Saturday, August 28, 2010

Where Has The Summit Gone?

Old Rag, Shenandoah National Park
Over the past several months, it has become apparent that this blog has focused more on shores than summits. After all, I do live on an Island. In less than thirty minutes, without paying any tolls, I can be paddling or sailing on the waters of Jamaica Bay. On the other hand, driving up to the closest summits, the Gunks, and climbing at the Trapps or hiking the trails of the Mohonk Preserve, takes at least two hours and costs over $10 in tolls, one way! The economics seem to dictate that I spend more time on the water than on the rock, and that realization has finally hit me.

In late May and early June, my family vacationed for ten days by car camping at the southern end of Cape Hatteras National Seashore on Ocracoke Island, NC. While on Ocracoke, we enjoyed kayaking in the ocean and sound. We took pleasure in an evening sail. We rode a small ferry across the channel to Portsmouth Island. These were all “shore” activities. The highest natural point I ascended while on vacation was a sand dune between our campsite and the ocean. The highest elevation I gained was the roof top deck at Howard’s Pub.

While I have not kayaked as much as I would have liked this summer, I have kayaked. I have not climbed. I have not hiked or backpacked. I have new, unused, virgin climbing gear in my rucksack. I have a new pair of high quality Merrell Wilderness backpacking/mountaineering boots I have worn only once. On the other hand, my new Werner Camano kayaking paddle, newer than my Merrell boots, no longer looks new. The neck gasket on my KĊkatat TROPOS Swift Entry Drysuit needs replaced before the onset of cold-water paddling. It seems my shore gear is taking a beating while my summit gear is well preserved.

This summer has certainly been a water and shore summer rather than a mountain and summit summer. It started with a two-week vacation at the shore and ended with a month almost exclusively devoted to boating. In early August, I completed the eight-hour course required for a New York State Boating Safety Certificate and for the past three weeks, my wife and I have been taking sailing lessons on the Hudson River. Last Wednesday we completed our course work, passed our written test, and are now US Sailing Basic Keel Boat Certified. I’ll be writing more about these two courses in upcoming posts.

With another paddle or two scheduled before and on Labor Day, and more sailing in our future, it indeed seems that the shore has eclipsed the summit. But a love of and longing for the mountains still courses through my veins and I expect that there are still a few summits in my future.

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