The Skyline Trail – Part 1

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The Skyline Trail (via Wikipedia, via Trailpeaks, in Men’s Journal, and of course via the Official Site,) is one of the most exhilarating walks I’ve ever taken. It’s definitely the longest, in terms of 2 day treks.

For whatever reason, my little Nikon Coolpix was not having any more of this wild photo spree I was on, and inconveniently stopped storing photos in my camera card. And, in the short time frame I had to deal with the situation, I just ended up ceding all photo ops to Fr. Jimmy, who usually does a very good job with photos. So… these are all his doing! My only contribution is to over-process them with editing software, as per usual.

But here we are, at the beginning! Isn’t it grand and glorious? It’s going to be a long, long walk before we see a sign resembling this again, and by the time we get there, I will want to kiss it.

And yes, the sad truth is, that I do go out looking like this in public. Every now and then my hiking chic comes together with haphazard savvy, sadly, this trip is not one of those times.

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All of Jasper National Park is a mycologist’s dream, and this trail is not one to let you down in the fungi department. Aren’t these attractive?

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Fr. Jimmy (who took all of these photos…) has a thing for driftwood. The difference between us is, that I will post these either on Facebook or here on my website, and he will make beautiful prints to hang on his Rectory wall. I’m just starting to delve into prints… one only has so much time in the day.

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Not that there’s any driftwood on the Skyline Trail way up at the ridge line, of course! But there are lots of dead trees which provide the same sort of, strangely attractive, dried wood shapes. I actually don’t find anything strangely attractive about this formation, but it does have an unusual beauty.

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Before you know it, you’ve climbed out of the woods and up onto the ridge, where you’ll be walking for another 20 miles or so. And those 20 miles are, indeed, splendid. (Which is of course a very good thing, as that is a very long way to be walking.)

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Usually when I take pictures while traveling with Fr. Jimmy, I end up with a lot of extraneous photos of him. So it was interesting to note that he ended up with a lot of extraneous photos of me. Here, he had asked to take a shot, and while I was still getting my usual death-grip-for-photos on my walking sticks, he snapped away. Alas. That will teach me to rely on walking sticks for everything.

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The majority of the trail is a wonderland of alpine flora and fauna. I felt that I rushed through the first day, in a quest for mileage. Yet on the second day I decided to relax and take my own pace, and just take it all in. It’s mostly easy walking, so that’s the better bet for the entire route, in retrospect.

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Every moment, in every direction… splendid views of wondrous things.

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And speaking of splendid views… a self-timed shot. Interesting that Fr. Jimmy looks taller than me. But thankfully I’ve had time to get the death grip on my walking sticks again, in my dowdy hiking ensemble.

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More stunning scenery…

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And more….

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Yea more…. there was a group of German tourists who were ahead of us on the trail; tall and sturdy, I felt right at home amongst them. While they started ahead of us, we eventually passed them up, and were both somewhat thankful for that, as some of the people in the group were in their 70’s, and it would have been a real ego deflator to have not had a better pace than them. This resulted in me just wanting to set a good pace the first day, and then not caring the second day when I decided just to do my own thing. (I ended up finishing first by the way… it always pays to trust your heart, and to pace yourself propery.)

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More scenery… more miles… I had come into this with the understanding we were walking about 24 miles in two days. At some point on the way up to the ridge, one of our newfound compadres gave me the impression that the entire hike was about 12 miles, and that we were walking about 6 miles today. I had an unexpected surge forward at that news, until I realized a few hours later that we were indeed doing about 12 miles a day. As endless as it seemed, it was fun.

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Action shot!

big shovel pass

Eventually, towards the end of a beautiful day of walking, you reach Big Shovel Pass. This is after 11 miles or so, and you can make out the thin line of the trail to the left of the sign, in the distance, snaking it’s way up over the next very high ridge. We were staying in a place called “The Lodge”, but had no clue where it was. I was convinced we had to walk downhill, but Fr. Jimmy and a couple from California we had made friends with were convinced it was uphill.

So… we trod endlessly uphill. Up, and up, more and more. Until we eventually realized that the Lodge was nowhere in sight, and, it was actually downhill. And not only was it downhill, but it was way down, off the ridge line entirely.

So downhill it was.

Steep curve followed steep curve. Lower and lower and lower we went until, at last, we reached the Lodge. With the prospect of climbing uphill about 1500 feet first thing the next morning, on very tired feet, I was quite dismayed at this point. And I was hardly alone, as many grumbles quietly ensued from the entire cast of characters assembled in this strangely beautiful location.

But not everything was going downhill. For the Lodge provided an abundant meal of beef filet and vegetables; and afterwards, the bedding was comfortable.


To be continued…

Fair Setup

Our School

We have a great school here.

Our Field

And in back of it is a huge field where we host our annual Parish Fair.

Why, here’s a part of the field now… maybe half of it.

Our Parishioners Setting Up Our Fair

And here are some of our dedicated Parishioners helping with the immense task of Fair Setup.

I helped a lot by walking around taking pictures. It’s hard work, and someone’s got to do it you know! (Although one of our Parishioners is a photographer for the Times Picayune and takes phenomenal photos… but we’re not going to talk about that.)

Crazed

Things get a little crazed at times…

the Sky

… and then people start running across the roof.

The Roof of the Beer Booth

Interestingly, the most sturdily built booth is the beer booth. But that’s because it houses several large screen TV’s which will be showcasing various football games and sporting events throughout the duration of the fair.

Foods Booths

But I am really looking forward to all of the great food. In fact I’m not eating anything but oatmeal and Cheerios all week long before the fair starts.

With everything else going on in the world, I often consider that I should blog about the important events happening daily. But, our fair is a very important event you know, and it takes a lot of effort on everyone’s part to make it the huge success that it always is.

Hope to see you there!

The Long Weekend

coconut rolls

I love weekends. They’re on the long side with the work of the Church going on in full force at the beginning of the week every Sunday. But, they also offer a lot time to reflect and consider life.

And, every now and again there’s time to experiment with these coconut rolls that have been just begging to be made. This is the closest I’ve come to date; it’s almost where they need to be. Still these are great and someone asked me to fix 100 of them for a large party later this year. (I said no.)

And the weekend is a great time to practice close-ups of roses. I realize, one day I’ll look back at this and laugh, and wonder how I could have ever posted it. But for now, I’m thrilled with it. It’s a baby step in the right direction.

Bunny

And the weekend is a time to take long walks. Feral chickens are all over the New Orleans area, and the park nearby has feral chickens aplenty. Here’s one with a local rabbit. The rabbit was sitting there minding his own business, and the chicken went over and pecked him on the head. Then they both stood there like this and looked at me taking their picture.

I think the heat gets to everything down here, including these critters. Walking around, or just staying outside for more than ten minutes, it’s easy to feel like a cypress tree standing serenely in the swamp, basking in the extravagant humidity. And the humidity here is very extravagant right now.

So much work to be done for the Lord; God grant us length of days to glorify you, and to bring honor to your holy name.

The End of the Road

Fort Jackson

I drove down to Fort Jackson today. It was a pretty pleasant drive aside from a dramatic rainstorm. The road along the Westbank of the river ends right past Fort Jackson, since the river ends a bit after that.

I was expecting a sign saying something along those lines, which I had read about in a book discussing the Mississippi River Bike Trail.

But there is no sign. The road just ends very unceremoniously, and very unattractively.

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I hadn’t expected the ride to be such a potent reminder of Katrina, which was perhaps naive of me. At any rate, I’ll have to leave off tonight with this intriguing photo taken at the farthest point south on the Eastbank road along the Mississippi, shortly after Pointe a la Hache.

I’ll write about the whole trip in the next few days, surely there are some spiritual lessons to be had. Ciao.