The Ministry of Happiness
Happiness is Art – Great Paintings
Every picture shows a spot with which the artist has fallen in love. ~ Alfred Sisley
Tonight a collection of really amazing paintings, many you’ve probably never seen before, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
The Ninth Wave by Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky
The Annunciation by Fra Angelico
The Desperate Man by Gustave Courbet
The Death of Marat by Jacques-Louis David
Dante Illuminating Florence with his Poem by Domenico Di Michelino
Suicide by George Grosz
The Fate of Animals by Frans Marc
The Apparition by Gustav Moreau
The Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau
Self-Portrait with a Sunflower by Anthony Van Dyck
Quotes About Happiness, Gratitude & Kindness
Some quotes to help you have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: My Favorite Posts So Far
So tonight a post of posts if you will, below you will find some of my favorite posts I’ve done surrounding my time on the Appalachian Trail so far this year, enjoy ~ Rev Kane
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Trail Community – A post about the amazing community that forms along the trail.
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Three Important Questions – A post about a new way to journal while I’m on the trail and I have to say it’s been an absolute success.
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Quitting the trail – Probably my favorite post, it talks about quitting the trail, but more importantly what people have accomplished and the respect they deserve for even attempting the trail.
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Landscapes – A series of photos I’ve taken of the natural environment on the trail.
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Selfie Progression – A series of selfies I’ve taken over time while on the trail often with other hikers.
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Learning Acceptance – The trail is a great teacher and acceptance is one of the lessons it has taught me.
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: A Start – My pre-hike thoughts about the trail.
Happy News – June 28, 2015
Our occasional romp around the web to bring you the type of good news you never find on your local or cable news, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
Happy News – June 26, 2015
Our regular tour of the web to bring you the kind of positive news the regular news won’t bring you. Enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: Learning Acceptance
When you set out to do a long-distance thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail you know a few things in advance. You know it will be hard, you know you will be dirty and wet and smelly. You know you’ll likely loose some weight. You also know that that you will go through some form of transformation, you’ll change in some way, maybe many ways. One of the things that hit me recently while hiking in Vermont and Massachusetts was that the trail teaches you acceptance.
You see when you are out on the trail, life is simplified to the basics, food, shelter, the weather. The simple fact is that many of the things you deal with each day are completely out of your control. On the trail you have to accept the topography, whether you will climb big hills, do sharp descents walk over rocks and in muds to on heavenly flat trails, you just have to walk the trail. I’ve taken to not asking hikers I pass going the other way about the trail ahead, it doesn’t matter. I know the profile from the guide I carry, but whether it will be hard or easy is first a matter of opinion, and secondly it doesn’t matter. No matter what the trail holds, we’re going to walk it, so what’s coming really starts to not matter, it’s just another hill man. You have to accept the trail for what it is and even more importantly find happiness in not only smooth descents, but in the hard climbs and the rocky trails. If you can’t get to this point, the trail can be a very hard place indeed.
The other big thing on the trail that you have absolutely no control over is the weather. We all know that we will get rained on while we are on the trail. However, sometimes it can be a bit daunting. Starting the trail in early March it rained, sleeted or snowed 12 out of the first 14 days on the trail. It was a bit much, it almost broke me, I hadn’t quite gotten to the point of acceptance yet. This past week on the trail we got wet and basically stayed at least damp the rest of the week. When it rains a lot, the humidity stays up, your gear stays wet, it’s unpleasant but it is what it is and you will have weeks like this on the trail.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you don’t take precautions, I blue blazed Albert Mountain in bad weather because of a bad knee and my poor descending skills. I’ve stayed an extra day in town or delayed returning to the trail to miss a day of bad weather. But once on the trail I accept what’s coming, this attitude has made being on the trail a much happier experience. Being wet, tired, smelly, climbing big hills and hard terrain is all part of doing a thru-hike and with that acceptance comes a level of happiness that leads to happy trail days my friends ~ Rev Kane
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: One Week, My Knees, VT & MA – Part 2
It is not the mountain that we conquer but ourselves ~ Sir Edmund Hillary
The trail up from Bennington back on to the Appalachian Trail and the Long Trail, (they run simultaneously for 200 miles), is a 600 foot climb consisting mainly of rock steps, a perfect way to start the testing of my knees. Our first day was a short one as we got started around lunch time so we decided to only go five miles to the first shelter on the trail. It felt GREAT to be back on the trail. We set camp that first night and I climbed back into my hammock for the first time in two weeks with a huge smile on my face. Even in spite of the horseflies that had mauled us since coming into camp. A friend of mine who had abandoned the trail some time ago due to injury told me that he dreams of the trail every night, I had fallen into the same pattern off the trail. So it was nice to be back out on the trail and return to the seriously non-trail related weird dreams I have each night on the trail.
