As we approached the last few feet of the Tuckerman’s Trail, at the summit of Mt. Washington. we took the last steps… to what? A parking lot filled with camera toting, Lay’s Potato Chip bag eating, heavy handed, and heavy set “summiteers”.
They had just driven up the highest peak in the land.
And they were taking pictures of us, the hikers, as if we were wildlife…maybe we were.
I’m a native of New Hampshire, and after all these years, had forgotten to avoid the White Mountains in the summer. I’ve been living in other parts of the world and usually come back to New Hampshire during the off seasons. So, when Amanda and I decided to climb to the Northeast’s highest summit on a midweek day last August, I vaguely warned Amanda about a crowded summit. But nothing prepared either of us for the sheer numberof poeple. While I’m the first to share the mountains with others, and gladly give way on the trails, the element of an auto-road raises the stakes of tolerance.
The day started and ended nicely, it was the middle part that was challenging. As we headed up Lion’s Head Trail, we passed a few people here and there. It was Amanda’s first time on a bigger peak in the Northeastern US, and she enjoyed getting a sense of the mountain, feeling the “mountain spirit” which each unique to each mountain. The Inca have a word for it, “Los Apus”, the “Mountain Spirits” which reside in and on every mountain, or in essence, are the mountain. Mountains are either maculine or feminine, and have certain traits, such as strength, or flexability or love, or supporting compassion for example. Amanda was getting a feel for what she felt as the female, but big, loving energy of Mt. Washington, whose indigenous name is *Agiocochook (or Agiochook), and Waumbeket Methna meaning “The place of the Great Spirit”; “The place of the Concealed One.” (and in one other reference also named, Kodaak wadso). (*Referred to by Emerson as well, in his journals).
When one quiets the mind, and tunes into the surrounding natural environment, the place and natural features will speak to one. But because of our incessant need for mind chatter, and our worried lives, we rarely tune into the pulse of nature, as exemplified by our summit experience.
Amanda has been reading Postcards from Ed, a collection of letters and postcards from Edward Abby, which we both highly recommend. Our suggestion, dismantle the road, and the cog railway while they’re at it.
Note: Stay tuned for another post featuring “Ingram’s Law”: A law based on Gresham’s Law of economics, in which Ingram applied the same principles to recreational management in our national and state parks and other public lands.