I’m not sure where that phrase came from, but I wish that was the case last week.
My annual Get Out and Explore day ended up being a short trip up Green Mountain. My nephew Daniel graciously led me up the mountain behind the Stanley Compound on a glorious winter morning. We bushwhacked up through the forest that brought many memories of growing up in Northern Alabama. Very familiar smells and views of rocks, leaves, and trees.
As we went higher, we started following an old logging road, proof that 50 years ago this was income-producing land. Daniel then steered us to the disappearing creek.
This water, starting from a spring, eventually goes underground into the cave-ridden mountain. There is even a vertical shaft, formed by years of water carving a path down, that Daniel and I would love to explore. Know of anyone with a rope, ascenders, and a harness?
We pressed on, with Daniel politely pausing and waiting for his aerobically challenged Uncle. The long days of no running have taken their toll on my aerobic capacity, making me feel much older than I’m used to! We reached the last pitch, a wall of jagged rock.
Daniel found the easy way, yet I had to make this as much of an adventure as I could, so I found a decent pitch and started free climbing. Not too technical, it was that perfect blend of excitement and danger that gets my juices flowing, making me feel much more alive than when I’m in my usual life routine. After making it to the top, I took some time to enjoy the addicting feeling of sheer joy.
Just a little bit more and we were at the top. We enjoyed a gorgeous view, albeit of the encroaching suburbia that is surrounding Huntsville.
The trails of my childhood are gone, stopped by the relentless thirst for space that sees lonely mountain tops as a wonderful place to put a luxury development (http://www.theledges.com/). In my Boy Scout days, I actually helped maintain the Space Walk, a superlative hike from Green Mountain to Monte Sano Mountain. I hiked it one last time after undergrad when it was already stopped short by a new development on Monte Sano. Now it is a mere memory, with roads, houses, and private property occupying most of its old route.
They are trying to protect much of what is left. Our hike dead ends into a land trust, permanently dedicated to wilderness. This gives me a brief reprieve from my taciturn thoughts, and when we’re surprised by a flock of bluebirds, I start to feel better.
You have to look closely at the picture, but Daniel and I think there are least 10 bluebirds in that tree.
We ended with hiking out of the Land Trust to the new road that was blasted across the mountain around 15 years ago. We’re surprised by one last delight before being back into the land of cars, heat, and food from a can.
Somehow the old curmudgeon came out of the climb and hike refreshed by nature and conversations with Daniel. Hanging out with younger folks is definitely the way to feel old while feeling younger. Age before beauty next time, Daniel.