Before the Color Green
“The Green Tunnel” describes a lot of the AT. Views that allow one to see beyond the tunnel are rare enough to be noted maps.
I’ve often expressed a preference for the views hiking in the Rockies, unimpeded for dozens, sometimes hundreds of miles. I still prefer that, but I’m coming to appreciate some things about the Green Tunnel.
To do a NOBO thruhike, we usually start before the green comes along. I started March 21, 2016, with snow on the ground. The rhododendron and pine trees offer some green, but the trees had not started budding, the grasses and flowers were largely dormant. Doing the AT this early, and with the early April cold snap and snow in the Smokies, made the AT a different experience. The views were much better.
But now I find myself longing for the color green:
WARMTH – When the trail blooms and the green tunnel wraps itself around us, it means it is warm again. Heat is a basic necessity for life. And staying in a tent on a mountain in the lower 20s makes life a bit less enjoyable. Green means it is warm.
WATER – One of the rewards I dangle before myself to complete the AT is a 2017 thruhike of the Arizona Trail (AZT) an 800 mile, Mexico to Utah border trail that is largely desert. There is some green on it, but a lot of that is cactus and Joshua tree. While I will probably do a supported thruhike, unsupported thruhikers are constantly investigating where to get water, and carrying a lot of water weight to make it between water sources. Not so on the AT. I usually carry one liter, and resupply at the many streams when I need to. Green means there is water, less worry, less weight.
LIFE – The search for other planets that possibly harbor life reveals how rare the color green is. Chlorophyll is an amazing thing, one of the basic building blocks that makes advanced life possible – oxygen, sunlight to sugars. An amazing development in the evolution of our world is the color green.
I’ll still probably grumble when socked in to the green tunnel, wondering what the view might be through the trees.
But I hope I will also be mindful of the blessings of the color green.
Dave Michel, aka Pitchit
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