Tuesday, July 19, 2011

White Rock Trail + Birthday Snakes!

**Warning** This is a long post!

What a weekend it has been!

We celebrated our dear friend Caleb's 30th birthday this past weekend by hiking and camping on a trail off the Appalachian Trail.

The Gang
L to R: Amy, me, Caleb, Dustin and Stan

First, I can't believe I have friends in or near their 30's...I'm still only 20...something...wait a minute!  How old am I??  Really?? Lord a'mercy, I think I'm stuck in a time warp.

What I'm really wanting to share with everyone is the great time that we shared on top of some white rocks with all of God's creation shining around us.  It was a gift, for sure.

We started early and drove a couple of hours to Dillsburg or Mechanicsburg, PA and had breakfast at a local eatery called Wolfe's Diner.  It was right on the highway located inside of a little boxcar turned diner.  Very 1950's.  Think of the book/movie The Five People You Meet In Heaven.  I had a couple of hot cakes, scrambled eggs and home fries with a coffee to wash it all down.  Dustin sampled the, appropriately named, "Road Kill" Omelet...I won't describe it any further than that.  He liked it though. I feel like that could only be enticing to a man.

Checking out the Menu at Wolfe's Diner

After that we drove a few more minutes to the beginning of our trail.
Getting ready to hike

We hiked through a beautiful section of a relatively flat, woodsy wonderland.  Trees that reached to the heavens only letting a few glimmers of sun pass through made our hiking conditions perfect.  A pleasant warmth, ethereal scenery, and the camaraderie of saints...well, it all felt that good at least.

As we started ascending the mountain, I noticed the trail was lined by wild blueberry bushes.  What an unexpected treat!  I had not been a huge proponent of blueberries up to this point, but there was something about the fact that they were wild, and free for the taking, that propelled me into a sudden and deep love for the tiny, blue treasures.

I didn't take this pic, but this is what they looked like.  They are about the size of a pea.
When we reached the pinnacle, we paused for a break, unlatched our packs and commenced with our lunches.  It was a beautiful sight from way up high.

At the top

If I were to climb that way every day I am sure I would stand astonished every single time.  The beauty of nature and all of creation is just breathtaking.
Amazed by the view :)

Confused/pleased by the view
To be in solitude or with people you love in these kinds of beautiful spaces is a gift to be had. 

Enjoying a snooze in a beautiful place
After leaving that sacred space we moved forward towards our campsite.  Before approaching camp we made a detour and visited a place I would like to call Snake City, or Copperhead Road.  Please take the names of those places very literally.

Goofing off on a dead tree limb...

Our professor and friend, Stan LeQuire, is a man of the outdoors.  He contains a wealth of knowledge in many areas, but specifically when it comes to birds, trees, and anything pertaining to the outdoors.  He was constantly pointing out birds, whether by sight or by sound, naming different trees and plants along our path, and poking around for snakes.  Yep, he likes them.  He wants to find them. Crazy, right?

Well, thanks to Stan, this is what we found:

ELEVEN Copperhead Snakes nestled in their den beneath a rock. Yikes!
We spent some time marveling at the beauty and personalities of our new friends.  Most of my marveling was done from a safe distance, with one eye on the lookout for any more "friends" to come slithering along.

When we arrived at our campsite, we laid down our packs, took off our boots and gathered some wood for the fire.  Starting a camp fire is one of my favorite parts of camping.  We ate the most delicious Hobo dinner which consisted of chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots and italian dressing, wrapped up in aluminum foil and thrown into the fire.  Such a treat.  I could eat a meal like that almost every day.  What I'm eating right now is pretty good too, though.

Dustin and Caleb watching the sunset
After dinner, we hiked back to the pinnacle to watch the sunset; it was Caleb's birthday wish.  While the boys watched the sun go down, Amy and I were quickly and quietly throwing together a snicker's cake with candles for Caleb.   His wife Amy was the mastermind behind it all, I was just trying to be the shield from the wind.  We couldn't get the candles to light, but as a last ditch effort I said, "Lord please make the wind stop", and it immediately did.  It was pretty shocking.  The wind was still until Caleb blew out all his candles.  He wanted us to know He was present, I think.  
Rapidly singing Happy Birthday
Just in time...
Amy, Caleb, and me

We ate Snickers and sat around and read a few wilderness poems by Wendell Berry.  We then headed back to the campsite for birthday sparklers and glow sticks.  Courtesy of Mr. Stan LeQuire.

The birthday sparkler dance! 

We hit the hay shortly afterwards; Dustin and I in a tent, and the rest of our friends on a tarp on the ground outside.  Amy ended up joining Dustin and I around 2AM due to, "a bug in [her] ear".  Silly girl!  I wouldn't want a bug crawling around in my ear either!

Up bright and early the next morning, we made coffee and ate bagels around a fresh fire.  I feel like we sped down the mountain a lot quicker than when we came up it.  Probably because we new that at the end of our journey stood a refreshing creek, waiting for us to partake of it's gifts.

Planking...don't ask.
Swimming in the creek after almost two days of sweat and no showering was like a dream come true!  The water was frigid, of course, but it seemed like the solution to all of life's problems at the time.  The creek was clear and cold; the sound of the water rushing across the tops of the river rocks was like a symphony of angels welcoming the arrival of a very dear friend.  I embraced the water and it's icy touch with shrieks and gasps, knowing that in one swift motion the shock of this moment could be relieved.  I did it.  My knees caved; I let the weight of my body pull me downward, face first into the clarity of that place.  Frozen for only a moment, I resurrected with the will and the triumph of a thousand martyrs. Slinging droplets of joy in every direction, I could feel the chilly sting lessen, and the freshness and renewal of life increase.  What a thrill!

Then Dustin yelled, "Snake"!  I peed a little, then ran for the shore. We quickly realized it was just a harmless muskrat, enjoying the same swimming hole as us.  Mercy.

Needless to say, Dustin and I were exhausted by the time we arrived at home.  It was an incredible weekend.  Thank you for your birthday Caleb!

Keep Posted!

the rave


  1. I loved it all...but the snakes!!!!! Yikes!!!

  2. that sounds really like something I could easily get into, I'm so glad ya'll had fun and made it back safe!,,,,,Ravens Dad