Entries For: November 2011
Yes, it was an inspirational story and the main character, Martin Sheen, changed, as he was supposed to, in a story about a journey. But it was also a realistic hiking story.
Tom, the Martin Sheen character, is a 60+ year-old doctor who has obviously never done anything physical in his adult life, except play golf using a golf cart.
Yet, once he decides to walk the El Camino, he does it. He meets three other pilgrims, as walkers on the El Camino are called, much younger than him. My favorite companion is Joost, a Dutchman with great kindness and humor. He's the one I'd want with me on my hike.
Yet, Tom, (Martin Sheen) doesn't drag behind them; in fact he leads the pack because he is determined - I don't want to give away too much of the story. There are no jokes or incidents where he plays the old man. The reality of hiking is that age has little to do with it. What matters is how fit and how motivated you are to walk.
The second thing in the movie's favor is that not everyone changes. There is so much emphasis on long-distance walking or hiking being life changing that it's a pleasure to see that people stay basically who they are.
If you plan a long-distance hike to change your life, you may be disappointed. Sometimes, no, most of the time, a hike is just a hike. Enjoy it!
This is a great but a quiet movie. It's the kind of movie that can only be marketed by word of mouth. And that's what I'm doing.
The Shut-In race on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will be held on Saturday Nov. 5, starting at 10 am. It's always on the first Saturday in November.
It's an 18 miles run from the North Carolina Arboretum near Asheville, NC to the trailhead for the Mt. Pisgah summit.
The race travels along the portion of the Mountains to Sea Trail known as "The Shut-In Trail". The trail was originally an access trail for George Vanderbilt to reach his hunting lodge on top of Mt. Pisgah. You can expect about 3,000 feet of elevation gain, very technical single track and virtually un-runnable climbs in many places.
So if you're planning to hike on the MST tomorrow, be prepared to see runners whizzing by.
For me, hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail was not just a hiking experience but a different way to see my state. I learned about it in ways that I could never do from a book or course.
Of course, I read several North Carolina history books as I was walking the trail but I learned so much more as I dug in deeper. And I still do.
I am writing a proposal for a photographic essay book on the MST. Besides photos, it will have several essays on the unusual, interesting, and quirky things that I found on the trail.
I've been familiar with the Cone story for a while.
Moses H. Cone, son of an immigrant, becomes the denim king and builds Flat Top Manor outside of Blowing Rock. His money funded Cone Health System in Greensboro.
But as I dig deeper, I learn that the manor, park and hospital are only part of it. His money also funded art museum.
His socialite sisters, Claribel and Etta, built up an art collection of Picasso, Matisse and other early 20th century artists that are now worth millions. Most of their collection ended up at the Baltimore Museum of Art. But here's the exciting part for me - not all of it.
Some of this art collection is right here at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. The Weatherspoon Art Museum has a Claribel and Etta Cone Collection with Matisse and Picassos. The university got this collection in 1949. Could you imagine the excitement when this small women's college received all those pieces?
I'm going to check out this museum, the next time I'm traveling east. I always knew that hiking was educational and cultural.
Friends of the Smokies is now offering regular monthly hikes in the North Carolina part of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The hikes started small - maybe five or six people - but now we are generating a waiting list.
When Friends announced the Road to Nowhere hike from the Lake View Tunnel, they were mobbed by members who want to go. Where is this place? I've heard so much about it.
It was the longest hike we had planned, almost 10 miles, but obviously members thought it was worth the effort.
We started at the end of Lake View Road out of Bryson City on the Lake Shore Trail and followed the hike, as described in Hiking the Carolina Mountains, pg. 247.
It was a beautiful, sunny day. We had lunch on a bridge above Forney Creek. I explained the North Shore Road issue, as we went along. At each stop, I fed hikers a little more of the story.
But mostly we enjoyed each other's company and the last of the tree color.
Then we turned off Lake Shore Trail to go up to the Woody Cemetery. (That's not in my book.) The picture of the group is at the cemetery. There's only one Woody buried in the cemetery so why is it called, the Woody Cemetery?
Steve Woody, a descendant of a family who lived in the park, was with us but he had no idea. His family came from Cataloochee. We got out of the woods at about 4 P.M. and stopped in Bryson City for a hot drink.
The next Friends of the Smokies hike will be on Tuesday December 6. It will be the shortest hike that I've led so far. So call the North Carolina Friends office and sign up - 828-452-0720. I hope to see you on the trail.
More details on the hike later but it will be good.