05 December 2013

Mt Tammany, I love you.

Just returned from the poconos. Had fun, save for my knees giving out on my on the way down Mt Tammany. Must do something about the knees. That was the best trail I've hiked in a while. The view at the top was breathtaking. There was a view of the river below and it's unique curvature that one could only appreciate from a height level with the sky. Along the way, I saw a waterfall, many trees, and traversed through many rocks, large and small. I sang 'Oh Holy Night' on the way up, talked in a foreign accent on the way down, and sang some Beatle tunes as well. I'm cool like that.

There was also a segment where my dad forged far ahead. It started out funny, given that my dad tends to proceed ahead when he's enjoying the trail. We joke about it. He can't help but speed off in the distance. However, he'll inevitably reappear, either when we call him or he'll stop on his own and trace back to ensure my mom and I are on the right path. This time however, my mom and I walked for quite a while and hadn't seen him. We looked for his orange hat but couldn't locate that or any other visual that would give away his presence in the distance. My mom then called to him. We both figured this would solicit a quick response and he'd respond and circle back within moments. He didn't respond. At first I joked with my mom about it and assured her that he was just up ahead. However, when she continued to call him without response, and I joined in, also to no avail, it became worrisome. Adding to the worry was the lack of response to our calling out to him and not seeing him, despite the fact that we were gaining ground.

My mom put the scare in me even further by surveying the ground below in search of my dad's belongings. This really freaked me out. It was like a movie where you head out with a group and one of the group members, though in the distance ahead for quite sometime, and easily spotted with the orange attire (to stave off hunters), is all of a sudden nowhere to be found and you fear the worst, that an animal was the culprit, or that he got lost. I started to contemplate how earlier in the hike I had joked about it being like a movie, where it's quiet before the storm. He ended up being by the waterfall around the bend after we made our way down a steep side of the mountain, taking photos. He had not been able to hear us given that the bend had blocked off the sound of our calls. We then laughed about the fact that there he was, in all his photo-taking glory, mesmerized by the waterfall of which he attempted to capture in panoramic view, oblivious to the fear his absence had instilled for a good fifteen minutes prior.

Safe to say, it was a fun hiking experience. I found peace and comfort in the crowd of age old trees that conveyed with their mere presence: 'we've seen it all, we've been around a long time, experienced much, and we're here to tell you everything's gonna be okay, just breathe.' There were trees of all sizes and ages packed throughout the trail, conjuring images of my ancestors walking by these trees. I envisioned possibly walking past those very trees in a past life myself. I wondered what it was like for others who came before me, what it might have been like if I had been here before, what kind of worries confounded me then. Were those other people battling some internal wreckage? Was I in my past life free of the worries that presently afflict me?

On a lighter note, for the first time, I actually felt eager to spot a bear or a rattlesnake or deer. Some sign of living, breathing wildlife aside from the beautiful trees. We took the red trail up and the blue trail down the mountain. Highly recommended. At the bottom of the blue trail, a sign read something like: 'Rattlesnakes and Copperheads: These creatures are a natural element in the background and therefore you may encounter them. Will not attack. However, if cornered, will defend themselves and fight back.' It was more metaphorical and better worded than I can recall, but it brought to mind humans, the quiet, unappreciated kind. 'The Humble Ones: Make up a natural part of this environment we occupy. They sit back and innocently observe their surroundings. Be sure to respect and admire them. Will attack if cornered.' Same idea. Snakes, humans, intrinsically alike despite the obvious external differences. Same message: thou shall not misconstrue humility and quietude for weakness. The sign conjured a vision of several high school boys huddled together, getting their kicks by harassing and mocking the creature, the snake getting the last laugh by swiveling around their shoes towards their necks and putting them in their place by threatening the choke hold, yet ultimately granting them mercy, and deciding not to effectuate the maneuver, instead letting go without inflicting any damage, the kids left shocked at its ability to enact comeuppance upon its bullies.

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