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Page 2: Instant spiritual renewal, just add mountain

2p2pagetwo.pngSean Flynn. Managing Editor



I dislike gyms. One of my favorite parts of journalism is that the job demands you get out of the office, see new things, and occasionally soak up some sunlight. This is the exact opposite of a gym, which is completely indoors, demands ‘reps,’ and is notoriously short on sunlight.

So when my girlfriend (who was feeling shut in after an endless winter) and I decided to get back in shape, we picked hiking.

Wiser people might have waited until it was above freezing, but we had Gumption, by god, and that plus a good coat is all you ever need.

We thought we’d take on an easy trek to start. So we filled our Nalgenes and headed out to Shingleton Gap.

A hiking map favored by the locals warns that there are no easy trails in the Rothrock State Forest. Wiser people might have listened to the map, but maps are for people without Gumption and Resolve.

Before we even got out of the parking lot, we were warned off by a woman who was abandoning her attempt.

“The trail is pretty icy,” she said as she bolted for her car. We thanked her and completely disregarded her warning. Gumption shall overcome.

We expected some frost on the edges of the trail. Instead, what we got was an inch-thick ice rink in the shape of a trail that extended for miles.

The next two hours were a painful exercise in frustration. The parts of the trail that weren’t made of ice were made of pointy rocks, and the parts that weren’t pointy rocks led directly into the frigid waters of the Roaring Run creek.

We met a woman trying to inch her way off the trail in the other direction. Her discombobulated Labrador retriever slid down the ice after her.

Wiser people might’ve taken a cue from the dog and turned around, but not us. Gumption got us here, and it would eventually lead us out.

We finally found a side trail that wasn’t covered in ice. It was hundreds of feet of largely vertical hiking. Gumption and Resolve disappeared halfway up the ridge, but turning back just meant more ice, and I wanted to stall that unhappy thought as long as I could.

But when we got to the top of that ridge, we forgot the misery of the icy valley.

The ridgetop was peaceful in a way that is simply unattainable in the city. We basked in the silence that washes over you when you’ve left traffic miles behind. The cares of the world vanished. We were refreshed, renewed, and only slightly bruised.

The way back was worse than the way up: icy and full of rocks, and we were even more prone to slipping and falling going downhill.

But it didn’t matter. We were too busy planning the next hike to worry.

Hopefully it’ll be warmer.



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