In the morning, I heard my friend Bryan speaking to a couple of hikers near the shelter and he finished by saying, “I’ll send him over.” He then asked me if I rode to Amicalola Falls State Park with Survivor Dave, which I had, and then he said, “someone wants to say hello.” Heading over to the shelter I would find the three guys I rode in with that first day and who since I started 2 days later, I hadn’t seen since. It was a wonderful reunion and unfortunately I thought to get a picture a minute after one had already started for the day, but here are our pictures from that first day and our reunion.
One of the great things about the week we were doing is that we were heading south (SOBO), so there was a chance I’d run into other hikers who I’d met early on the trail heading north (NOBO). I never imagined I’d see these guys, it was wonderful surprise.
For the next three days we were doing seven mile days heading down the trail towards Massachusetts. The trail was a mess, lots of fallen trees and debris, there were a lot of rocks on the trail and a lot of mud. Especially after the skies opened up on our second day on the trail and rained all day. We even bailed into Williamstown, MA for the night to try and get our gear and ourselves a bit dried out.
The forest around the trail was beautiful, really different from the forest I’d been hiking in the south. This finally was the forest I’d grown up with and knew. We were passing by beaver ponds and even found some moose sign, several prints and scat. I’ve never seen a moose up close in the forest and hoped that would change on this trip.
We encountered a lot of NOBO’s, day and section hikers throughout the week. I think it was a bit weird for my friend Bryan to watch me be so social with hikers. I’m a bit anti-social in the default world but on the trail I’m not, hikers are kindred spirits and as such I’m much more open and social with them. We even ran into two more NOBO’s that I had met before, Robot and Drifter and Bostrich, who had not met but knew of as he hiked with Superman and Heavyweight, two hikers I spent some time with in the Shenandoah National Park.
The trail we were on was a good test for my knee. We were on wet and slippery trails, both Bryan and I would take our fair share of slips and falls during the week. We did some decent ascents and had some short but difficult descents over rocks and tricky walks through some rockfall areas and what seemed like a hundred stream crossings. The only thing missing was a fairly long day and so we decided to cut the hike short by one day and combine two of our last days together to do a sixteen mile day.
The sixteen mile day was the final test of knees that for the week had held up really well for five days under a range of conditions. It was also on a fairly flat portion of the trail so even though I was a little anxious about pushing the distance I felt confident my knees would handle it. I’m happy to say that in fact the day went well. It was a long day with a lot of hiking through fields and meadows and some really beautiful sections of the trail. Warner Hill was especially beautiful and full of loaded blueberry bushes that will make that spot absolutely heavenly in a few weeks when the berries start to ripen.
I knew waking up on the last morning would be the final verdict for my knees and my hike. After six days on the trail, and the morning after a sixteen mile day, my knees would loudly and clearly tell me what my future on the trail looked like. I’m happy to say that in fact my knees felt good. My right knee was a little stressed from favoring my left knee a bit but overall I felt good.
During the last few weeks I’ve figured out how I can proceed. It took some time but I have dialed in what braces to wear and how best to utilize them. I’ve realized my knees are not going to handle big days, so twenty mile days are not likely in my future and with the big hills to come that’s probably fine. I’ll need to work in scheduled rest days, zeroes on or off the trail and even some small mile days. This may mean the whole trail is out of reach, but that’s ok.
Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking; You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits ~ Cindy Ross
I really like this quote because it hits home now, being off the trail for a couple of weeks had been stressful in many ways. Life is simple on the trail, simple and good, and I long to get back out there which is why this week’s positive results for my knees was so rewarding. I may not get the whole trail done, I think it’s likely I won’t. But I will push north and then hopefully head back south to fill in the pieces I’ve missed. So, after a short, fun detour, and a bit of slack packing, it’s back to the trail for more happy days my friends and I’ll continue to bring you along. ~ Rev Kane
Appalachian Trail (AT) Happiness: One Week, My Knees, VT & MA
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. ~ Henry David Thoreau
So, for those of you who have not been following along let me summarize my life since March 7th. On that date I started a thru-hike attempt on the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. A little 2189 miles stroll up America’s East Coast mountain chains.
