The mud and ground felt to me like I was running in cereal.
A familiar crunch and squish…Wheaties that’s what I’m running in!
My mind took me off the trail back to the kitchen table of my childhood. I was staring at the orange box with a handsome Michael Jordan smiling back at me.
“You eat your Wheaties and you’ll be able to fly like him,” my dad would say. I ate a lot of Wheaties, but never ended up with the ability to fly.
Stumbling over a rock, I was jolted back to the trail.
The Wheaties now returned to their real form, small pebbles with a combination of sand and mud beneath my feet. I tried to concentrate on what was up ahead of me to avoid another stumble. My out-toe gait seemed to somehow work out on a trail run, my pace resembling that of a constantly falling duck is easy to adjust to the small obstacles the trail provides; sometimes.
A burning feeling developed in my quads, I glanced down at my legs. They were red and burning not because of use but because of the cold. It was raining and about thirty degrees. I had enough layers on top but decided to let my lower half fend for itself. Having hiked in way worse conditions than cold persistent rain, I knew my legs would soon adjust and start warming up.
I half jumped and ran up a small slope and when my right foot came down I felt the earth cave beneath it. My foot slid and mush seeped in.
Cold, Runny, Playdough...
As my left foot followed, I felt a shot of mud hit the back of my leg. I thought of how wonderful that would look; a brown mud streak below my shorts.
Onward and upward I went sloshing and sliding. Squinting into the rain and fog as I ran further up the trail. The higher I went the harder it became to see as the fog hugged around the mesa. My throat stung with cold air and finally, I stopped.
I turned around feeling a surge of warmth as my body’s momentum began to catch up and heat my core. I surveyed the world below me.
There were no sounds. Not even that of a passing car on the road below. Everything was still besides the movement of the plants bending to the will of what was now sleet falling from the sky. I felt the first chill of a calming but sweaty body and knew it was time to go.
I started my descent careful to avoid slipping in the sludge of ice and cereal-mud. Slowly I came out of the fog and could start to see the little houses and barns below. The earth was dark red and rich looking. I had the urge to scoop up some of it and feel its consistency in my hands but kept running and hopping along.
When I felt complete, I was soaked with rain and a layer of sleet clung to me. My legs were covered in red-brown mud and my feet squished within my shoes. I stretched allowing my momentum to again catch up with my body.
Before going inside our little place in the desert, I raised my cold and burning face to the sky, a grey canvas.
I felt the sleet tap my face and melt, the water rolling into my hair and neck, mixing with sweat.
My mind and body were cleansed.
It was too icky to take pictures out on this trail run, this pic is from a snowy visit to Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Neat Stuffs:
Sharp Top, A Historical Novel by Carolyn Tyree Feagans
How I Came Across This Book:
The source of several excellent books, my good friend Roub had this book from which I borrowed. Roub is native to one the areas that is a large part of Sharp Top’s storyline Bedford, VA and a true lover of the Blue Ridge. Having personally hiked up to Sharp Top’s summit and traveled within its shadow via the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway, just the title alone got my attention.
I didn’t know exactly what to expect from the book. I have read historical novels before and enjoyed most but not all of them. I find that historical novels help me connect with and understand the history they present better than that of any textbook. I have always been interested in the places I visit or pass by; wondering about its history and those who visited the area before. Sharp Top allows the reader to do just that; find out what happened before.
Although some specific characters are fiction, the author Carolyn Tyree Feagans has done an incredible amount of research to bring forth the possible realities of life for the people living in the Blue Ridge Mountains between 1929 and 1946. Feagans puts her characters into historical happenings and common problems of the time and as a result, she is able to show how they deal and adjust to those circumstances, showing emotions that are true and relatable even today.
