“Wilderness is not a luxury but a
necessity of the human spirit,” wrote Edward Abbey. I thought about that as I
finally drifted off to sleep, Monday night in my tent, in the Pine Top
primitive campground. I was backpacking in the
It took us a long time to hike up to
Pine Top. We arrived at the
We didn’t start up the trail until 10:00 AM. I had expected it would take us four hours at most to reach the ridge line but the heat and altitude took its toll and demanded a full six hours. I was so exhausted when I finally got the top and set up my tent that I took an hour nap just to recover. I don’t think I’ve ever spent six hours on my legs under a 60-lbs. pack (24 lbs. was nothing but water). I thought of a definition I read somewhere: Backpacking is an extended form of hiking in which people carry double the amount of gear they need for half the distance they planned to go in twice the time it should take.
Later that night we all sat outside and ate and talked theology and family and history until well past dark. In fact, I didn’t finally go down to sleep until 11:30 PM.
Tuesday morning we took a leisurely
pace to meet at
With full bellies we started hiking
Looking at the
Since we’d exhausted the only trails
left open by the National Park Service, and since it was too hot to sit around
the camp all afternoon, we hiked down to the parking lot. We didn’t get started
down until 2:30 PM; we were on the wrong side of the temperature gradient this
entire trip. We unloaded our packs into
I wish we could’ve made the
And another thing. I’ve been doing this with the guys long enough to know I can’t evaluate an experience right away. The true value of guys-outside-together may not show up for months or even years. I’m OK with that. Men make friends outside, and the more often we get outside together, the better we will be.
One of the glories of my present life is that I am surrounded by good men; they are among the finest men I have ever known. It was a privilege and honor to share the trail with three of my best.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
To learn more about