Thursday, August 15, 2013

"The Old Hymn of the Blue Ridge Mountains is Muted"

Obviously, I've been on a writing hiatus. Why? No  reason. I managed to put in 26 miles of running, last week. Second most since the Easter ankle injury. Yes, the injury is healing, but I haven't gone about it in a way that's allowed for it to fully heal. I'd rather run three short runs a week than take three weeks off. That choice is dragging out a full recovery. Enough said.

The lack of writing and running has been filled in with photography, though. I picked up a snazzy new camera. Simple description: faster than a point-and-shoot, smaller than a full frame camera. Also, it's a mirrorless interchangeble lens camera: Canon EOS M. It got some pretty pathetic reviews from professional photographers, and from the internet hipsters that buy nice cameras and apply annoying filters to EVERY photograph. But when I began to really look at what I wanted from a camera it just made sense: it weighs less, cost less, and I can begin to build my lens collection. -The [lens collection] true workhorse of the camera world; and the most expensive.- After all, I truly believe it's the photographer and the photographer's audience that make the difference. Not the camera. As an added bonus, Canon recently released a firmware update that answered the complaints of most of the poor reviews. Winner, Moi. Enough Said.

I'm really starting to fall into the heart of the Pacific-Northwest. But occasionally, while running I get these amazing reminiscent 'rundreams' -daydreams that occur while running.- about the Appalachian Trail. This rundream happened while I was running on Tiger Mtn. on a sun exposed trail and turned into a dense blanket of shade beneath a high canopy of Douglas-fir:

It's early October just north of a small community in North Georgia. The Chestnut Oak, Red Maple, and Sweetgum trees tease the blue sky and 480-million year old Blue Ridge Mountains with hints of red, orange, and yellow. In full decay the tree's colors challenge the dark and often desolate blue hue of the mountains during sunset. The air is stained from months of oven-hot temperatures. Plants wilt with exhaustion and any animals you spot seem to be roaming with sluggish thoughts. It's dawn and the air is saturated with ornery humidity. Slowly the displaced dust thrown into the air from my car's tires begins to bed itself back into parking lot. It's empty. In fact, I've never seen it full. And to describe it as a parking lot is a bit of a stretch.

In truth, the road dead ends into double track trail blocked by two large, decaying stumps and medium sized boulders; I'm also not actually in Georgia. About a 1/2 mile before the end of the road there is a little wooden sign nailed to a tree with carved out letters indicating the North Carolina-Georgia state line. And just before that is the little town of Tate City. Small enough the population sign when you enter the town reads: 19 +/-. I smile every time I pass through. My soul rests easy in the idea of a small town community: neighbors knowing neighbors, farms sharing produce, and poverty and religion going hand-in-hand.

I exit my car and a river of cool mountain air smashes into me. The closer you get to the shore of the flexuous body of swift moving water the less friable the land is beneath your feet. I set out for a jaunt through the Nantahala Wilderness Area to Standing Indian: the highest point on the Appalachian Trail south of the Smokey Mountains...

I trip on a rock and I'm back in Washington, and the old hymn of the Blue Ridge mountains is muted,

"I wish I was in the land of cotton,
Old times they are not forgotten;
Look away! Look away! Look away!..." 
until I dream again.

Me and Holly Dog.