Friday, May 20, 2005

Mountains From Above

As you devoted reader(s) of my blog are aware, it was recently my birthday. I, in a fit of Appalachian Trail nostaligia, printed off pictures of a bunch of AT products and distributed them among family. That's usually as far as my gift suggestions get. But, rather than getting socks and underwear this year, I actually ended up with a bunch of AT loot. My ever-so-thoughtful wife got me a beautifully AT mug crafted by Fictilations Pottery. And a bunch of trinkets that are emblazoned with "I'd rather be hiking the Appalachian Trail." Am I happy because I got a bunch of stuff? Nope, that's not it. I'm not much into stuff. What makes me happy about them is that they're like memory triggers. The truth is, with pretty well everything I do, I would rather be hiking the Appalachian Trail. And remembering that makes me happy because I have hiked the AT and I can look forward to making great memories along the PCT and more trails beyond.

My parents chipped into the nostalgia-thon by getting me the coffeetable book "The Appalachian Trail: An Aerial View" by Mark Warner. It's a really nice book. I was really excited when I pulled off the brown paper wrapping. The one thing that I find a little disappointing is that it
doesn't actually work as well for a memory trigger as the magnet on my desk drawer at work. It's almost too visual. It's a way of seeing the mountains that I haven't experienced. I keep trying to map my memories onto the flattened two dimension image. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The picture of High Point, NJ takes me instantly back to coming around one side of the monument and happening upon a middle-aged couple locked in an embrace that is much more appropriate behind a locked bedroom door than at the foot of a monument to war veterans. But as I look at the picture, I keep flipping back and forth between the image and the memory. Was it really cloudy and cold when we were there or was it sunny like the picture tells me it is? I'm starting to come to an even stronger appreciation for the book though for the very same reason that I find it a bit disappointing. It challenges me to see the mountains in a different way than I am used to thinking about them. So, thanks Mom and Dad.


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