Gut Rumbles

August 18, 2004


The Appalachians look small to me after seeing the Cascades and the Rockies. The old hills of Kentucky appear worn, weathered and weary compared to those robust mountains that seem to reach up and puncture the sky out west. Yeah, those mountains are taller and more impressive than where I grew up. I loved seeing them.

But those hills, those old, old hills where I come from still hold a majesty to ME that no other place on this earth can duplicate. I look at them and feel as if I'm still sitting on Grandma's knee, listening to her sing a sad coal miner song while she sews shuck beans and hangs them in long bunches on thread.

I like the way those mountains smell, and I like the taste of cold water from a spring that flows straight from rocks older than time. I've hiked all over those mountains and I've spent many a night around a campfire with a swift-running creek singing me a serenade at night. Water rushing over rocks sounds like rainfall when you pull your sleeping bag tight around you and drift off to sleep in the woods, in the mountains.

The Cascades and the Rockies are like me when I was young--- They are vigorous and bold, rough and ready, tall and strong. The Appalachians are like me NOW--- tired and worn-down, ready for rest and not in a big hurry anymore. Those mountains are peaceful.

I like that quality in mountains.


Forgive my ignorance. I'm a country gal at heart, but I was raised in the city. What does it mean to "sew shuck beans"?

Posted by: Denise on August 18, 2004 03:29 AM

I'm feeling ya. I was born/raised in southern West Virginia and I love those mountains. I haven't been up home in over three years, but I have a strong aching inside of me to return home and sink into life there again. There's something very majestic about the hills and the people. Anyone from that area just wouldn't know what it feels like.

Posted by: Gennie on August 18, 2004 07:22 AM

For me it is the golden amber waves of grain. Where I was raised there was nothing but wheat and hedgerows as far as the eye can see. I miss the days snapping beans and shelling peas with my Grandma. I think I'll take a trip back in a few weeks. I am just a lil ole Kansas farm girl after all!

Thanks for the inspiration!

Posted by: Chelle on August 18, 2004 08:29 AM

There are three views that I consider the most beautiful in the world. One is a bit cliche'd, and that is watching the sun rise on the coast of Maine. Another is watching the sun set in the Mojave. The last is early morning in the appalachians or the mountains of Maine, watching the misty fog slowly burn off as the sun rises, I could sit and watch it forever.

Posted by: Mythilt on August 18, 2004 09:38 AM

I'm with you on Maine. My dad's an old Mainer, and we used to spend time up in the far north, Caribou and Presque Isle. The pines take on a darkness in the early morning, when all the air is soft and grey and you can see whorls and eddies if you look hard enough. Even in the summer, early mornings are crisp and cold and shake you to your bones enough to rattle your teeth. And watching the sun set over Mouth Khatadin is mystical and mysterious. I can see why the tribes up there call that a holy place.

Posted by: Mamamontezz on August 18, 2004 12:37 PM

I grew up in the mountains of New Mexico; now I live in Oregon. To me, a mountain is something with a timberline and a desert peak. If there are trees all over it, it's a hill.

Just how close did you get to a volcano, while you were out here? You might want to come back sometime and get up close to the base of Mount Adams. Adams rises 10000 feet above the surrounding terrain; it's about twice the size of Rainier, though not as high. I walked right over the top last year, from the North Cleaver to the South Spur.

Here's something you might not expect: the Cascades volcanoes, which are far and away the biggest mountains in the States, are made of the most decrepit rock imaginable. The Eastern mountains may be mere wrinkles in the fabric, but at least their bedrock is hard. The volcanoes are sagging, crumbling, sulfur-stinking heaps of shattered slag and dust, plastered over with ice.

There's some beautiful land in Kentucky, where big trees grow on and among sandstone bluffs. But I can never live there. I spent a year back in Connecticut, where they call hills mountains and you tunnel through jungle everywhere like a flea on a hairy dog. Never again. I need real mountains and wide-open prairie; I need to see out.

Posted by: dipnut on August 18, 2004 02:27 PM

Be in those mountains at sunrise and watch the the fog run through the trees like the ghosts of Indian warriors. If you don't feel spiritual when you see that, you're not alive.

Posted by: Acidman on August 18, 2004 03:23 PM

Well, I haven't seen it, so I can't say for sure.

Posted by: dipnut on August 18, 2004 07:35 PM

Well said, I've camped and hiked many miles in the Appalachian Mountains. I'm in NC and spend as much time as I can up in those old mountains, there's nothing better....

Posted by: Jeff Swanson on August 18, 2004 11:06 PM

Having hiked over the Smoky Mountains, the Cascades and Rocky Mountains, I have to say that my body aches more after hiking on the Smoky Mountains, because they have been compacted more than any other mountain range in this country because these mothers have been subject to more adverse events over their lifetime. They have been taller than the Cascades and the Rockies and don't get enough respect despite their resume. Well, they get respect from my Yankee Doctor when I come crawling/limping after spending a weekend/week there and he asks what the hell I have been doing to warrant a visit to him. Not only is he a Yankee, his parents are from Russia and he knows of the Applachians and how they can kick ass into the flank of any weekend warrior or this fat ass Yankee...however, I have to disclose I was born in a hallway of a Quanset Hut at Camp Le June, North Carolina. So I might have just a slight preference of things on this side of the country...nothing that is anything wrong with that...but is how it should be.

The Smoky Mountains will never look as pretty as those mountains in Montana, in our lifetime, but when my right knee calls out for WD-40 on the way down, I know who my master is and it is not anywhere west of the Eastern Time Zone.

Have I made myself clear?

Posted by: James on August 18, 2004 11:45 PM

I'll remain rooted in the Blue Ridge, with occasional Western Adventures.

An Appalachian mountain can kill just as quickly as a Rocky. Mountains demand respect.

Posted by: Brett on August 19, 2004 01:19 AM
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