On Saturday, Josh B, Aaron & Brenna, Josh C, Natalie, Marshall and I got off I-40 at exit 7, drove up the long gravel road, and made it up to Max Patch in time to see the sun go down, dragging its sheerish train of flame behind it, behind the peaks.  The moon rose early, dimming all but a few stars & throwing shockingly black shadows behind us on the grass.  It didn’t freeze that night but the wind woke us up off and on, rattling our tents with those short gusts that roll across the hilltops.  Josh C slept under the stars and seemed none the worse for wear the next morning, when he was (of course) the first one up, chopping wood, getting the fire going, making the first french press of coffee.  He is an Eagle Scout after all.  (I’m so proud.)  I think everyone needed this — the silence, the fall colors flushing deep across the mountainsides, the long grassy slopes and the Appalachians for miles and miles, all around.

Sometime after breakfast Marshall and I set off down the summit loop trail, two miles down the hill, through brushy wildflowers and crimson sumac, golden beeches, red and yellow maples, oaks, poplars, thickets of purple stickers and clematis gone to seed, and back up through a high-ceilinged poplar and maple forest filled with chipmunks.  When Marshall and I were here by ourselves a couple weekends ago, we slept on the bald and then left fairly early the next morning, so we didn’t have time to take this walk — what a fabulous thing to be able to go down, this time.  I’m more determined than ever to hike the entire AT, now.  Even if it takes my whole life.  And I’m now daydreaming about Gear.  What I would get if someone gave me a thousand bucks.  (Sleeping bag, thermal unders, wool socks, heavy-duty pack, dutch oven.)

Side Note: I’m completely aggrieved that I didn’t have the funds to take a roll of film.  It deserved it.  And that has as much to do with these dear friends & their cute morning faces as it does the majesty of this part of the country.  Maybe Natalie will put up some of her photos.  If so, I will appropriate them.

Now I’m home, wearing pajama pants because my jeans smell strongly of woodsmoke & Hebrew Nationals, wondering what the week will hold.  Maybe some new jeans.  I’ve been thinking about money and work, lately, how my hours were cut drastically several months ago and I haven’t looked for another job.  I’m working two part-time jobs, now, not far from minimum wage and far from full-time.  Is this a problem?  I’m supporting myself fine, just not saving money, and I can’t figure out if that’s ok or not.  I know each time of life has its own set of rules and responsibilities — now may not be the time for me to focus on money-making, since my jobs are all opportunities for me to serve & love.  I’m about to decide that if it’s time for something to change, God will somehow mysteriously bring that about.

I’m so mystified by all thoughts of the future, in this moment.  I’m as sure as I am about anything that I will be in mountains.  I will be with Marshall.  I will write sentences full of words, I will write my hand all knotted and gnarled by the end.  I will know my family and keep up with several friends, the truest ones.  That’s about all I know.  And I know I don’t know anything, but if I know anything — I know those things.

And I get to visit KG again.  Lord God in heaven.  How rich am I.