Hiking around Roanoke is pretty good, and they have a big push to get people outdoors. One effort is a series of hikes called 7 peaks in 7 weeks. Well, a friend decided that it would be a good idea to hike the seven peaks in 72 hours, or 1 weekend. I was hesitantly decided to join the adventure.
We started on a Friday evening, by hiking Poor Mountain (appealing name). It was a nice hike, mostly in the dark. I challenged my eyes to function in low light rather than turning on my headlamp.
The next morning we started well before sunrise and hiked up Tinker, then traversed across to McAfee Knob (the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. The plan was to hike from there to the top of Dragon Tooth. Unfortunately we were slightly behind schedule, so we decided to hitchhike to the base of Dragon Tooth, (6 miles away, where my van was parked), come back and pick up the rest of our crew, drive back to Dragon Tooth, then hike up and down. We made it to the top about an hour before sunset, so we hung out for a while, watched sunset from the top, and hiked back down in the dark. After we got down, we picked up vehicles, and had a late dinner in Roanoke.
We slept a few short hours, then met again at a crazy morning hour to drive to Sharp Top and hiked to the top to watch sunrise. Our plan was to get to the top early and make coffee to enjoy while we watched sunrise, however our tiredness caused us to move slowly, and barely make it in time for sunrise. This was probably my favorite part of the hikes. There was something particularly amazing about watching the sun go down on top of one peak, then watching it rise again the next morning from the top of another. I watched more sunrises and sunsets during my time on the road than during the rest of my life combined. There is something so majestic about watching the light of our world come and go and come back again. I love the colors and the clouds. It is amazing how the best sunrises and sunsets aren’t when its fully clear or fully overcast. The best sunrises and sunsets have that balance of a few clouds, but not too many. On this particular morning, after sunrise we made our coffee and Neil gave an impromptu lesson on Abraham and Isaac on the mountain. We wandered down the mountain and made breakfast burritos at the base. It was really nice to be still and just chill for a while. From there we continued to Read Mountain and saw the city from Buzzards Rock. Then, we made a trip to Go Fest, an festival focused on getting the community outdoors. We wandered around there briefly, then drove to the base of Mill Mountain. Mill Mountain was our 7th and final peak. I was nervous as we started because I was flat tired. Fortunately, this was the shortest and most mellow of the peaks. We got there in time for sunset, but found out that it really isn’t the best sunset spot. It doesn’t have much of a view to the west.
All said and done it was an exhausting but fantastic weekend. A random highlight was sitting on top of Buzzard Peak, my least favorite of the seven, talking with my new friends. I made the comment that it really felt like we’d known each other for more than 2 days. This made me realize how rarely we spend long amounts of time truly getting to know people. Usually it’s a couple hours at most with new friends for coffee or something. We spent 2 days straight, hiking 35 miles on very limited sleep, and we were all still smiling. When I saw my friends smiling exhausted smiles I knew that this ridiculous weekend turned out to have been a great plan.
John 15: 12-15 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
When I think of friendship in relation to my Bible, this is the segment that stands out to me. I included the first verse, primarily because I love that command to love one another. However today I really want to dwell upon the sentences that follow. Jesus is speaking to his disciples and calling them friends. This is no little thing. The idea that I can be Jesus’ friend is almost unfathomable. How can my Lord and Savior really be willing to drop down to my level to be my friend? With this in mind, I look at the people around me and know that I should do my best to be a friend to everyone. I have no right or reason to judge or consider myself better than anyone. When I meet someone I don’t know anything about their life or background. I don’t know what they have been through or how they reached that point. All I know is that my Savior is my friend!!