Its fast approaching. In about three and a half months, I will be in northern Idaho as a team member of the Hell Hike and Raft crew. A question was posed to us as a group on our Facebook page yesterday, how do we plan on celebrating when we arrive at the highest peak in the Seven Devils range? Honestly, not having given this much thought yet, I let my fellow team members speak up and allowed myself some time to adequately chew on the topic.
A little back ground for you. He Devil as mentioned is the tallest of all the Seven Devils peaks. Rising to 9,393ft, 13 feet higher then She Devil. Keep in mind, I am used to New England and Appalachian mountains. My fav, Monadnock rings in at 3,166. He Devil is also exactly three times that of Monadnock. Even the grand Mt. Washington is 6,289 and that's not even the tallest on the AT. That honor is bestowed upon Clingman's Dome in the GSMNP, at 6,625. Both only stretching to two-thirds of the elevation of He Devil, and you can drive up both Washington and up to Clingman's Dome as well. There are no roads where we are going.
"Where we're going, we don't need roads" Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown
Yes. I just quoted Back to the Future. Get over it!
Back to the issue at hand. What to do when finally achieving over 9,000 feet on the highest peak in my experience? It was discussed amongst some the group members about just taking in the scenery, some documenting the moment, others leaving a token of appreciation for a lost loved one.
Still twenty-four hours later this idea still leaves me perplexed. I think of the many courageous souls who I follow from afar who set off each year in the early spring and then on a magical late summer or early autumn day reach Mt. Katahdin. Some cheer, some have champagne others weep as they simply hold on to the sign, as if letting go of it would kill them. Nothing provides me a more meaningful sense of kinship to these like-minded souls then to see them experience their last moment on the AT after a truly long and epic journey.
While my day has not yet come to address the AT in the way I want to and let my hands grace the sign above Katahdin, I do have another epic journey to share in front of me. I don't think champagne will be on the menu for this journey however I do feel inside me, that emotion will surely be. When I watch the YouTube videos or see the pictures atop Katahdin, especially after following a hiker via their journals, I feel the emotion of that journey with them. When they reach their final summit, honestly I begin to feel my own emotions of my life bubble up as if I was finishing my journey. Will this appear on He Devil? I don't know.
Ironically, the emotion I speak of comes from the unexpected passing of my father five years ago who was a priest. I chuckled a bit, I'll be honest at the thought that a world of emotion can present itself on a mountain called He Devil about a priest. It's okay. Chuckle away.
My dream, is to hike the AT, to immerse my being into the hiker community and live the life of a thru-hiker, reach that sign and let it all go. My dad's dream was to be a priest. And against unbelievable odds he achieved his goal, made his dream a reality and made everyone around him the better for it. He never stopped giving back to his community, and he never forgot the people that helped him get to where he dreamed to be. Some people try and achieve things, some even do. But making your dreams come true, and sharing in your life that is stuff of legends. And boy he was a legend.
So as I think about what will or what happen either organically or premeditated on the highest peak I have ever climbed I know a few things for certain. The old man will be with me each step of the way. He will be proud of my journey and my determination to reach these new heights and I will surely be close to him.
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