High Ground 3

High Ground 3: Freedom Hikes

highground3-lgHiking brings liberation. In these freedom hikes, we find the most liberating paths of all: the hike to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and its copy of the Declaration of American Independence; the remote and legendary diplomatic path of the Iroquois tribe, forerunner of American democracy; the hike to the eagle pictograph of the Continental Divide and its native expression of free travel. Choose here among marked paths, unmarked paths, Canadian paths, American paths, beach paths, mountain paths – hikes to liberation.

High Ground III is an examination of the cultural, natural and political significance of high topography, shown through hikes in famous places; i.e, Monticello; Chincoteague, Virginia, and the Canadian Rockies. The geographic scope of the book encompasses Atlantic Coastal hikes ( 25% ), the Blue Ridge Mountains ( 25% ), the Allegheny Mountains ( 25% ) and the Canadian Rockies ( 25% ), with none of the hikes exceeding 6 miles in length. (Paperback) $15.95

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From the introduction of High Ground III:

map1Paths of the spirit run everywhere, different types of paths dedicated to the freedom that makes us human. These paths run through different places and have found their use at different times in history, but many still exist — physical paths through the forest or along the ocean, the spirit they represent mirrored in the land over which they run.

At Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts, runs an informal path of the people, an expression of the spirit of doing things one’s own way, and near that path, the Mayflower first sighted America.

In Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, runs a path through the clearings of mountain people who lived there because they embraced the spirit of being by themselves, living away from the distractions of the valleys far below.

The land reflects our spirit: the boldest species of trees growing closest to the Cape Cod shore, reaching to meet the boldest explorers stretching to reach the new continent; whitetail deer staring out with peaceful eyes, framed in the forested privacy of Shenandoah just as the settlers were.

drawing1This, like all the High Ground Books, is a topographical rather than geographical volume. Rather than enumerating all of the official paths in a given state or county or township, I cite the points of notable high topography and tie them together through their natural and human history. This touches the true nature of hiking, which involves the willingness to follow a route through the woods or create a new route over some hilltop with a history still to be recounted.

An excerpt from High Ground III:

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A giant spruce, splintered at mid-trunk and in decline, stood on the meadow’s edge. Near its base, a thin line indented the trunk at the point where a horse’s rope, or successive horse’s ropes, chafed it. Indians likely camped in this clearing and left this evidence of their passing, because that spruce stands in country unknown to Europeans until 1893 and only then explored at intervals. By that time, the First Nation Kootenay and Stoney had been traveling the mountains on horseback for 200 years.

The paths through these passes come to us firsthand.