Hazelnut coffee on the Appalachian Trail

Nestled between an actual rock and a hard place,
I woke to my first morning in the mountains.

Wine headache my first reminder of how I spent the night:
a bed of leaves, camouflaging the rather impressive set of boulders which would become my bedfellows.

We had misjudged our distance,
unknowingly beginning to climb a mountain,
which we were saving for breakfast.

With a pound for each year of my life weighing on my shoulders,
I was barely two miles in and already full of doubt.
I welcomed the thought of setting up camp,
even if it meant scaling a slippery slope to sleep on the side of a mountain-
anything to simply sit down for a moment.

It was as comfortable as you might expect a night spent of the side of a mountain to be.

When I awoke the next morning,
my shoulders were stiff and my doubts were heavier.

Knowing the miles in front of me,
and the night’s rest behind,
I begrudgingly agreed to hike a handful before breakfast-
the side of our mountain not being conducive to fire,
or truly to sitting for that matter.

We turned ourselves a little more upright,
back onto the trail,
our makeshift campsite behind us,
and turned our attention to ascent.

Though the climb could not have been more than a mile,
I felt as if I was traversing the sands surrounding Petra-
looking down and concentrating on the taped up hiking boots on my feet,
the same boots which walked my mother to Galilee-
I felt weak.

Doll Flats.
I was told this was our goal for breakfast.
And I had no idea what that meant.

Until I saw it.

As the climb leveled, a sprawling green broke through the trees just behind a set of winding paths and sleeping stone giants.
The very air felt as though it broke it’s sweat with me as we began the increasingly sacred hiking ritual of breaking our fast.

Though grateful for the great smoky bacon and the little humps of cheese piercing through my grits, it was soon eclipsed by the smell of boiling water hitting metal and transfiguring little course crystals into the most brilliant hazelnut experience I’ve had to date.

Mixing with the slightest influence of wine from the night before,
the metal of my Adirondack cup,
some earthy cinnamon and instant coffee created what would become my saving grace,
what would carry me 10 more miles
and what would launch an overhaul of thought and perspective.

I believe in the sacrament of hazelnut coffee.

I believe in Experience.

Hike on the Appalachian Trail // to “Big Rock Candy Mountain” by Harry McClintock


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