At first, the novel covers the lives of several characters over the span of several years. This part of the novel I found rather slow-moving at first however, this is probably more a true reflection of the time period of her characters. Life in the Blue Ridge Mountains moved at a slower pace. The people worked hard and lived off the land finding enjoyment within the nature around them and their small community. Feagans takes the first part of the novel to bounce back and forth between various characters allowing the reader insight within various social and economic backgrounds of the time however also weaving in fiction. This allows her character’s lives to all intertwine and also the reader to connect with them in one way or another.
Through the beginning of the novel, a large focus is put on three young children who become a significant part of the entire novel, also providing a budding romance. These three provide a “coming of age aspect” to the novel as the readers follow along while they witness change within themselves and their small mountain community. The reader is allowed an intimate look at the lives of the three children and their families as they try to cope with the Great Depression and the years of challenge it brings to each of them, commonality of the automobile and the roads created to the top of Sharp Top itself, along with the building of the Blue Ridge Parkway by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Each significant event within this time period of the novel (1929-1946) greatly affected those alive at the time and the results of which are still a part of the human experience today.
World War II takes center stage in the second half of the book as the reader continues to follow how each character is affected. The War is presented in a way that will be unavoidably felt by the reader as Feagans has successfully created a relationship by this time in the novel, between her characters and the reader. The Army Air Force B25 Bomber crash on Sharp Top, the surrender of the Bataan Peninsula and following death marches, along with the Invasion Normandy are all presented to the reader in first-person thanks to the incredible research on Feagans’ part. Although these events are again intertwined with fiction, this gives the reader a small understanding and perspective of just how these events affected so many even beyond that of the mountain community; a reality that will never fully be understood unless one lived it.
No matter what the joy or tragedy the characters in Feagans novel face, they always find strength and comfort in their beloved mountains. The Blue Ridge Mountains are already considered old in the timeframe of the novel but yet are still able to be enjoyed and explored today. Although a mix of fiction and history, I found this novel a great depiction of the magic the Blue Ridge Mountains have over some people; no matter how far one travels just like Feagans’ characters the Blue Ridge will always be apart of some.
This novel is a mix of history, romance, and tragedy, which I found pleasurable to read and will no doubt only add to my next experiences in the areas mentioned within. I could not help but feel the love Feagan has for the Blue Ridge and the respect she has for its people and history while reading it.
Feagans’ novel Sharp Top can be purchased via her website here or check it out at your local library!
“You didn’t look this place up before?” I, however already knew the answers.
Darwin, Cruise, and I had driven almost two hours passing back and forth from Arizona to Utah to Arizona again heading to Antelope Canyon. Darwin had been talking about this place and wanting to explore it since he and I arrived in Cane Beds, AZ over a month before. Finally, the day of our visit came. At long last, we emerged from the van to come face to face with big bold font.
“$50.00 per person,” was what the bold text told us.
No bags of any kind were allowed in the canyon, only small cameras, and the canyon could only be visited in groups departing at designated times, via a guided tour through the canyon.
We discussed and grunted amongst our threesome the various options before us.
“We drove all this way, I’m willing to pay it,” I announced.
Cruise was hesitant but seemed willing to pay it as well, Darwin however refused. This place he had always wanted visit was within walking distance but the price was too high and we all returned to the Clydesdale. Whatever awaited us in Antelope Canyon, I will never know. We drove past the coal-fired power plant neighboring the canyon and I watched as the billows of pollution or whatever emerges from such a place, faded behind us. We were now in search of something to make our travel time worthwhile.
Ten minutes later, Darwin pulled off the highway to a small area of open land. With no signs to dissuade us, we began to explore finding a ramp and platform to nowhere, random bits of trash, and lots of ATV tracks. We paid homage to the large rock formations before us as it seemed others had only tried to paint and scar them with letters. We explored the large formations and took in the views they granted us, appreciating their beauty but leaving no trace of our visit.
From there still trying to justify our travel, we stopped off at Glen Canyon Dam. Unable to enjoy the full learning experience at the recreation center due to the current state of our government, we discovered a Scenic View pull off. From the pull off we took in another amazing view and watched the Colorado River flowing far below us. I tried to visualize the crack in the dam made by Earth 1st and play back the words of Edward Abbey trying to find my own conclusions.
