Hike the Whites- PICK UP YOUR FEET (Chapter 1)

hikethewhitespart1.png

It has taken me a weekend of herding preschoolers at Vacation Bible School, a cross country plane trip, the view of land and sea from 30,000 ft., and one inspirational book to finally process my hiking trip. The mountains do something to me, for me. Like a mutualistic relationship, they offer an escape and challenge me to turn my fears into courage and confidence. In return they receive respect and reverent awe of their Creator. My Creator, my God. His fingerprints are on every part of these mountains, from the delicate, white petals of the Mountain Sandwort to the sharp, jagged granite boulder fields. Every breath I inhaled and exhaled had me thinking of Him, thanking Him. My prayers were continuous from the moment we arrived, departed, and returned to Pinkham Notch.  Sometimes, those prayers were said with a little more desperation and need than others.

DSC_0033.JPG

We arrived at Joe Dodge Lodge at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center on Monday night. The ride was filled with laughter, stories of our summer trips, and catching up on the details of what has been happening in our lives. A few of us hadn’t seen each other in weeks and one in months. There was a lot to talk about during the three hour trip and not one lull in the conversation. And the weather was good, which made me very happy.

When I put my pack down on the floor of the pine wood “Yellow Birch” room at Joe Dodge Lodge, I was feeling a mixture of anticipation, excitement, and anxiousness. Anticipation for time away, time with God, and a time I knew would change me in some way.  (Exactly in what way or ways, I was not sure.) Excitement because I couldn’t wait to hit the trail, explore the paths, summit new mountains, and to experience new things. And anxiousness because I had heard and read some scary things about the mountains we were about to climb. Including some sobering facts about intense weather and fatality statistics.  What made me the most nervous was the possibility of fast changing and wild weather on Mount Washington and the surrounding mountains. I was worried about hiking over wet, slippery rocks while pushing forwards in high wind speeds.

My mind kept going back to a conversation I had before I left. On Sunday, before we left, I had to pick up a few things at Dick’s Sporting Goods. A very helpful, bearded associate (one who I found in the hunting section and kept talking with for at least 45 minutes+ when I found out he was a survival guide who led hikes through the Whites) enlightened me about a place called “Thunderstorm Junction,” what to do when lightning strikes, and the importance of having a leader who knew what she was doing in the wilderness. The wilderness trails where we might be hiking. “Make sure she has an ax,” he said. “It’s steep,” he said. “Have fun!” he said.  His words combined with what was already in my head had my mind going and imagination running in full gear.

DSC_0027
The Library of Joe Dodge Lodge

 

 

We left our packs in the room to explore the Lodge and headed over to the dining room for dinner. One of the many things I love about staying at a AMC hut or lodge is the food. Breakfast and dinner come with your stay and there is plenty of food and enough choices for everyone. They accommodate special diets and there isn’t a reason to leave the dining room hungry or not satisfied. As we filled our plates and ate our fill, the skies darkened and started rumbling. The rumbling increased and then the skies opened and poured buckets and buckets of water over the lodge and mountains. I tried my best not to let the rain and thoughts of hiking over those wet, slippery rocks take away from my excitement and add to my anxiousness. I put on a brave face but underneath the face my fears of the unknown and my confidence in my abilities was starting to fester and falter.

DSC_0019

Later that night, after I had unpacked and repacked my pack one last time, I sat up in my top bunk listening to the thunderstorms and the rain pouring off the roof. My hiking journal was in my lap and I stared at the empty page. What could I write as my first entry of this trip? What would set the tone for an adventure to read of years later?

I had bought a card and postcard at the lodge’s store and planned to mail them the post office on top of Mount Washington. On those cards, I had already wrote some details of the trip- the name of the room, the food I ate, the overall itinerary of the trip, how I was feeling. General descriptions, surface details but nothing to deep to the heart of the matter. I planned to add the card to my journal when I received it back at home.

When none of my own words came to mind, I choose to write scripture. I copied down passages that spoke to me. Passages I thought I would think about, focus on, and need their comfort throughout the trip. Peace came to me as I wrote the following words.

26 Lift up your eyes on high and see:
    who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
    calling them all by name;
by the greatness of his might
    and because he is strong in power,
    not one is missing.- Isaiah 40:26 (ESV)

Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint. –Isaiah 40:28-31 (ESV)

I read and reread what I wrote and just before I closed my journal and shut off the light, I added a benediction of four words to the bottom of the page. I wrote them in capital letters and marked them with an exclamation mark. This benediction foreshadowed what was to come on the next days’s hike up Mount Washington.

The words were:

PICK UP YOUR FEET! 

 

DSC_0024

White Mountain Hiking Adventure- 2017

hikingmap1.jpg

I’ve packed and unpacked, repacked and repacked again. I think I have everything I want and maybe some things I do not need but I most certainly feel prepared. It feels a little different going into this year’s hike. Last year, was my first time hiking longer than a day trip.  It was an amazing time with four other brave and beautiful friends who scrambled over boulders, hiked miles of trails, bagged 4,000+ ft. peaks, and enjoyed each other’s company and God’s creation.

