Pigs on the Wing Pt. 2, Pink Floyd
You know that I care what happens to you,
and I know that you care for me,
so I don't feel alone,
or the weight of the stone...
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
Last weekend I purchased a 1987 Raleigh Kodiak touring bicycle off of the Asheville Craigslist. I found the bike to be in great shape and decided to buy it instead of a new bike. It's definitely rad to reuse something. Besides, the eighties have produced some seriously good products: the falcon, this bike, and ahem, myself (among other awesome things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Lily and I plan to bike the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway south from my ten year high school reunion in Pottstown, PA this June. Exciting times. After our halfday today, we biked 25 miles around the western end of Lake James from town. We're easing into this cycling business. I'm fine tuning some homemade saddlebags for our journey and hoping to overcome the steep learning curve in bicycle mechanics.
Spring is here and we're already drinking our snickers. I got a call from Scott B. yesterday who shares similar concerns about the looming BMT fastpack. Thinking of it in terms of ten back-to-back ALTARs doesn't really make me feel any better. Sure I'm fat and out of shape, but I'm still gonna enjoy my snickers and black mocha stouts.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Today, MEC Earth and Environmental Science students celebrated life on Earth outside on a sunny and beautiful springtime Wednesday. But first they had a “chalk talk,” which is a silent discussion on the board in response to a couple wonderful Orion articles.
As we wrap up the year, I’ve been learning about something I guess I never really knew too much about: how others learn. For instance, I used to think as a teacher that I had to slow down to emphasize the importance of a point… That can work, but the way humans process information is constantly changing, especially in the 21st century. So much is changing, and quickly too.
Thanks to Lily, I’ve got many wonderful resources to relay to these young minds. I smile when I think about how these ninth graders are learning (and they are learning!) about things I did not know about until college. There’s so much that we need to understand about our planet. Primary point: human activity is causing a life-threatening climate change.
How much information is too much information? I don’t know the answer. All I know is that a ninth grader’s mind moves a lot faster than mine. So no, don’t slow down. Heck, we only have a few weeks left! And who even knows if MEC will survive NC’s devastating k-12 budget cuts? Power to the educators!
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Wednesday and Thursday’s exercises involved an overnighter into Linville Gorge. Each day was circa 20 miles, not quite a ferocious fastpack, but given the terrain, something of a workout. Good carbon credentials: within 25 minutes, U-dog and I were at our trailhead.
With a lazy afternoon start, we trotted down FS117 and a blue-blaze to Linville River Trail. After a few miles, we put on the brakes for an oskar blues brew to enjoy along the river. Their gordon may win my beer of the year for sustainability, portability and sheer tastiness.
Feeling just about right, we continued upstream to the Pinch-In. This is a trail I’ve been itching to ascend since September. A steep burnt-out buttress provides continuous panoramas for over a mile and a half.
Our pace accelerated on the Kistler Memorial Highway, a joyous crushed gravel ridgeline road. We passed three cars for the seven miles we traveled along it to get to the Babel Tower Trail. Along the way, we took the side-trip to check out Wiseman’s View.
Lingering snow on our descent to the river reinforced the wisdom of a G2G bail. With a reddening sky, the jumble of rock spires blended into an incoherent jigsaw against the far gorgeous wall. It was time to put on the wind shirt, find water and camp.
We traveled a ways downstream before we could find a level campsite. My intention to ascend Devils Hole Trail was thwarted by a daunting ford of the river. We set our sights on Spence Ridge and soon came to a nice site.
There was enough daylight to set up camp, collect firewood, cook dinner and peruse tomorrow’s opportunities on the map. The full moonrise above Hawksbill was incredible! But soon clouds moved in and it started to rain.
Fortunately there was just enough room for dude and dog under my “hundred dollar trash bag.”
Morning came. Using her tractor beam eyes, Uwharrie got me to share some breakfast. We powered up for our ascent of Hawksbill.
This is the view atop Hawksbill looking down the gorge. From here, we continued south along the East Rim, tagging the summit of Table Rock en route to Shortoff.
I found myself wanting to pull an Annette Bednosky over the Chimneys. Although my pack is as light as it’s ever been, I’m not quite that nimble. In fact, I was content to walk most of the way out of the Gorge. This is a remarkable place. I’m thankful it’s so close!
Monday, April 06, 2009
Dying against the machine
The whole thing leaves
You a nothing instead of a these
The sun is black and the black halos fly
And your number is backwards again when you try
-Flaming Lips, Transmissions from the Satellite Heart
Well, I called it quits on the G2G surprisingly early. My head just didn’t seem to be in the game. Too many unchecked variables: untested gear, DWRed limp lumps of down in the sleeping bag, a looming, nearly unbelievable forecast of snow, daunting 40+ mile days…
All of these factors were messing with my mind. But none can compare to the realization that after ten long weeks of teaching non-stop, I had voluntarily enlisted myself as a time slave over spring break. I’d scheduled a rendezvous on day 2 with Adam and Graham of BRO, which assumed I could make the miles without the slightest of delays.
This would be no problem a year ago: back then, if my mind wasn’t in the game, at least my body could pick up the slack with six months of solid training. Nowadays, when the doubts begin to creep, it’s over. And today, I doubted that I really wanted to be on the clock when, after long last, I didn’t have to be.
So in summary: Lily and I camped out on Shortoff Saturday night. We explored a route to the base of the wall down a steep ravine. It was wonderful (see photos). I left at 7:30 Sunday morning solo on the familiar 19 mile portion of MST west over Pinnacle and Bald Knob to meet her at Woodlawn by noon to pick up Uwharrie (in an effort to save the dog from some early wear and tear on her paws) for the remaining 130+ miles of the trek.
From the moment I took off down the mountain, I didn’t feel quite right about things. The Linville River was higher than I’ve ever seen it. The cold water stung high up my thigh during the ford, which reminded me of the weather to come, which reminded me of how pathetically inadequate my sleeping bag looked. A four-hour topographical and emotional rollercoaster ride finally brought me to Woodlawn.
According to my itinerary, I wasn’t even halfway for the day when I reached Woodlawn. Lily and Uwharrie were there with some unexpected treats: fresh salad, bread and grapefruit juice. We had ourselves a picnic for about an hour, longer than I should have stuck around, but the weather was nice and sunny for lounging. And for crying out loud, it’s spring break, did I really need to be in such a hurry?
When I decided to bag it, I left the pack with Lily as she read her book and ran Uwharrie down to Toms Creek and back. (We’ve noticed that Uwharrie can get grumpy if she doesn’t get her run on too.) Now that the sun had warmed the day, we eagerly partook of a dip in creek before turning our back to the unknown adventures over the high ridges beyond...