News and Announcements

Interested in learning about blacksmithing? Read this!

--News & Announcements--
Upcoming projects:
Building a Frame Saw
Forging a Copper Kettle
Making a pair of leather work boots
Forging and Fletching a Bodkin
Flocking a drawer interior

Friday, July 4, 2014


Time is a curious thing. Of all the commodities left to the world, I find it to be the strangest. Everyone has it in some capacity or another, the rich and the poor, craftsmen and politicians and teachers and shipwrecked survivors left with nothing but their own thoughts and the howling seas. An hour is an hour is an hour, a year is a year. It matters not the authority or the depth of someone's pockets, the fear or joys or sorrows or anxieties or contemplations. Time will ever flow singularly in one direction, heedless of the humanity that devised its creation. And yet in those moments time seems to change form, hastening or slowing without sense or care. In the bustle of a modern city, time will pass you by if you stop for but a moment to take it all in. In the shimmering exhaust and blaring horns of rush hour traffic, each moment lasts an eternity. At the pyre of a funeral we are suddenly stricken with an undeniable awakening that, after so long celebrating life, those years are suddenly gone when in their passing we never realized that one day, soon to pass or long in the future, it would come to an end. Behind a desk or enslaved to the screen of a computer, years slip by the unwatchful eye. And yet an hour remains an hour, a month remains a month.

But when you step out into the shadow of giants, surrounded by a force of nature that has endured all things, time seems suddenly to stand still. Golden light bathes the forests and the plains, rippling streams and crystal lakes. The bustle of life outside their domain becomes instantaneously forgotten, a new silence deepens, and a tranquillity settles over the land.

Born in the wake of heavy storms, water pours down the mountains towards their unknowing end. There is no rush to meet them, for time is a human invention. Whether today or tomorrow or never at all, nature stays its course and simply is. Motion stimulates motion and in the quiet of the mountains the sounds of creation begin to emerge. A trickle of water or a cascade as it thunders down the sheer slopes, the rustle of the wind across ten thousand leaves, a bird calling to its roost that beyond the brook lies the next meal.

Where thousands of droplets from yesterday's rain meet together, forming a raging torrent, they began alone on the faces of the peaks. Dripping one by one until they gather in a pool, the pools a stream, the streams a river, and the river a waterfall that empties into the clouded abyss. Countless moments pass from when those drops fall to when their last disturbances fade away, each one uniquely wild and unpredictable. In unison or by the hundreds, they drip down from the cool rocks.

On my first trip to the High Peaks, I passed through this same valley on a day much like this. The sky was blue and the trees were green, the water dark and mysterious and clouds painted white. A century could have passed between that day and this, and not a thing could have changed. Such is the nature of the wilds. The rocks will weather the storms, the trees will die and be reborn again. Out in the distance, peaks spot the horizon and they too will endure.

The destination of the day's journey would lead me to the summit of Mount Colden, famed for the trapdyke that splits its face. From the heavy rains, its rocky slide coursed with waters falling from the summit to shatter on shore far below. Through the wooded trails and across the lake, the sound was unmistakable. Like a distant roar the rushing water filled the air, but with a single step around a bend in the trail, silence fell again.

Large and small, the wilds of the mountains never cease to surprise me. Across the rocky path to Mount Colden, I saw a flash of colour on a sundered log. There between the splinters lay the strangest of friends. Away from my footfall it skittered through the undergrowth, blending to the decay of leaves and deadfall.

So heavy were the storms that on more occasions than one, the path was washed away. Bridges or stones, markings along the streams, nature had begun reclaiming its domain.

Instead of taking the common route, we decided to skirt around to the far side of the mountain before making the ascent. Blessed with spectacular views, the road was narrow and treacherous, yet rewarding beyond any others I have climbed.

When the foot trail met the slopes of Colden, everything began to change. Where the trek around the valley had been as level as a mountain path can be, the ascent turned suddenly sheer. Logs and stones washed down by the rain littered the path, forming a channel that guided our way.

More often than not, the ascent to the summit was a climb through waterfalls and fleeting rivers that would disappear mere days after we departed. Turn after turn yielded hope that soon the terrain would flatten again, and with each bend in the trail came another steep view into the mountain heights.

At a false summit decorated by colossal slabs of stone thrown into place by a giant's hands, a view of the world beyond the forest opened up to us.  As far as the eye could see stood lush forests climbing the mountains far better than we. It is moments like these that, after hours of hiking, afford a chance to see what creation looks like when time stands still.

Not long after the false summit, the true height of Colden stood beneath our feet. And in that instant, the clouds carved a heavy path through the heavens. A pale grey mist hung over the peak, obscuring Algonquin and Marcy and Iroquois across the valleys. There in our island in a sea of clouds, I shared a meal with the mountains, thinking of the world I would soon return to and the one I was about to leave behind.

Mount Colden marks my 7th of the 46 High Peaks.

No comments:

Post a Comment