The dynamism of the mountains
Thrilled at the prospect of a night beneath Mont Blanc, we skulked off the path and made camp amongst a scattering of alder shrub. It was dark, yet the soft radiance of the moon illuminated the snow-drenched crest of the White Mountain with a subtle, sapphire glow. In the low light, she was humble.
When morning came, we unzipped the tent and stared up at the mountain. With the light of day now washed across her contours, her angles were raw, her glaciers bleeding and her atmosphere volatile. What a stark contrast she was from the day previous.
At a glance, the White Mountain is strong and definite. But have no doubt, she has a dynamism that could conquer a storm in the desert and the waves through the sea.
Focus changes everything
I was out walking last autumn. It had been a wet night and puddles dotted the path from verge to verge. A pool of no particular grandeur caught my attention, for little other reason than place and time. I got to my knees and peered into its shallows. Leaves of russet, amber, primrose and hazel lay darkened and still two inches below. I blinked. Silhouetted branches swayed lethargically from shore to shore and clouds, as bold as anything, migrated across the sky. And that is when I realised, focus changes everything.
The pain of a beautiful walk
Rarely do we end our day on the trail without having tripped, stumbled, slipped or fallen at some point during our journey. Indeed, I believe it so that, the more beautiful the walk, the more hazards we encounter. We peer skywards towards the call of a kestrel, tripping on tree roots and slipping in mud, and at our feet we search for wildflowers and unsuspecting bugs, bumping our heads on overhanging oaks. I guess what I am trying to say is, where there is pain, there is beauty; no doubt a consideration worth remembering.
Martha Kennedy – writer, painter and ‘intensive’ traveller – wrote to me recently with a succinct, yet highly rewarding note:
I didn’t even know how to see at all until I hiked the same 3/4 mile uphill trail every day for a year in a landscape that people said, “there’s nothing there.” (Southern California chaparral) Fact is, everything was there and while in a certain sense I hiked the same trail every day, I never hiked the same trail twice.
I hiked in, through, around, over, into the same 5800 acre chaparral wilderness park nearly every day for over twenty years, but it started with one short, hard hike, nearly every day, for a year. I learned that even in the serest summer heat new flowers bloom in the chaparral and after just one good rain mushrooms spring up from ground that has gone from red to moss green. I learned that from the top of a mountain you can might look down on a rainbow and see it is a circle.