Georgia was amazingly hard, steep hills full of mud and rocks and terribly hard descents and as a poor descender I spent a lot of time swearing at rocks and of course falling. I almost quit on the second week, but I didn’t. Georgia gave way to North Carolina and long mountain ascents and much better trails, although bigger climbs I dug North Carolina’s trails. We then entered and exited the Tennessee mountains numerous times as we walked the TN/NC border. We walking through the Smoky Mountains with their beautiful views, bears and many regulations as only a federally run park can muster. We then entered the big state, Virginia, with over 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail and easier trails, or at least we believed from the profile maps.
I don’t have great knees, a genetic gift from my father’s side of the family and although I played sports through high school and a bit in college I had never seriously hurt them. However, they bothered me from time to time and I was concerned on this trip how the extra weight and walking would impact them. I found out early that if I pushed to hard my knees became sore, but a brief rest would quickly set them right. Eventually I started wearing small compression braces to help me out.
It was on the humps coming out of Over Mountain Shelter in a 45 mile an hour rain storm that I hurt my left knee. The wind blew my foot slightly to the side and it caused me to awkwardly step off of the side of a grass tuft. I spun off and went down twisting my knee in the process. Of course in a 45 mph rain storm, while soaked, in the open and with the thermometer reading in the 40’s, laying on the ground worrying about your knee is not an option unless you’d like to add hypothermia to your list of issues. So I got up and “walked it off.” I actually count myself lucky, another hiker did almost the identical thing that day on the same ground, the difference was that his injury took him off the trail immediately and to the surgeon shortly thereafter. After a two day rest I moved forward to Virginia.
The trails leading to Damascus are some of the nicest flattest trails I’ve encountered and I made good time getting to Damascus. However my left knee was incredibly stiff and so I took a full week there hoping to get my knee back to a near normal state. It seemed to work, I walked from Damascus to Marion, VA and got off the trail for a side trip to play tourist in Washington, DC. Concerned I didn’t have 2100 miles in my knee I bounced ahead 300 miles north of Marion and started the Shenandoah National Park (SNP). After walking through the SNP I headed for Harpers Ferry, WV along the trail which included a section of the trail known as the “Roller Coaster.” The “Roller Coaster” is 13.5 miles of densely packed ascents and descents, these are not big hills but 300 to 400 foot ascents and descents one right after another. We did 9 miles the first day and the final 4.5 plus some additional miles the next day leaving us with 7 miles to go to Harpers Ferry.
We finished the first day at the Bear’s Den Hostel and my knee felt fine, I was relieved cruised through the next day feeling great. However, waking up the morning before the final walk into Harpers Ferry, my knee felt like nothing inside was connected and side to side movement caused me shooting pains. Luckily, if I kept my knee from moving side to side I could go up or downhill without much discomfort. So I pushed into Harpers Ferry and pulled the plug for a time on the my hike.
I then spent two weeks rehabbing my knees in the Northeast, first laying at the beach for a week, (hey I’m on vacation :) ). Then doing some light walking back where my family lives in upstate New York. I had planned to hike a portion of the trail in Southern Vermont with a good friend from college the week of June 13th and this now turned into a test hike with heavy consequences. If the week went well I could continue my thru-hike attempt, if it went just ok, then I’d likely pick some sections after a rest and retire the attempt. Worse case scenario if the hike went poorly my Appalachian Trail Days were likely over.
Here’s a photo of Bryan and I, and my mother’s finger, as we set off from Bennington, VT on Saturday, June 13th.
The plan was to do a fairly light week, Bennington, VT to Lee, MA over 8 days, only a little over 70 miles but with some good and variable terrain it would be a good way to test my knee, let my friend experience a little bit of what thru-hiking the AT is like, and give us a week of time to spend together. So I nervously set out to find out what VT, MA and my knees had in store for me. I’ll continue this post tomorrow, have a happy day my friends. ~ Rev Kane