Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas from the Top of the Mountain

Susan and me with our Mountain Tree, atop Tinker on the Appalachian Trail.
Susan walking the trail.
The hike has become something of a tradition with me, since my friend Leah Weiss and I hiked up Crabtree Falls on Christmas morning a couple of years ago. This year, my partner was my good friend Susan, who jumped at the idea of hiking up Tinker Mountain, overlooking Carvins Cove, where we spent so much time kayaking in the summer.

Her idea added a new twist: we would take some Christmas tree decorations with us and find a spot on the top--overlooking the Cove--and decorate a pine. It occurred to us after a while that we couldn't simply leave the tree decorated because of the impact on a pristine area--although we truly wanted to--so we fell on the idea of decorating, photographing, undecorating and packing out. That's the way it worked.

Me taking a break.
Susan wanted to leave a Christmas gift (a gift certificate for a meal at a local restaurant) in a red envelope on the tree, but that would also be litter, so we determined that if we came across a through hiker, she'd get the certificate. But we didn't and that was unexpected. I generally run into quite a few hikers on my Christmas excursions. So we packed everything out.

But the Christmas gurus were on our side. On the way down the mountain, we ran into a pleasant young woman named Carolina, stopped her and presented her with our Christmas goodie. She was genuinely pleased, which pleased us.

Susan and Carolina with the gift certificate.
The hike, which is pretty strenuous on the way up, was pleasant and Susan shot some truly extraordinary landscapes, which I'm hoping she will frame and sell.

It was another dandy celebration of something worth celebration: the birth of a man called the "Prince of Peace." I'm not a Christian, but I appreciate Christ and his intentions. Would that we all honored them all the time.

Susan's nature shots are sometimes emotional.
Pampa shoots, too.
Susan in panorama overlooking one of our favorite places.
That smile will melt you.
Boob plant? Eh, maybe.
This rock had a hole in it.
I like Susan's "watercolor" a lot.
Susan loves the rocks.
Pampa finds them a challenge.
Susan's enthusiasm for our project was boundless.
Ho! Ho! And might I add, ho!
Co-conspirators on a mountain top. Merry Christmas to those of you who spent the day  conventionally.

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