Greene turns 49.

A cast of Dumplin Valley guys join to celebrate Pancake Greene's birthday at his palatial estate on the border of the Great Smoky Mtns National Park.

In all most every one of the crew participated in this wonderfully catered event.  Julie is to be commended as is Toad for his handiwork in finishing the mansion Jeff and Julie call their "weekend home".  We even had a celebrity appearance in the form of Snappy.  The DV group has been friends since 1984.  Most grew up together and I was 18 years old when joining the ranks.  There have been  many campouts, fishing trips, skiing trips and parties through the decades.  Ab, Jeff, Hitler and I reminisced about the early days on Hangover and Citico.  It's not as if the shenanigans stopped as we approach post middle age.  There was the incident with Gobbie's bicycle on Citico not too long ago.  Then Ab reminded me of the Tammy slide and Hitler had to bring up the infamous Norris Trout incident.   Jeff Greene is a guy who went to law school later in life.  He started his legal endeavors about the time I got into mountaineering at the tender young age of 38, thereabout.  He is proof that success is not time limited. (of course, I wish I had entered the mtn game earlier in life. Old joints creak louder with time)

The stories could fill a book.  It's always great to hang with the gang.

Because of this event, I did not hit the woods but am preparing for annual ice fun in Colorado for which I am departing on Friday.  If you didn't get to see or hear about the most celebrated alpine event of the year, I suggest you peruse this article that give a great perspective on the feat.  By comparison, the steepest grade of rock I have ever climbed is 5'10.(briefly, before falling, briefly from a top rope)   These guys topped out on a sheer wall that is overhanging to the point of 5'14 and took 17 days to finish.  It is history in the alpine world and a testament to human achievement.  When Reinhold Messner attempted Everest without oxygen, scientists proclaimed him a dead man believing that no human could perform at that altitude without succumbing.  Similarly with the Dawn Wall on Yosemite, one more human limit has been reached.


And finally, with regard to a comment I made last week about individuals who clicked off their Smokies miles and tucked away the park in their bucket list,  I was referring to a small number of individuals, one of whom wanted me to legitimize their miles. I found it interesting that anyone needs "certification".  That is for the Smoky Mtn Hiking Club.  I know a few people with whom I have hiked and have completed a great many of their miles with them.  Individuals who did their miles alone without a backpack for most of the time and seek "certification" should be treated as "suspect".  If your purpose in outdoor events is to put a trophy on your wall, then you are there for the wrong reasons.  Please refer to the Dawn Wall event if you do not understand.  I liken it to going into the backcountry to engage in debauchery for the sole purpose of not  having to risk a DUI.(Of course I am not referring to responsible adults who act accordingly with legal substances) They tend to have the same mentality.  Such is the nature of progressive addiction.  It is disrespect of the sanctuary as much so as cutting standing trees for selfish fire needs when a there is perfectly acceptable downed wood a few feet further.  That type of rationalization and laziness  tends to accompany aforementioned activities.  But addiction is laziness.  An inability to deal with life on life's terms. Of course,  if someone needs for me to legitimize their miles, they have a host of other issues beyond the scope of an outdoor website.  (disclaimer here, I have also known people who use illegal substances that would never cut a standing, live tree and retain their outdoor integrity.  Similarly with folks finishing their mileage.  Not all mileage folks have nefarious motives

  If you or a family member struggles with addiction, give yourself a break and attend a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.  If you are a family member who struggles to deal with your addicted relative, similar miracles occur in Al-Anon.  But be advised.  Recovery isn't for people who need it.  If so the rooms would be full.  Recovery is for those who want it.  And a great many do not, despite the damage they cause those around them, often unknowingly.

My career has been spent dealing with addicts and families of addicts.  As NA says, the ends are always the same;  jails, institutions and death.  Kephart sought the geographical cure and cleansing treatment of the Smokies.  But it wasn't sufficient and he succumbed in the same fashion.  He left a trail of broken ness in his wake but there were periods of beauty interspersed.  The folks of Bryson City learned the hard way that an addict will use you up until there is no more cash in the karma drawer.  Hard feelings exist to this day in the back of beyond regarding that individual but other groups attribute part of the park's creation to his musings.  Harvey Broom and Dutch Roth should be exhaled in the same breath with Horace.  Perhaps it was Kephart's tragedy that secured his eternal prominence.

What tragic portion of your humanity are you offering for the greater good?  Despite obvious lamentations for gradual decline in group outdoor activities, for the DV crowd, I can say that watching through the years they have all exhibited a exemplary legacy in the form of parenting some great future Highlanders. And that is what I would call a noble sacrifice.   For others, efforts exist silently in the form of varying philanthropic endeavors.  I know one guy that is on at least three non profit boards including SFW.

I will close today's sermon with a verse I heard quoted in a sermon this morning.  "I do not wish to be a part of any organization that would have me as a member!" Groucho Marx       I think that sums up the Highlander Code.   We belong. 

Happy birthday Greenbean.