It's been a while since I shared my hikes up the mountain online. In fact, I have been more or less silent online for a time. My publishing (online and off) so absorbed me that I got much too disconnected from the mountain (as itself, and as symbol of my inner self).
During this online silence, I have been very much in communication with the mountain--trying to return to the core of my nature, where the writing comes from, to that place that produced Sacred Vow. About every couple of weeks I visit the mountain. It has become a 10-14 hour, (more or less) non-stop walk up, across, over, around, and back from the Black Mountain Range (NC, US). In that time, I cover about 25-35 physical miles, many facets of myself, many planes of my existence, and commune with whatever inhabitants of the mountain that will visit with me.
The next book (Strike a Chord of Silence) is about to come to press.
And the next novel is roiling within, demanding that I find time to let it come out into the light. All considered, I am easing online again--Online communication is also something that is pushing me to find time for it.
My walks (as my writing) are my spiritual practice (Your daily life is your temple and your religion. --Kahlil Gibran). They have great value just in the beauty that I see, spending all that time in nature, but I also tend to believe that you blend/become one with anyone/anything that you spend time with. It is my honor and blessings to share the nature of these mystical mountains.
At the end of most of my walks--though exhausted--I tend to have a predominant sensation of an altered, elevated state. This effect remains, becoming lesser every day after the hike, for two to three weeks. Now and again I initially leave the mountain with a completely contrary state of mind. But as we all know, all things beneficial do not not necessarily come easily.
I tend to like to focus my walks primarily on the eastern side of the Blacks. I also like to start from one place (White Oak Creek Rd) and only take walks that I can achieve by starting at that point (as soon as there is light enough to see in the woods) and returning that point before dark.
Today I decided to walk to to Rock Creek (along the Locust Creek fire road, up some logging roads to Colbert's Creek Ridge trail, down to the trail head, over Colbert's Creek Road to and across Rock Creek Road, until the Forrest Service Road that runs alongside of Rock Creek). Then the intention was to rock hop up the creek until I had to bushwhack to Mt. Mitchell.
It took me 4 hours of preliminary hiking to get to the start of my intended exploration (above). Part of that was due to the time it took to get around the Free Range PitBull Farm that I stumbled onto while walking the paved road making a connection between the Colbert's Ridge Trail and Rock Creek. For a while I stood still, keeping eye contact with the dogs as they charged out into the road. After a while, I tried moving slowly backward away from them. But one tried to circle around me and another got increasingly aggressive as I moved away.
Eventually I was able to back them off, made my way away from them and dropped into the woods/creek that ran in on the other side of the paved road. Warily I moved by the PitBull Farm and onto my destination.
Once on Rock Creek, it was a beautiful walk/climb, though often very demanding. Creeks often have large, slick stretches of rock faces covered with moss and water, making it impossible to stay on the creek. This creek had several, sometimes rising hundreds of feet. Such areas force me into the laurels and rhododendrons along the sides of the creek--laurel hells, I was once told "stay out of them!"
When I walk, it is pretty much non-stop except to retie my shoes or restock my nutrition pouches on the pack. This started out as something to care for my heart (avoiding heart valve replacement 9 years now), but has become something more like a mystical practice. I just keep moving forward, taking in the beauty, communing with all the forest's spirit(s).