at telling the story of what he sees. He must know that his work will not stand on its own. It is only a reflection.
3.) When comparing himself to greatness of such a place, man will know he is nothing. The origin of the beauty is always a question that comes to mind. Denial of human powerlessness is futile. The walker is a passive spectator, living in something else’s or someone else’s world.
Take a walk in the woods. Take a notebook and some friends. Ask yourself, “Am I a stranger here?” View these places with new eyes.