Green Mountains Walking

In his book “The Practice of the Wild,” Gary Snyder quotes from the writings of 13th century Japanese Zen Master Eihei Dogen (1200-1253).  One quotation in particular from Dogen’s Mountains and Waters Sutra caught my attention:

Mountains’ walking is just like human walking. Accordingly, do not doubt mountains’ walking even though it does not look the same as human walking.

— Dogen

What could Dogen have meant, I wondered, by mountains’ “walking”?

There seemed no better way to answer this question than to head out to the Catskill Mountains and with some luck catch them in the act of walking.  And so, with a shout for Odie, off we went.

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Green Mountains Walking

Chasing the Wind

The way the winds dash about among the Catskill Mountains’ highest peaks, it sometimes seems like each gust has a separate purpose:  one tussles with a particular tree, another darts down the slopes, while others roar overhead en route to distant locations.

A couple of weeks ago the weather forecast caught my attention: a major front was moving across the region, and heavy rains were predicted.  I thought of how John Muir once hiked out into the Sierra Mountains to observe a gale:  “When the storm began to sound, I lost no time in pushing out into the woods to enjoy it. For on such occasions Nature has always something rare to show us….”

Accordingly, I pulled out the map and began planning a quick hike in the Blackhead Range, timed to be in and out before the brunt of the storm burst upon the scene.

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Chasing the Wind