Thursday, October 15, 2020

Living Wild

 


This is my valley.  Nobody else lives there.  I've got more than ten acres with three creeks.  I call it the Cloister.

The three creeks leap down the valley among the rocks.  This video is shot on the property.

It's by far my favorite spot.  The noise drowns out all extraneous thoughts.  The pure wildness is majestic.  The streams never get muddy, not in the heaviest rain, because all the land upstream, all the way to the Appalachian Trail, is protected.

And along the main stream, three-quarter mile from home, is this waterfall



It's not on a trail, it's half a mile from the nearest road.  Same for the viewpoint shown as the opening photo.  No road or trail within half a mile.  You have to bushwhack to get there, and few people know about either.  Here's the view of the valley from near the cascade.


It's not exactly the Lauterbrunnen Valley of the Swiss Alps, which is said to be Tolkien's inspiration for Rivendell.


But it's far more peaceful.  Sitting in the woods away from the streams, I do not hear a single sound associated with humanity except the distant drone of the jet planes high above.

I'm not exactly camping.  And at my age (72) that's a good thing.  I have a very comfortable off-grid cabin.  Note particularly the gun rack, and how it has been repurposed.



It doesn't have a wood stove.  The fireplace is wonderful, but horribly inefficient for heat, and I quickly found that I am not willing to spend my retirement days cutting firewood.  I'm hoping to install a top-of-the-line solar system, but that's going to have to wait until COVID is under control.  Right now I'm fully immersed in my isolation and spending time writing and thinking about really big picture issues, such as where mankind is headed.  

And I'm hiking.  As touched on earlier, I'm just 2 1/2 miles from the Appalachian Trail.


Fall color is arriving fast.  The hickory trees at 3000 feet elevation are turning their resplendent yellow, turning a bright sunny fall day into a walk through heaven.


The wood asters are in peak bloom, delicate lavender purple profusion of blooms and the more subtle white.  Sassafras are sharing their oranges, reds, and yellows.  Maples and black gums are contributing their brilliant reds.  I found a stick with a stunning cobalt blue fungus on it.  Never seen anything like this bright color in a fungus.

And here's a moth, equally striking, and also new to me.

Those eye spots are fake.  Be sure to notice the long feathery gray antennae.

I'm loving the fall color change and the crisp bright days.  It's probably my favorite season for being outdoors.  But I'm finding that my body wears out after climbing and descending 2000 vertical feet each day, and then there's not a lot of energy left to fiddle around at the cabin.  Yes, it's becoming clear that I'm too old to fully embrace the dream I had.  With winter coming, and its incessant cold weather and long dark nights, I'm likely to retreat from the wild and back to some on-grid amenities like heat and light, at least from time to time.


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