Further down the road back again in Utah, we recognized the familiar look of a trailhead. A small hike later we found ourselves among a garden of toadstools (rock toadstools that is). We seemed unable to get enough of these impressive formations as they balanced perfectly holding poses for hundreds if not thousands of years. The more we looked and explored the more we saw. We only later discovered we were actually in part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
With the falling sun reminding us of the aging day, we returned to the Clydesdale and continued on our way back to Cane Beds, AZ. We remarked on our day and how much we would have missed if we had paid the fee for Antelope Canyon. Even Darwin’s initial disappointment had faded with a day full of unexpected sights.
Sometimes the best plans are those never made.
(Random Spot Exploration, Glen Canyon Dam View, Garden of Toadstools)
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Neat Stuffs:
Book Review- Coming Soon!
Congrats to izzylippi who won the signed copy of Mini Misadventures last week!
I have had a bout of writer’s block this week so I started digging through some old notes and blurbs that I had written for some inspiration. In doing so, I came across a few little things which I will fondly call “Van Life Quotes”. These were just randomly written here and there amongst notes and doodles, apparently while Darwin was hiking the PCT. I had forgotten about them and some I don’t even remember writing. I have compiled them for your reading and giggling pleasure. Read On and Enjoy!
There are two pee bottles outside where I parked; they are not mine…Van Life
Doing laundry at a gas station…Van Life
Baby Wipe Bathin…Van Life
Creepin at McDonald’s, Burger King, or a library for WiFi…Van Life
Washing your hair in a public park sink…Van Life
Noticing that people do weird stuff when they don’t realize there is someone in the van parked next to them; lots of nose and butt picking. Observing people in their natural habitat…Van Life
Drinking coffee for WiFi…Van Life
Fantasizing about finding the perfect parking place…Van Life
Hanging out in a park all day just to enjoy a bathroom with a flushing toilet…Van Life
(No Van Is Featured In This Photo, I Just Liked it. Taken At Snow Canyon State Park.)
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Neat Stuffs:
An Informative Post on Self Publishing by Chica & Sunsets check it out here!
What will I write about? What pictures will I show? I find inspiration in nature…I needed to be outside…
As Darwin and I walked along the frozen trail which opened up into a winter wonderland of natural ice sculptures, I found myself trying to take pictures of the things I saw. I tried to memorize the feel of the ripples of the ice-encrusted canyon wall, the sound of the water flowing underneath the frosted ground, the rhythm of the drops from the slowly melting icicles that hung above us, the numbness of my face, watching my breath form and dissipate in front of me, the stillness of the canyon, the crunch of ice giving way under my shoe, all these things that create an experience, a moment in time that I wanted to share.
As I leaned into the frigid canyon wall trying to capture what my eyes were taking in, trying to breathe in the moment and memorize every detail, thoughts began to arise within me…
Maybe when venturing out into the wilds either for minutes, hours, days, or longer, you can’t exactly share the experience. Mother Nature allows you and only you to be apart of the experience. No matter how great my picture is, how well I pair words to describe it, or how well Darwin films it, no one will perfectly have the same experience we did, I did, he did.
Once we felt the need to start our hike back out of the canyon, I still couldn’t shake the disappointment that I hadn’t exactly got the picture I really wanted or the words in my head that I wanted to write. I realized then that maybe I wasn’t meant too. That may be my personal experience would be enough. Although I could share a part of my adventure however great or small, part of it would always stay a secret, a piece that would always be mine and no one else’s.
The point of all these pictures, these words, these videos, is to leave YOUwanting more. The inspiration or desire to experience something for YOURSELF. An appetizer to a meal or the trailer to the movie… There is so much more out there then I can ever tell you or show you and I hope in this New Year, YOUfind out for yourself, just what I mean.
(Water Canyon Frozen)
Things To Expect In Up Coming Blog Posts & Other Recent Stuffs: