Trip up Mount Columbia, Day 1.

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Lost in the Rocky Mountain Range of Colorado, hidden in the midst of a small town known as Buena Vista, there rises a steady slope of 14, 068 ft. This ascent is hidden amidst several 14 foot Mountain Ranges that surround it and its outcropping, such as Mount Harvard. On the lower slopes of its decent are nurtured trees and various ponds. Mount Columbia stands erect amongst the loneliness of a small stream and a mixture of pine trees. Last May, in 2010, I began a 3 day trek up its rocky spine starting on a trial head 8 miles away with ten comrades. We were backpacking it.

The first day, we hiked 3 miles, stopping at various ponds to resupply our water and breathe in the cold and crisp air. Colorado in mid-May is a very nippy. Several times as we hiked we entered into low flung trees that brought about a sense of the eerie realization of our aloneness in the trek. Anything could happen out here and it would take days for anyone to know about it. The trail lead us up a rising ridge that began in a clearing and moved towards dark pines. As the trail continued, we found ourselves following a small stream that leads us up the spine. As we went higher and higher we began to hit sporadic patches of snow, resending in us by losing the trail under the white mixture of ice and snow. Soon we were forced to put on our water proof straps that reached up our ankles to keep us dry. There were several times that we reached three feet of deep snow that reached up over my 5 foot 7 inch frame. We continued up….

Here we set up our first camp. Amidst tarps and sleeping bags, you could here the small pots of boiling water that would eventually hold our supper. I remember that I left camp and walked into the surrounding woods. I great sense of peace captured and overtook me as I realized the closeness of God in such a place as this. The woods seemed as if to beacon my mind and body. They were alone up here, blowing in the wind, supplying a silence sound of peace. This was Mount Columbia Day 1.

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Appalachian Trail, 8/10/97

8/10/97  7:15 p.m.  I arrived at the Jenkins Shelter at 3:30 to meet ssGlen and his grandson, Matthew.  Great guys.  Glen is 72 and an avid hiker and biker and traveler.  Matthew just graduated from high school and plans to wait a couple years before starting college.

   I am tired but deeply satisfied in hiking the 15 miles today.  This leaves 22 miles: 10 miles tomorrow and 12 miles on Tuesday.  Hopefully I’ll get to the picnic ground by 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday.

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Appalachian Trial, 8/9/97

8/9/97  7:20 a.m.  I had a very good nite’s sleep.  The stars were beautiful.  I was warm and comfortable.  I probably slept better than on any other nite.  The sun is rising and I’ve had breakfast and am all packed. I want it to be good light before leaving since I’ll be hiking on a side-trail that is not used much.  God, help me keep alert!

   9:20 a.m. All is well! About 15 minutes ago I rejoined the AT.  There is some confusion as I look at how the trail rejoins, related to which way is south and which is north on the AT but I’ll follow the trail book and I’ll be O.K.  It is a blessed relief to be back on the AT but it was well worth the side trail.  Now—12 miles to shelter.

   Hebrews 13.  God is our helper.  He has promised never to forsake us.  We can look to Him, not to money or anything else.

   5:45 p.m.  Oh, the joy and relief of reaching the shelter!  I arrived at 5:15 after a long, hard, 10-mile day.  Too much for an old man. But, pushing on and getting here puts me on schedule to complete the hike on Tuesday.  Tomorrow will be a lighter day, 10 miles, and my body desperately needs a less demanding day.

   A strange, strange event.  Before arriving here today I met 2 hikers who had stopped at the shelter.  The first man who spent last nite here told me that the water source was 3/8 mile away!  He, of course, lamented the long, long walk.  The second guy who stopped for water today said that there was no water.  (I figured he just hadn’t walked the full distance to find it.)  Upon my arrival I followed the blue (“water”) blaze downhill about 100 yards.  I found 2 small pools of water, one of which indicated a slow inflow.  I scooped up about 1/3 cup at the time and even though I will use water tablets, I bet good money this water is fine to drink: clear, cold, flowing, and good to the taste!  I am greatly, greatly relieved and thankful to have good water so close!

   7:30 p.m.  Supper is done.  Dishes cleaned.  Food-bag hung up.  Teeth brushed. Ibuprofen swallowed.  I’ve been working at all these thinks since the last entry.

                                 There’s pain all the time

                                 Feet, back, hip, or knee

                                 You do whatever you can

                                  And you keep going.

                                 Your feet always ache

                                  That’s par for the course

                                  How good to take off the shoes

                                  And let them relax.

                                  My feet are tender

                                  My ankles are lean

                                  How miraculous that they

                                  Carry me so far!

                                  Hiking shoes are great

                                  They withstand so much

                                  Rocks, rains, roots, and puddles too

                                  Yet they do the job.

                                  Hoorah for good shoes!

                                  Hoorah for good packs!

                                  For canteens, stoves, sleeping bags

                                  For all say “Hoorah!”

                                  How odd it must seem

                                  To live all outdoors

                                  No toilets, no sinks, no stoves

                                  Not even T.V.

8/9/97  7:15 a.m.  My stomach hurts. This is the 2nd day on the hike that I’ve had this pain.  It’s either the “massive” supper I ate last nite (and every nite!) or the water tablets.  (I’ve used more tablets on this hike because the water in more instances has been slightly suspect.)

   I had a quiet solitary nite here at the Jenny’s Knob Shelter.

   This promises to be an easier day.  I can use it!

   9:30 a.m.  Hebrews 1-4.  Jesus is creator, sustainer, and heir of all creation.  We, unlike the Israelites in the wilderness, are to remain faithful to the Lord who in Christ has accomplished all.  He will be our help in all things.

   I meditate sitting high on a mountain.  I feel like I’m on “Little Roundtop” atGettysburg.  It is so very quiet and peaceful and cool, a nice breeze on a beautiful Saturday.

   2:30 p.m. I arrived at the shelter (Helvey’s Mill) at 1:30!! A record time.  I stopped for meditation and for lunch and still got here this quickly.  The trail for today was relatively rock-free with no prolonged uphills or downhills.  Hiking at about 3,000 feet.  Cool weather.  Cloudy day.  Low humidity. A perfect day and terrain for fast hiking.

   At this shelter is a lovely stream down a long switchback trail.  I bathed at the stream and feel like a new person.  Wonderful!

   I cherish this afternoon of rest, thought, and rejuvenation for 3 more hiking days.

   What about this long hike compared to the other in 1989?  1. This has been a tougher hike—more long days, more rocks, more severe uphills and downhills. 2. This has been a more solitary hike.  I have spent many more nites alone and have met relatively few other hikers. Sometimes I have felt lonely but most of the time quite content. (I think on my next long hike I’d like to go with Ted or Steve or David or someone else; probably next spring in Pennsylvania. 3. This hike has been less interesting—no Harper’s Ferry orGettysburgor Mason-Dixon line orShenandoahNational Park.  This trail though has had its interest places: McAdoo Knob, Dragon’s Tooth, Cloverdale, Pearisburg, Tinker Creek andHollinsCollege, the Ribble Trail campout.

                                 So many noises

                                 People? Animals?

                                 Most often they are neither

                                 Simply nature’s sounds.

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Appalachian Trail, 8-5-97 and 8-7-97

8/5/97.  1:25 p.m.  On top of a rock on my way to the Rice Field Shelter, another 8 miles to go.  This is a long day as I try to reach Pearisburg by tomorrow.

   I had lunch and a lovely quiet time as the sun shines warmly and the breeze blows comfortably.  I’m tired but believe I can make another 8 miles, having hiked that to this point today.  Thanks, God, for a needed break.

   Hebrews 10.  The one sacrifice rids us of sin.  Be faithful to this confession.

   8:25 p.m. at Star Haven Shelter with “Betwixt,” a young man just out of the army who is hiking-hitchhiking the AT.  A nice guy who is out to have a good experience on the AT.

   It was a 16-mile day, certainly one of my two longest.  I was fatigued to the bone when I got here.  That’s too many miles for me to negotiate.  The terrain was level and “easy” compared to most of the trail terrain.

   This shelter sits next to a pasture overlooking the mountains, a very picturesque setting.  The breeze is very cold and strong so it’ll be a cold nite.

   I arrive in Pearisburg tomorrow, hopefully before noon, an 8-mile trek.  I’ll stay at the Roman Catholic Hostel.  It’ll be good to get a good shower and to get my clothes clean and dry.  I’ll have some deciding to do: whether to press on to Ceres with certainly some long days or cut it shorter and take shorter hikes each day.

   I had a great supper: spaghetti, cooked apples with honey and butter buds and lemonade.  I’m as full as a tick.  (I picked the apples when I went through an old apple orchard.)

   What a spectacular view today!  On a mountain bald with acres of blooming wild flowers and hundreds of butterflies and bees.  In the distance the valleys and the mountain ranges.  Quite spectacular.

   Thanks, God, for getting me here safe and healthy.

8/6/97  1:30 p.m.  I’m here at the Roman Catholic Hostel in Pearisburg “on schedule.”  I hiked 8 miles and got here at 11:30.  I got off at 6:55, a record for me!  I think as I get older it will increasingly be an advantage for me to get early starts.

   In looking over the trail mileage I’ve practically decided to go just 40 more miles, starting day after tomorrow.  In many ways I would rather try to “hack it out,” rolling out of here bright and early in the morning; but I don’t believe this is to be the “spirit” of my hiking.  Rather, to enjoy this small town for a day, eat some good meals, read the paper, relax, and then hike, but not in frantic pace.  I’m retired now and can get back up here for the remaining 30 miles distance.  Possibly Ted (Ted Spitler) would like to join me for it.

   Was I blessed?  Bill, the caretaker at the hostel, saw me walking with my “care package” from the post office and offered me a ride!  Was I ever glad!

   It was beautiful on the mountain as I left the shelter this morning!  There were clouds in the valleys so that all I could see were mountains and while clouds.

   Hebrews 11.  The great message of faith.

8/7/07.  3:25 p.m.  Who would believe that I am today at the Doc’s Knob Shelter!  It all happened last nite when I got to thinking about the opportunity that was mine—to press on and complete this final 75 mile section.  I got out of bed to look again at the map and to read the guidebook to see what it says about these approaching miles.  It seems that the area is almost totally “level” and that much of it is over old mountain roadbeds.  Both these facts indicate not as hard a hiking as is usual on the AT.

   So I got up from reading and assembled my foodstuffs to move out this morning.  After calling Melba and Mike Pruett I set out at 8:00, mailed cards at the Post Office and got on the trail at 9:00.  I had hoped to get a ride to the trail but no such luck.

   The climb to Angels’ Rest was tough but I made it fine.  I’m “foot and leg weary” but after a rest I plan to press on for 4 more miles to the campsite.  Making good miles today and tomorrow is crucial to completing the total miles by Tuesday.

   The weather is wonderfully cool!  It couldn’t be better.

   Highlight of the day?  A hawk hovered above me, whistling his “whistle” song.

   Another highlight: talking to 2 hikers who took this planned Ribble Trail.

   Hebrews 12.  Let us be strong and faithful in the toughness of life.  We are trained and made stronger by it.  So God disciplines his children.

   Help me, God, to press on and not be overcome by weakness and pain.

   7:45 p.m.  This is pure ecstasy!  I’m camping by a spring next to a pond at the north end of the Ribble Trail.  This blue-blazed trail should cut off about 3 miles of hiking, connecting onto the AT after 2.9 miles of hiking. I’ll come out at the AT about 12 miles from a shelter, having skipped one tomorrow.  If all goes well I should then be on schedule to complete the full hike on next Tuesday!  Praise God!

   I was very tired at the break this afternoon.  But the food and the 1-hour rest restored my strength.  In fact, my left ankle that has pained me all day subsided in pain.

   Tomorrow should be the last real hard day.  I’ll try to get an early start.

   Tonite I sleep on the deep, soft grass next to a picnic table.  The soft ground feels great!  It’s quite cool and there are a few clouds but I don’t anticipate rain!!  I’ll place the plastic over the picnic table and if it rains, get under the picnic table!  It’ll be a tight squeeze!  My food is suspended by rope from a tree and I’ll hang my pack also in a tree.  I feel like a real cowboy!  There’s not a human sound around.  Only the hum of a passing plane.  In the cool spring water is the remainder of the supper’s chocolate pudding which I’ll eat at breakfast.  I really love it out here—tummy’s full, teeth are brushed, sleeping bag is ready, wild but friendly nature is all  around.  God has blessed my plans for today.  He and I have had a good time this whole hiking experience.  He truly is a caring, constant companion.

                          Where is the side trail?

                           Two boys came along

                           They had hiked the trail today

                           They told me the way.

                           A coincidence?

                           Maybe yes or no

                          But I believe it was God

                          Looking after me!

                          I have some concerns

                          Hiking the unknown

                          I will be cautious and slow

                          Watching carefully.

                          Adventure is fun

                          But up to a point

                          My well-being is vital

                          To me and others.

                          God gave me a sign!

                          It was high above

                          A soaring and whistling hawk!

                          How graceful he flew.

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Illustrate the pragmatic theory of meaning with your own examples.

The pragmatic theory of meaning is essentially the idea that the meaning of words are determined by the effects and experiences that occur defining those words. If a word cannot make an observable result than the word is meaningless. For instance, if I claim that I trust you, the Pragmatic Theory of Meaning would claim that I would have to support this statement with clear action that supports this statement. If I am asked to close my eyes and fall backwards into your arms and cannot do it do to fear, I contradict my original statement of trust. If I claim to trust you and find I am unable to make firm action to base that trust, my trust is not based upon truth but rather a false sense of words. Thus the word ‘trust’ in this context is proven completely false do to the inconsistency of the word followed with action. This same example could be used in terms to more natural events and beliefs that many of us assume we believe, but when tested with action could find ourselves apprehensive to base this belief with action. A firm example of this is in going onto a rollercoaster. I could claim that I have full confidence in the safety of the rollercoaster, but if I am unable to actually ride it, the statement contradicts itself. In order to truly prove the Pragmatic Theory of Meaning, I would have to be willing to put action to my words and ride the rollercoaster. But if I make the trust fall and ride the rollercoaster, my actions are in sync with my words. Thus showing the Pragmatic Theory of Meaning in which my words stand behind my actions and thus cause me to follow the system of thinking presented by Charles Peirce. I really like this concept because it shows the importance of words. Words in this context are not just words but rather action. Action that is consistent with the words and beliefs that individuals believe or claim to believe. The Pragmatic Theory of Meaning is an excellent way to analyze and determine the beliefs of an individual. If this individual claims something, but does not openly follow his words with action, those are falls beliefs and words.

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300 Workout

About a month ago I began to do the 300 workout. It is an intense workout routine. This is the routine

25 pullups

50 dead lifts with 135 lbs.

50 pushups

50 jump squats onto 24 in. block

50 floor wipers with 135 lbs.

50 one-armed kettle bell cleans with 36 lbs.

25 pushups

At the end of the routine, I found myself completely exhausted. I tried to do it twice a week, but found that it wore me out more than built me up. That is the thing about this routine, it is an excellent workout to do occationally, but not a daily, or even weekly basis. Workup to it. I noticed that my wrist and forearms were much to weak to do with no breaks. I had to take breaks in-between sets.

I would recommend a few things if you want to be able to do the 300 workout. Do bodybuilding excersise that build up both strength and muscle growth. I especially would recommend the training of the forearms, as it is the muscle group that controls grip. Alongside this, make sure to do cardio workouts that get your blood pumping. As well as this, try to only do the actual 300 workout occationally, I recommend once a month. As you do it, write down your results.

As for supplements, eat alot of food 2-3 hrs before, best if a high complex carb meal. Brown rice or pasta is excellent for this type of pre-workout meal along side quality protien such as chicken. Drink large amounts of water, close to 16 ounces an hour before the workout. 15-20 min. before starting, have some type of energy drink. Try not to use anything carbonated. My favorite is the Gatorade Pre-workout juice shake. This increases my heart rate and gets me focused. An unknown liquid that helps tremendously is straight up black coffee. It has caffiene, which will give you energy and focus during your workout. These are the things that have helped me.

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Appalachian Trial 8/4/97

8/4/97.  8:20 a.m. At the Bailey’s Gap Shelter.  I’m alone.  A rainy afternoon.  No water here but a flowing spring .2 miles to south.  I hiked 14 miles today.  A hard but wonderful day.  I left at 7:30, got to the Warspur Shelter at 12 noon.  Ate lunch and rested one hour during terrible thunderstorm.  With 7.5 miles to go I set out at 1:00.  Hiked easy and hard:a long, hard 1.3 mile uphill hike then smooth hiking for approximately 4 miles (easiest hiking I’ve ever done); then rocks and sticker bushes and ferns and rock and more rocks (some of the most difficult hiking I’ve ever done).

   Anyone who hikes the whole AT has my deepest respect.  It is a monster when you have slippery rocks and “out-of-vision” trail and the trail hardly distinguishable from the rest of the terrain.  I can see why some hikers want to booze it up when they get a chance.  This trail can beat the tar out of you.

   Only 8 more nites on the trail.  I’m feeling abit sad.  But that will beenough for me for awhile.

   With a long hike (16 miles) tomorrow I should be able to reach Pearisburg on Wednesday.  That will put me on the best schedule I could possibly have. I’m very thankful for God’s help in helping me hike the long distance today.  My old body feels O.K.

   I changed into dry clothes.

   My stomach is abit upset–tummy ache.  Hopefully I’ll have a good bowel movement which I need badly. (Incidentally, I was probably feeling pain from a hernia which I discovered at the end of this hike.)

   My pack is lighter!!

   A great supper: a tomato-rice meal with the dehydrated vegetables a camper left; also chicken-noodle soup mixed in as well.  And a cup of lemonade.  A monstrous meal that I gobbled down!!

   It’s real peaceful.  The sky is now clear.  There’s a coolness in the air so that this long-sleeve shirt feels great.  I love to be out alone as tonite.  I have no fear, just peacefulness.

   This morning I stopped for a Hebrews reading and Quiet Time but not for long.

                               This damnable trail

                               Enough to drive a man mad

                               Sometimes I hate it.

                               But I respect it

                               I’d not want to give it up

                               It’s a part of me.

                               So much could happen

                               Falls, bites, getting lost

                               God’s protection is everywhere.

                               Thank you, thank you, God.

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Appalachian Trial 8/1/97-8/3/97

8/1/97.  7:30 a.m.  I’ve had breakfast, packed my pack, and am now ready to go to the Post Office and get to the trail (hopefully by car) to begin the southward journey.  Last nite was rather restless on a concrete floor and the endless noise of heavy, fast traffic on a busy highway.  Hopefully I slept more than I think, which is usually the case.  Thank you, God, for my health and your constant protection.

   10:30 a.m. On top of Dragon’s Tooth.  Talk about scared!  I was scared stiff at several places climbing up the rocky ledge to get here.  The last hour has been a horrendous experience: balancing a very heavy pack on my shoulders, looking for secure footing along the sheer ledge of rock, not seeing enough blazes to be certain that my direction was correct, nearly losing my precious walking stick when it rolled down a rock, and, by God’s grace, stopped by some small trees; climbing, climbing, climbing.  It was more like rock-climbing than hiking.  I would hate to be going down these rocks.  I believe it would have been more than I could do.  I hope to face nothing like this again.  I nearly lost my nerve and confidence but I didn’t.  A terrible fall about an hour earlier in which I stumbled on a root and fell headlong, striking my head severely, probably figured into my fear and uncertainty.

   Hebrews 5-6.  Jesus is the high priest.  Continue on in the faith, persevering, discerning good from evil.

   3:30 p.m. I arrived here at the Pickled Branch Shelter at 2:30.  The shelter is ½ mile off the AT but it is worth it.  It reminds me of an old homestead.  Below the shelter is a fast flowing creek with a fresh spring feeding the creek.  The water is cold, pure, and absolutely clear.  I drank from the spring and it beats lemonade!  The last 3 shelters (Boblets Gap, Fullhardt Knob, and Campbell) have had very, very slow and unsteady water.  How good again to have clear and plentiful water!  In fact, it was a week ago the last time I had plentiful water.  (After hiking these many years I do believe the main reason I liked our Bent Tree lot was because of the clear, ever-flowing stream.) Water is essential to life.

   Today was a short but not easy day.  The treacherous climb to Dragon’s Tooth and then the hike afterward were quite enough for me.  I’m glad to be here, resting, and enjoying this most peaceful place.  I think that tomorrow I’ll get up early, get an early start, and (unless it seems advisable to press on more aggressively) to get to the campsite early.  I don’t need to set any speed records.

   Hopefully, I’ll be alone tonite. But whatever God brings I’ll receive and welcome.  The silence is peaceful and rich for my soul.

   I sponged off in the creek, washing my upper body and my hair.  It was great.  Also, I did some clothes washing, which clothes are on  the line.

   7:15 p.m.  A wonderful supper!  2 instant soups (chicken noodle), macaroni and cheese (3 cups!), lemonade, and pistachio pudding!  I am very full and satisfied.  I returned to the branch to wash the dishes.

   This weather is great!  Low humidity; comfortably warm in the daytime; cool in the evening.  This has been the case for the last 3 days.

                                Fear again today

                                It’s been a long time since I fell on the first day

                                And again today.

                               My pack was heavy

                               I had to balance

                               Uphill rocks had to be climbed

                               I was not secure.

                               It was rock-climbing

                               It was not hiking

                               Being alone made it worse

                               Who would come to help?

                               God, give my faith back!

                               God says it is there

                               Move forward in My good grace

                               You are protected.

                               This place is peaceful

                               How really quiet, perfectly quiet

                               I cherish no sounds.

    (The above are not pure Haiku!)

8/2/97  8:30 a.m.  I am sitting in an open, sunny spot after a 7:00 a.m. start.  In spite of great perspiration on a long uphill climb I can hardly believe I’m sitting in the early morning sun.  There is a breeze and the air is cool in balance to the warm heat of the sun.  It is a welcomed pause for what probably will be a long day.  I’d like to “catch up” at least partially the extra day I spent in Cloverdale.  There is a mutual concern: to maximize my hiking days for enjoyment, reflex ion, relaxation in the shelters and along the way; and the desire to hike this area of Virginia I’ve not hiked before.  I lean toward the first desire: enjoyment; but not dismissing the second.

   A thought from yesterday: to enter the darkness of the forest with the blaze before you is to leave the heat and rush of everyday pressures.

   My body is acclimated to the trail.  I feel very strong and virile.

   Hebrews 7.  Jesus is the eternal high priest after the order of Melchilzedeck.  He is singular in His office and eternal in His priesthood.

8/3/97  9:45 a.m.  I sit on the edge of a pasture in a large open field under a pine tree.  I have just crossed highway 42, passing a couple houses and a barn.  I started at 7:30 from the Sarvin Campsite and have hiked about 4 miles.  I had planned to do about 16 miles today but I question my physical ability to do so after a 15-mile hike yesterday.  I frankly am fatigued this morning.  I must come back to the reality of my age, the difficulty of this trail, and the freedom I have to hike it at my own pace.  I’m under no obligation or compulsion to hike a lot of miles.

   Yesterday was a tough, tough day.  Tough in terms of the strenuous demands on my body, tough in terms of the frustration I felt about the poorly blazed upper rock portions of the trail where I felt clear and urgent danger. There should have been more regular blazes on those rocks.  (On 2 occasions I got off the trail and found the hiking treacherous in the one instance; and the necessity of fighting my way through a patch of poison ivy in the second instance.) I felt strong anger toward the Roanoke AT Club for not doing a more satisfactory job.  Too the trail was narrow and grown up with high weeds.  The rocks were terrible, creating insecure footing and many dangers to fall.  These experiences took a lot out of me.  At times I wondered if I might have been on an old abandoned trail.

   This wonder was clarified when I came to a sign reading “Water”–Sarvin Water.  This was the sign I had been looking for, indicating my destination for the day, a campsite .3 miles off to the left.  (I had begun to fear that I had missed it and that I’d have to keep going to the next shelter, never making it till dark.

   The blue-blazed trail to the campsite was straight downhill!  It, as was much of yesterday’s trail, was treacherous.  But finally I reached the ramshackled old log cabin and went down about another 150 yards to find a weak spring.  I got there about 6:30.

   I got started on supper after securing enough water (using water tablets to be safe).  I had Cajun rice and beans and chicken soup.  I had many portions of the rice-beans and enjoyed every bite.  Not only was I hungry but I was determined to keep my body fortified.

   Also I made butterscotch pudding but decided  to save it for breakfast.

   With darkness drawing in I decided to put up the plastic “tent” between 2 trees.  I cleared an area and made sleep preparations.  I had heard rats in the cabin and with the roof full of leaks and the unsanitary conditions I decided the outside was the better course.

   I washed real good in case I had contacted poison ivy as well as the need to wash after a sweaty day!

   I slept pretty well and got up at 6:00 to pack up and get out as near to 7:00 as possible.  After eating the delicious pudding I went to the spring to brush my teeth, wash the dishes, and get my water supply for the day.  After loading the pack I set out gratefully at 7:30.  Frankly I was ready to get out of this lonely, off-the-trail place and g et back on the trail where I felt more secure and safe.

   I am weary and tired.  I found ripe blackberries, God’s communion for me today.  He certainly has been my communion each day of this hike.  How many times He has helped.  How constant has been His protection and watchfulness over me.  I am very grateful.

   Hebrews 8.  God has established a new covenant with Jesus being the High Priest in heaven.

   3:30 p.m. I reached Laurel Creek Shelter at about 12 noon.  Even though I could have made the 6 miles to the next shelter I decided to remain here.  I’m bone tired and I think the rest will do me good.  I’ll hike the 6 miles tomorrow and call it quits.  To date I’ve hiked 131 miles.  Not as much this week because of the day off and the short day on my arrival at Cloverdale.

   I’ve had trouble deciding how far to go, especially today.

   7:00 p.m. 3 youth and an adult from Lancaster, Pa. are here as part of a week-long hike.  They have just come from Charleston, SC where they worked 2 weeks helping rebuild a home destroyed by Hugo.

   I had a good supper of pasta, vegetables, and lemonade.  A good full feeling.

   I had a very restful and, I hope, restorative day.  Tomorrow: probably 6 miles, maybe more!!

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Appalachian Trail 7/25-7/31-1997

7/25  It is 12:00 noon at the Gullivers Gap Shelter.  I stopped here for lunch after an easy 5-mile hike from the Thunder Hill Shelter.  A Presbyterian Youth Group is here, having been here since yesterday when they stopped for lunch.  They will proceed south from here and be at the same shelter with me tonite.

   I enjoyed talking talking with Scott, the leader of the youth group.  He is age 22 and is writing about his experiences. He sends articles to Wingfoot, The AT expert who lives in Hot Springs, NC.

   I thought about an interesting 3-day trip for Melba and me: to drive to Hot Springs for the hot baths, to drive to Marion, NC, to see Jim Haney and to go to Shelby to see my old hiking friend.

   Hebrews 8-9.  Jesus was the eternal High Priest who established the second and perfect covenant by making the sacrifice of his own blood upon God’s Altar.

   Met Hal and Ruth Washington—“Flash” and “Hot Flash”.

   It is 8:20 on Friday nite and the day has been good.  The hike was all downhill.  Unbelievable!  I’ve never hiked a portion of the AT that was so steadily downhill.  Because of this I was able to hike much faster. I got here at 4:30, hiking 10 miles.

   In the shelter are a Presbyterian Youth Group that has hiked since Monday.  A young pastor and his wife are the leaders.  They come from a Presbyterian youth camp.  They are a good group and seem to have had a splendid week.

   Also there came to this shelter an older couple, “Flash “and “Hot Flash” who were thru-hikers in 1987.  They described to me the dehydration process.  They are vegetarians and do much of this process.

   The couple and I told the youth a story from our hiking.  They brought me a Pepsie Cola!  Just today I had said how good a Pepsie would taste. It was terrific, terrific!! I also talked to the young pastor, Jeff Hayes, who originally came from Birmingham.   He graduated last year from Columbia Seminary in Decatur.

   Tomorrow will be a long day, about13 miles. Much climbing and descending.  This will be my longest day.  Hopefully I can make it and that I can schedule the next couple of days so as to reach Daleville as early on Monday as possible.

   Thank you, God, for the good things of today and each day of the hike!

7/26  It is early on Saturday (7:15) and the youth are all up and getting their breakfast.  They are a verbal and very freely expressing group with a couple of good able adults.

   Today is a long hike.  I leave early hoping to make good but not too tiring a hike.

   This Bryant Ridge Shelter is a nice good one built in memory of a young man who was killed on the AT.

   12:00 noon.  I am at the Cove Mountain Shelter (no water) after hiking 6 ½ miles this morning.  This afternoon I’ll hike 6 miles to the Bobblets Gap Shelter.  This is my longest hiking day so far.  I may hike a similar distance tomorrow in order to have a longer day in Cloverdale. (I need a longer day for rest and restoration.)  I must not let my schedule and/or desire to hike a long distance on this hike drive me to overstrain on my not-so-young body.

   Hebrews 10.  Paul speaks of the everlasting covenant sealed with Christ’s once-and-for-all sacrifice. He urges the believers to be faithful and not swerve from the true faith.

   It is 7:15 p.m.  I arrived here at Boblets Gap Shelter at 5:30.  I am alone so far.

   This is a spooky place—down deep in a gap.  The sound of cars on the Blue Ridge Parkway can be heard.  Too, I hear voices in the distance.  Whether they are headed here I don’t know.  I have wished for no companions tonite but be it as it may.  I’m sure God is here and that’s what matters.

   The water supply is very meager.  It has to be “cupped” from a very shallow pool that is fed by a slow moving spring.  I have to cup it about a “swallow” at a time.

   Would you believe that I spilled my water pot twice—losing precious water!!  The table leans and the pot slid off the stove.  (I need to be alert to this recurring.  My stove itself does not automatically sit level, which compounded the problem tonite.)

   It is very cool and comfortable tonite.  A slight breeze feels good.

   My left foot has bothered me today.  There feels like a blister on the bone spur area of the heel.  I may apply some foam treatment that I have for blisters.

   I hear voices.  There are campers approaching.

   I’m very tired again tonite.  I’m not even sure I want to keep going for 3 weeks.  It gets to be a grind, pushing oneself hour after hour with body pains to go with it.

   Two young men, Tony and Jeremy, here for some fun together.  After seeing me and, I think, realizing their fun opportunities would be curtailed they left to find a more solitary spot!

7/27.  8:00 a.m.  I dreamed all nite!  The dream focused on Redeemer Church, Atlanta, where a “mock” wedding was being held.  People were all costumed.  There was a band.  It looked like a big bizarre.  I recognized pastors and youth leaders.  Pastor Sims was present joining in the festivities.  All the pews were stacked at the rear.  To get a seat I and others climbed on the roof of the entrance-place and a portion broke off.  I had the feeling of not being in the “show” but wanting to be.  All-in-all it was delightful evening—entertainment and good sound sleep.  I didn’t wake till 7:00 a.m. after going to bed around 8:30.

   It rained hard again last nite.  All the wet clothes which I had hung on the line are now wetter!  There is that dampness everywhere.

   It is Sunday, the Sabbath (a day of rest).  I hopefully will enjoy that “Sabbath” tomorrow in Cloverdale!  The hiking today looks not too difficult.

   My heel is very sensitive and sore.  I’ve put a Dr. Sloan’s foam pad on it.

   9:45.  I sit here on the edge of the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I just left 4 “bikers” whom I met on the trail.  One of the 2 ladies was off by herself and I unexpectedly walked up on her.  She yelled a loud “shit” when she surprisingly saw me.  She said this was the 2nd anniversary of her father’s death.  We chatted and then joined the others.  The 2 men said they were Lutheran.  Thank, God, for bringing us together!

   Hebrews 11-12.  The great chapter about faith followed by admonitions to follow the Lord’s discipline.

   A lovely couple from Florida came along and stopped at the Blue Ridge scenic stop where I was having the above devotion.  They took a couple pictures with the Virginia valley in  the background.  I took one of the mountains on the other side of the drive.

   I write this at 7:45 as I sit at the table of the Fullhardt Knob Shelter.  I got here at 5:45, completing a 12-mile hike—too long for regular hiking for these old legs of mine.  I wanted to stretch it today (Sunday) so as to hike into Daleville/Cloverdale early in the morning and have a full day off.  It will be a 5-mile hike and I hope to get there before lunch, check into a motel, and have time for getting my clothes washed, eating a couple of good meals, call Melba, and get my pack cleaned and dried out.  I’m ready for a break.  I might even stay 2 days.  We’ll see.  On Wednesday I make a pick-up at Catawba, so that could be a nite to spend off the trail in Catawba.  I’ll see how I feel late tomorrow.

   I have a blister on my left heel and I am very fatigued.  I’ve hiked hard these first seven days, hiking 72.6 miles.  (To go all the way to Ceres is 225 miles and I don’t think it will be possible for me to do that—even adding a couple days to the 3 weeks.  That would be 23 days to do 225 miles.)

   God has been so wonderfully good to me.  He has been my constant companion all the way.  He has heard me cry out angrily and spitefully when I have been climbing very long and steep uphill trails.  He takes it in course and understands.  He has heard my joy and happiness in drinking cold water from a mountain stream.  He shares my pleasures in meeting and talking to interesting people.  He helps me start the stove and get my pack ready.  He hears my prayers at night when I can’t sleep.  He rejoices with me for a good night’s sleep and the wonderful dreams.  Whatever I do He shares.

                       I count my blessings

                       Never am I without God

                       And I am thankful.

                       Those who don’t believe?

                       They miss the joy of belief

                       And God regrets that.

                       I hear the birds sing

                       My only companions they

                       And I cherish it.

                       Do I get afraid?

                       I have learned to trust the night

                       Because God is near.

                       Why backpack alone?

                       To think and dream and go on

                       And find it is good.

7/28  It is 5:45 p.m. and I sit in the laundry room of the Best Western Motel waiting for my terribly soiled clothes to get washed and dried.  Thank goodness for modern conveniences.

   I got up at 6:00 today and was on the trail by 6:50.  Feeling weak I stopped and ate a bowl of cereal on the trail about 2 miles from the shelter.  (It is unusual for me not to eat breakfast but I was anxious get on my way and to eat at Shoney’s in Cloverdale, Va.!!)  My better judgment told me my body needed fueling!  It was a beautiful hike amidst a lovely valley, apple trees, and blackberries.  I arrived, tired at 10:00 at the Best Western Motel. Before registering I washed up and walked to Shoney’s for their delicious breakfast bar.  I ravished the fruit bar but ate too more than my share of grits, biscuits, sausage, and plenty of good hot coffee. (Before getting to Shoney’s I bought a 16 oz. bottle of fresh apple juice. My body seemed to crave fluids.  The last 2 days of hiking have been extremely hot.  In fact these are record hot temperatures for the Roanoke area.

   After breakfast I did some shopping for food supplies and came back to the motel to register.  Getting my room I dried out everything in the 93 degree sun and then called Melba to find her having had lots of company and all going well.  She sounded great!  I appreciate her strong support for my doing this hike.

   After that long phone conversation, a welcomed, glorious hot shower and then to this clothes washing and writing cards to the children and grandchildren.  After a Quiet Time I’ll go to the Pizza Hut for supper and then watch the Braves game.

   Hebrews 13.  Paul exhorts the believers to abide in the flow of grace—being generous, trusting, living responsibly and respectfully.

   An idea of early morning: the five smooth stones for battle with Satan for the pastor are l)Prayer 2)Worship 3)Witness 4)Community and 5)Family.

7/29.  11:15 a.m.  I had a wonderful night’s rest here in the motel.  I was fully awakened at 8:00 by a phone call from Melba and then a blessed call from Ted Spitler.  Such was my glorious day’s beginning!  Thank you, God!  Following a delicious continental breakfast I began phoning to learn about Annie Dillard and Tinker Creek.  I learned that my best resource is the Hollins College Library.  I then phoned Delwood (the Trail Angel of this area) who will take me to Hollins this afternoon so that, hopefully, I can spend a couple hours there.  Thank you, God, for helping me pursue this research and interest!

   Hebrews 1.  In “various” ways God spoke through the prophets to his people.  God speaks to us also in “various” ways—a Pepsi Cola, Trail Angel, a good bowel movement, a phone call early in the day, a helpful librarian, etc.

   4:15 p.m.  I am in the Hollins College Library having read much by and about Annie Dillard. She wrote her Master’s Degree Thesis on “Walden Pond and Thoreau.” A quote: “Thoreau’s going to Walden to live was not so much a retreat from a way of life he disliked as a positive pilgrimage to a way of life he liked. It was a “tune in” not a “drop out.” Also, Walden Pond “is the glory of heaven clothed in the muted garments of nature, dim enough that men can look upon it and bright enough that men can understand its significance.  Or, turn it around to see the light shine on its other surface, and it is nature garbed in the lights of heaven, infused with meaning just as particles of light are suspended throughout its deep water.  The preservation of matter guarantees the reign of heaven on earth; eternity and time, spirit and matter, meet to the enhancement of each in the water of Walden Pond.”

   8:45 p.m.  I “hitched” a ride back to the motel and then enjoyed a steak dinner at the Western Sizzler across the street. Very good and very cheap!

   My pack is ready for return to the trail. I’ll have breakfast here and then walk the 150 yards down the highway to the trail.  My blisters concern me but hopefully I can walk it out and the pain will become less.

   This stay in Cloverdale highlighted by the excursion to Hollins College has been a joy.  It’ll be a mental adjustment to get back to hiking.  Hopefully I’ll be back in the swing and find joy on the trail.

7/30.  10:15 a.m.  I sit here on a rock in the Tinker Mountain Range, looking back to the top of the mountain which I crossed about 8:30.  I left at 7:30 after a good breakfast and fond goodbye to the restful Best Western.

   Before leaving I put foam padding around the big toe bunion blister and it has felt O.K.  Also, the left heel spur is not hurting!  I am very, very grateful!

   The view from up here is spectacular—looking down on a river basin on one side of the ridge and “civilization” on the other side—homes, highways, stores.  The deep quiet one way and the loud noises the other way.  The eternal and the now-present.  The silence and the sounds.  The quiet and the restless busy.  Both are real.  Both are here. Both are good. God created and loves both.

   Meditation.  Hebrews 2.  Jesus became human and suffered to be with us and support us in our temptations and sufferings.

7/31.  7:10 a.m.  Yesterday was a wonderful one.  I hiked over 15 miles from the motel on Highway 220 to the Campbell Shelter, arriving at 6:30 after leaving at 7:30.  I had a good continental breakfast and then hiked past Tinker Creek and along the Tinker Mountain range, including the Tinker Cliffs, a spectacular area of rocks from which you look across layers and layers of mountains and lower valley, filled with trees and scattered homes.  You feel as if you are on top of the world.  It reminded me of Charlie’s Bunion in the Smokies.  Pretty easy and most interesting hiking.

   I had a new experience while hiking: a sting on my right knee from a hornet or wasp or another kind of stinger-creature.  I think it was a wasp.  Anyway, I kept walking even though it hurt.  About 45 minutes later my feet began to itch terribly!  My lips became slightly numbed.  I stopped, put tobacco juice on the bite with an antiseptic, took an ibuprofen, removed my shoes and socks and anointed my feet with medicative skin cream. My feet and hands were highly reddened.  About 20 minutes later the itch and numbness were gone.  What blessed relief!

   Next time I’m bitten: stop immediately and give treatment.  Stay off my feet.

   The night was wonderful.  It was real cool but the sleeping bag kept me cozy warm.  I heard what sounded like a large animal near the shelter.  I misplaced my flashlight but thankfully found it this morning.  I cooked some apples for supper as well as having 2 complete pasta meals.

   Thanks, God, for another great day.

   Today: McAfee Knob and Catawba post office!

   8:30 at McAfee Knob. Unbelievable!!  It’s like looking out over the world!  A sheer cliff of rocks with hundreds of feet below the precipice. Coming up here the ½ mile from my shelter was like walking through a castle garden: mountain laurel and pathways and rock walls like castle walls.  Spectacular in every way!  The“high point” of my hike.  The height here is 3100 feet.  I meditate as the bright morning sun and the cool breezes and the blue, blue sky, and God’s creation surround me.

7/31  It is 8:40 p.m. and getting dark.  I am in the Catawba General Store “hikers” building” after a wonderful dinner at the “Home Place” restaurant.  I got Melba’s delivery and have the food sorted appropriately.

   The hike today went well.  I hiked 10 miles on the trail.  Tomorrow, hopefully, will be a little less than that.  I need a little breather after 25 miles the last 2 days. I praise God for my feet being O.K., for not injuring myself when I stumbled and fell today, for meeting Tim and for our conversation, for the beautiful views from McAfee Point, for the delightful hike through the pastures, for the timing of arriving in Catawba in time to get the mail, in time to eat the big dinner, and in time to get things organized for tomorrow.  All fitted together well.  Thankfully the Post Office opens at 7:45 so I will be able to get off early tomorrow.

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1997 Appalachian Trail Journal 7/20-7/24

7/20. I am in the Big Walker Motel in Bland, Virginia, after a 380 mile drive from Bent Tree.  Thank you, God, for a safe and fast drive here.  I am comfortable after a strawberry sundae at the Dairy Queen and a good shower.  I phoned Melba to report my safe arrival and to touch base with her who is such a strong a loyal support.  Thank you for her.

   I ask you, God, to let me be strong and able to hike each day.  Let me be aware and open to you.  Let me not be foolish or reckless in my hiking.  Let me be present to you regularly.

7/21.  In the Punchbowl Shelter tonite after a long, hard hike.   I was totally exhausted.  I hiked 10 ½ miles.  I stopped several times this afternoon to rest.  I sweated buckets of water.  It was very hot.  I was blessed by a cool stream near the beginning where I soaked my weary feet.  Then later there was a good spring immediately by the trail—cold, refreshing water.

   At this shelter there is a good spring that pours through a pipe very, very slowly—but steadily.

   Soon after my arrival there came Sarge and Ralph. (I took their picture.)  Another couople of thru-hikers are here as well.

   I had a bad cramp which thankfully has passed.  I took a couple ibuprofen and will do so again tomorrow.  I hope my body recoups and I will be ready to go tomorrow, a 9- mile hike.

   Please, God, give me strength and endourance that I may continue.  Thank, God, for getting me through today.

   Mike Pruett and his friend, Pat Groveclose, were great, picking me up at 7:00.  I got on the trail at 9:30 and arrive here at 5:30.

7/22 It is 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday.  I have hiked about 2 miles–up – up, up. It is extremely hot.  Perspiration pours off me.  I had a fair night’s sleep.  It was warm and very still—no breeze.  There was some thunder and lightning early in the evening but it went for naught.

   Now is the time for scripture reading, prayer,, and tree-study.

   Hebrews 1-3.  Keep your heart true to God.  Be diligent each and every day to keep one’s heart in tune with God.

   4:00 p.m.  I arrived at John’s Hollow Shelter at 3:00 p.m.  It rained some on the hike and now it is raining very hard and steady.  I have been hoping for rain and my hopes are fulfilled!!  There were 3 thru-hikers here who are anxious to “catch” two other hikers.  After a rest, they all left, in spite of the rain.  I marvel at their strength and resolve to go out on such a rainy afternoon.

   The steam flows fast but is dirty.  I believe this is from the rainfuall and the wash-off into the water.  I don’t know what to do about the water.  I’ll probably use water tablets.

   8:00 p.m.  I boiled the water plus using water tablets.  Made hot lemonade which was very good!  Prepared my canteen with lemonade for tomorrow.  Also prepared boiled water for milk for cereal tomorrow. (The water, by the way, is very clear since the rainfall ceased.  I judge it to be good water to drink.)

                        I am alone here

                        I keep looking for hikers

                        But glad they aren’t here!

                        It is revealing…..

                        My attentiveness

                        Prevents me from loving You

                        How unfortunate!

   These first 2 days have been real tough.  I have felt bone-weary fatigue.  I don’t think I could have gone another mile on either day.  I pray for more endurance and vigor.

7/23.  It is 7:15.  It showered again this morning but has stopped for the present.  I ate my cereal and will now have some quiet time.  How good it was to be alone last nite. A large limb fell from a tree around 2:00 a.m. missing the shelter a bare 6 feet.  It made a huge noise.

   I think of Sarge and his beagle dog, Trail.  He has “adopted” the dog since leaving Damascus.  A hiker left him with Sarge to find its owner.  When not able to do so and there being no humane society in Damascus, Sarge had been caring for him as they hike.  He plans to “flip-flop” to Maine and is only going with Trail, seeking auto transportation with another hiker who also has a dog.  He has quite a caring spirit. He says that “a dog is totally dependent on a human caregiver.”

   Devotion: Hebrews 4-6.  We are to exercise faith, else the promises and salvation go for naught.  Be not like the Israelites in the desert who rebelled against God.  We are double blessed, having a high priest in heaven who intercedes for us.

                        Dampness everywhere

                        To keep stuff dry is vital

                        Care must be given.

   I now have quiet time for prayer.  I pray for family, spiritual directees, the church, fellow hikers, others in stressful circumstances.

7/23  At 11:30 I arrived at Matts Creek Shelter.  It is another beautiful shelter alongside a flowing creek.  Two teenage girls just went past in the creek!  I believe they are counting (!) the trout which are easily visible.  I had a very good hike, crossing the James River on a long bridge (Highway 501).  It is damp, cooler, and no sun—a foggy misty day.  A welcome after the sweltering heat of the first two days.

   This morning I saw on the trail a copperhead and a box turtle.  I gave them both their space.  Also I found a large growth of ripe blueberries.  I ate quite a few!

   The trail was good—up and down.  Best of all, I felt good!

   I leave from here in a few minutes headed to the old Marble Spring Shelter, now disassembled.  I hope to camp there near water for tonite.

7/24.  It is 12:0 noon.  I am at the Thunder Overlook, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The sun is trying to peak through the clouds and I have spread out my sleeping bag and other wet clothes and gear to get the benefit of the breeze and what little sun there is.  This is a welcome place!  This is just what I need after being in a torrential rain all last nite.  I slept under a sheet of plastic, spread over a rope tied between 2 trees.  When I got to the campsite, the Marble Springs Campsite, formerly a shelter which has been dismantled, it began to rain.  It was around 4:30.  I immediately scouted out a place for the plastic.  It was tough finding suitable trees and ground. After setting up at one set of trees, I ruled it out after a huge puddle formed from the rain.  I chose another place.  In the meantime during the first downpour I started the stove and boiled 3 cups of water I had gotten at a spring some 100 yards downhill.  I ate soup and the terrioki rice while it rained.  The hot food was delicious and my body needed it.

   After eating, with the rain still falling I put all the food in a plastic bag and tied it up in a tree.

   I spread the plastic which was too narrow (thanks to my trying to cut down on weight in my pack!!) over the rope and tied the corners to sticks and rocks.  It was very low and difficult to get under.

   I took off my soaked clothes and put on a dry, long-sleeve shirt and dry short pants and climbed into my bed at 7:00 o’clock!  It rained all nite and at times quite heavily.  Toward morning I felt some water on the pad and in the sleeping bag.  Really, considering the heavy rainfall I came out pretty good. I was very thankful.

   This morning at 6:30 I got out, put on my soes with dry socks and broke camp as swiftly as possible, being on the trail by 7:30.  I ate no breakfast but took my vitamins, E vitamin and 2 ibuprofen.  The hiking was strenuous but I was thankful for my good health and strength.

   I wish the sun would come out!  I’ll take my Quiet Time here and then hike the 1 mile to tonite’s shelter.  I probably will build a fire to get more drying if the sun doesn’t appear to do a much better job!!

   Hebrews 7-8.  Jesus is the priest after the order of Melchizadek, an eternal priesthood, a priesthood for the new covenant, better than the old covenant.

   At 3:00 I arrived at the Thunder Ridge Shelter, hiking through another downpour!  Finally the sun came out and I put up a clothesline and hung out the wet clothes, the sleeping bag, and some of the plastic bags and other food containers.  Some drying happened, especially the sleeping bag.  I hope not to have to camp outside again during this hike.  Another thru-hiker is here, a fine young man who started in May.  He seems to be a “sane” thru-hiker who is not trying to set any speed or distance records.  He has just finished college.

   I’m washed and “brushed” (??) for the evening.  Had a delicious Lipton Chicken Broccoli Noodle dinner.  Very good and very filling.  (I added milk and butter buds which the instructions called for.)  Also, I had butterscotch pudding, really good.  Also some fruit punch which is O.K.  I was quite hungry, having eaten no breakfast and only peanut butter honey and a chewy bar for lunch.

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