A steep climb among roots and rocks brings me to slow water, where the creek bends and eases before cascading onto the rounded boulders below the trailhead. An eighth mile more, and my dog and I can sit and eat some lunch at the confluence of cold waters and rhododendron.
Secret valleys high in the southern Appalachians are one of the few places I can go that feel raw, unforgiving, and alive. I am here for a few days bivouacking at the base of the mountain.
I ask “Why do I continue to come to these places, of what reasons am I unaware?”
Six coins plus one coin that stretches, a reaper, and a king of Batons who wields power.
Moving away from the trappings of material harmony, I can say goodby to the man of control and force.
These mountains have a rhythm of their own; one does not come here to overpower and dominate. To live outside for a time requires no appointment books or ledgers. You ride the curves of atmosphere. The clouds and wind tell you when to shift position. You don’t exert force to make a grand scheme unfold, you exert force to survive. You read the mountain instead of reading your business.
And then there are the coins. Their order is pushed apart. When routine breeds contempt, the coins reach a breaking point, leaving behind a stale tension which is beyond useful stability.
There comes a time when the man must split ways with control and say his goodbyes. Parting is such sweet sorrow…until we meet again. But tools needn’t be forgotten. The mountain requires resourcefulness, and the King uses his baton in more appropriate ways.
This is when the king sees he is actually the servant of the natural world. Simplicity transforms the ego. Then again, the King with the baton wasn’t even paying attention.