The View From Above

“This is TERRIFYING OH MY GOD,”

exclaimed Pineapple from above as we climbed the first rickety fire tower in the Smoky’s. We were going up for the cool view. The first flight’s side handle had been blown off. The tower itself was shaking. Pineapple was slowly climbing the thing on all fours.

“Aw c’mon, it’s fine, this is fun!” I said through laughter. Heights excite me, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for everyone. Still, he was up there with me, so the complaints and shrieks of terror were a necessary side dish to the experience.

What awaited us at the top was equally exhilarating and frightening. I can tell you with confidence, though, standing atop rotting plywood encased in a rusty box is absolutely worth the view. 

View of the Smokey Mountains

Why go so high?

We’re already on mountains, for cryin’ out loud! We’re hiking, we’re pushing ourselves to complete daring feats. Why go the extra mile (sometimes literally – towers are not always on the trail) to climb some death contraption in the middle of the woods?

A week before this adventure started, my cousin was talking to me about how people in New York City go out with each other to see their “views.” You want an apartment or an office with mad “views” of the city. This is, apparently, a point on which to judge one another.

I don’t know. That’s the way I took it.

Alright let’s rewind, because there’s a connection here. Hiking is really strenuous. It takes a lot out of you. 10 miles with a pack the size of a first grader? That’s exhausting! Plus you probably have another 3-5 miles to go before you find a campsite. It’s hard work.

Yet here I am, dropping pack and darting up the staircase of a tower followed by comments like:

“Oh! Woah! There’s something you don’t see too often: energy!”

“Woah, Wayne, if your knees are hurting you should probably not sprint up the stairs.”

NO, LET’S GO!


Boom shaka-laka! Look at THAT! If people in NYC want a view, I dunno what they’re doing in the concrete jungle. Ok, I take that back. But still, look at this! Look at what nature can do without us!

The View From Above

You just worked hard to get up some massive hill. You’ve been climbing hills all day – nay, all WEEK. That shit is not easy.

Relish in this moment, my loves, because this is all you. You got yourself up here. You did this to yourself and it’s a damn beautiful thing.

Sure, you may be a little afraid of heights. But even a trembling Gears and Walkamole have seen their share of dope views from fire towers and so on.

My favorite parts of the hike have been from massive viewpoints.

View from Camerer Mountain
This world is such a beautiful place. And to get to see all of that at once?

For the first time I’m really wondering what’s going on down there. You can feel all the absence, and then you wonder about humanity. Where are we in all this? What IS in all this?

One super disorienting thing is looking out at the mountains you just came from, or looking to the mountains you’re going to. Where’s Springer? Where’s anything? How far HAVE you walked?

View from Clingman's Dome
The questions of the deep blue mountains. Yet it feels so exquisitely unique to be alive here. No words can completely describe the profundity of the surroundings along the Appalachian Trail. Pictures hardly do it justice.

That’s why I get high out here. There’s no need for drugs, for distractions, for downers when you got the mountains and the towers.

And together we’ll go, my sweet love, into the deep blue. 

XoWAYNE

 

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