This year, there are four of us and we are tackling the highest peak in the east- Mount Washington. According to the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) White Mountain Guide, Mount Washington has “a well-earned reputation as the most dangerous small mountain in the world, more than 140 persons have died on its slopes, many of them from exhaustion and exposure to the mountain’s severe and rapidly changeable weather. Storms increase in violence with great rapidity toward the summit.” Sounds fun, right? For some of us, yes. I am excited about this challenge and if I am nervous about anything, it is not physical health or the endurance needed to climb the mountain but the chance of thunderstorms and quickly changing weather (obviously out of our control.) If you think about it,  please pray we have good weather and the storms stay away.

This hike will also take us to 1 AMC lodge, 2 AMC huts (different than last year) and 4 other summits to bag. I have new expectations for this hike and am looking forward to the adventure that awaits. I’ll be taking pictures, journaling and will update my blog when I get back. Until then, the mountains are calling and I must go….

 

To the Tallest Peak and a Step Back in Time

“A mountain has no need for people, but people do need mountains. We go to them for their beauty, for the exhilaration of standing closer to mysterious skies, for the feeling of triumph that comes from having labored to reach a summit.” – Earl Hamner, Jr. (The Waltons)

It is a rare occurrence to find myself without children and without plans. About a month ago, it happened. I had a few hours in between appointments and I had time to kill. A million possibilities crossed my mind but many were not feasible or rooted in reality. (You can’t get to a warm, tropical island and back in a time span of 2 hours. Just saying…)
I was already overcaffeinated, so a coffee shop wasn’t the best choice. The weather was cold and I was not prepared to be outside, so no walk or a hike. I really did not want to spend a lot of money (or be tempted to spend a lot of money), so I needed to stay away from the mall. BUT I was in the mood for some sort of discovery. Then I remembered seeing an ad pop up in my Facebook feed. Something about one of the largest indoor antique stores in Lawrence, MA. It was only 10 minutes from my location.
Mind made up, I turned the car down the road and I pulled into a small parking lot nestled next to a large brick building. It was overshadowed by towering red-brick mills with tall, rounded, brick stacks touching the bright blue sky. I opened the old door of the mill and stepped into a wooden stairwell. It smelled damp and old.  This was a good idea!
There’s something special about entering a place of historical significance. Some people call it nostalgia, but to me it feels more like connectedness. Old places and the items they hold, are windows into time gone by.  They are doors that connect people from past to present. The shadows left behind by people who lived real lives with all the same, real and raw, emotions, struggles and celebrations that we live with now.
The Canal Street Antique Mall is huge. There are floors and floors of furniture and vintage goods tucked in every nook by various owners and dealers. I strolled through the rows of furniture, looked at the spines of aging books, touched woolen clothing and held glitzy, lacy hats over my head. I was looking for something smaller than any of these items. High up on a shelf, bundled in rectangular, plastic boxes, I found them. Hundreds of postcards waiting to be combed through and read.
The front of a postcard is beautiful, but the real treasure is the message on the back. I could spend hours reading each one and that is what I did. I made myself comfortable on the old wooden mill floor and surrounded myself with stacks of sorted cards. I read as many messages as I could. The messages included things about reminding the reader to pick up the sender at train stations, others were asking for visits, many declared their regrets for missing events due to their vacations, and many, MANY addressed the temperamental New England weather-the snow, heat, rain, and cold. (Not much has changed. New Englanders are still always talking about the weather.)
I became attached to two of the postcards (pictured below.) One of the cards shows the White Mountains and an another of an Appalachian Mountain Club hut. Maybe they stood out to me because I had been dreaming about an adventure, the mountains, and hiking. If you followed my hiking trip of 2016,you read about last year’s adventure at the huts. I have been looking forward to a return trip since then.
hike2017hutcard
The hut pictured is the AMC Madison Hut. The Madison Hut was built in 1888. An addition was built in 1907.  I believe the postcard to be dated between these two years. 

 

When I had killed enough time, I decided to purchase these two postcards and be on my way. About two weeks later, in most perfect timing, Fearless Leader, sent out the call for hikers with a proposed plan for a Summer Hike. The route would take us through the White Mountains (peakbagging Mount Washington- the tallest peak in the Northeast) and would involve spending the nights at two huts. The Madison Hut would be one of the huts we would stay at! The very same hut as pictured on the postcard.
Of course, I answered the call with a YES! I will be preparing for my grand summer adventure and looking forward to many smaller and equally exciting ones along the way.  I invite you to come along with me through my blog and follow my trip preparations. (More details of our trip below.) Mountains here I come. You are a place of adventure, beauty, discovery, and a door between past and present. Until then….
Summary of HIKE 2017 by our Fearless Leader:
Adventure waiting to happen!
Motivation to get in shape!
1 new lodge
2 new huts
5 new summits to bag
Consecutive days of fresh mountain air.
No doubt, some laughs!
Many muscles worked.
Amazing views of God’s glory.
Interesting new trail and hut friends
Incredible new memories 🙂