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AT 2017: Day 126, Manchester Center to Lost Pond Shelter

Stand and be counted, stand on the truth

Hike with Gravity

A few days ago, a hostel owner in Virginia put out word his establishment would be closed over the weekend. He also warned hikers that motel rooms would be hard to come by.

I didn’t think much of this because I was much too far north of there and I didn't know what event was causing the commotion. Whatever it was, it was of no matter to me.

I didn’t know then that neo-Nazis, white nationalists and other crackpot alt-right ne'er-do-wells were planning to hold a rally in Charlottesville. If I had known this I probably would have just shook my head and thought little more about it. I would have figured nothing much could come of the rally.

Then when I awoke this morning I began to get more news about the events in Charlottesville. I learned the rally turned violent. More than 30 people were injured, and a young woman was killed when a protester rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Weather Mostly sunny with a high temperature in the mid 70s
Trail Conditions Some mud, but drier; long climbs
Today's Miles 14.8 miles
Trip Miles 1,665.5 miles

I also began to learn about what was going on at home. While those racist and anti-semitic idiots were protesting in Charlottesville, my older son was outing them on his Twitter account. His account had a couple thousand followers and would soon grow much larger. With Twitter he showed the world the kind of people these protesters were.

The protesters were no longer content to hide behind their white hoods, so my son gave them the publicity they sought, though not in the manner they wanted. He and his followers called them out for their vile message and their hateful acts.

I smiled with pride as I learned what was going on.

I didn’t realize then the cost of what he was doing.

Although our host, Jen, told us yesterday she wouldn’t feed us, she did give us some coffee cake and coffee this morning.

Van Man offered to drive us back to the trail. It took a little effort, but after loading Becky, Stick, me and his son Darrin, along with all of our gear, into Van Man's mini-van, we left just after 8 a.m. Our first stop was McDonalds for our second breakfast.

Spillz and Skywalker arrived at the trailhead at about the same time we did. Then we headed up the trail together and began a three-mile climb up Bromley Mountain.

Over that span the trail went up 1,400 feet, the last of which was on a broad path cleared for a ski run.

The mountain is part of a large ski resort.

You might say the resort was built on beer. It was started in the 1930s by Fred Pabst Jr., the son of the founder of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

At the top of the mountain was a ski lift that looked like a space ship.

The resort stays open in the summer by operating several attractions, including an alpine slide and zip lines. I didn’t take time to check those out, but I did enjoy the view.

I remained at the top for several minutes to check my messages. It was here that I discovered a voicemail message left on my phone by a CNN producer. He had somehow gotten my number and was trying to reach my son.

I forwarded the information to him, and learned in his reply that several other news outlets were also trying to reach him for interviews.

I also found out the racists weren’t taking kindly to the publicity my son was giving them. He told me they had published his phone number, home address, and email addresses, plus his wife’s and in-laws’, my wife’s and mine.

Then I checked my Facebook feed and discovered racist replies to some of my posts. I quickly deleted them.

On the descent from Bromley Mountain I noticed a plant I had not seen so far on the trail, or at least not in this form. It was the Bluebead lily. Its flower petals had given way to a cluster of round blue berries with a porcelain texture.

After a lunch stop at an overlook on Styles Peak, I continued on.

It felt like old times when I saw Extra Mile, followed soon by Leapfrog. They were slackpacking again, just as they had been in Pennsylvania.

Leapfrog told me the trail ahead was easy and flat.

For the time being, she was right. The trail wasn’t difficult as it went along Griffith Lake.

Within a few miles, though, the trail became more challenging. It wasn't long and steep, but there was a difficult climb over a rock face. This was on the lead up to Baker Peak.

The top of the mountain flattened out and was exposed enough to provide good views of the range of Taconic Mountains.

As I neared Lost Pond Shelter I noticed Stick's red bandanna hanging from a sign pointing to the shelter. That was his signal to me that he and Becky had decided to stop at the shelter instead of continuing another 1.7 miles to the next shelter.

It was now 7 p.m. and I was glad for the chance to stop early. This had been an emotional day.

I felt pride as I thought about my son. He was using a creative and effective way to stand up to and condemn racists and their hateful acts.

Slowly, though, I was beginning to understand this was being done with personal risk, and it was a risk not just for him, but for his family. With our contact information now published, threats had been made to all of us.

Maybe these threats were shallow and baseless, but they were enough to give him pause. He called each of us to make sure we were on board and understood the risks of his actions. We all wondered if it was smart to fight crazy people and call out their hate.

Yes, we all agreed, it was. It needed to be done.

I want to stand alone in front of the world and that oncoming tank
Like that Chinese boy that we all have to thank
He showed us in a picture that I have mounted
Exactly what it means to stand and be counted

Stand and be counted, stand on the truth
Stand on your honor, stand and be counted


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine." ref.