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Backpacking with the SaintsWilderness Hiking as Spiritual Practice$
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Belden C. Lane

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199927814

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199927814.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 14 June 2021

Solitude: Bell Mountain Wilderness and Søren Kierkegaard

Solitude: Bell Mountain Wilderness and Søren Kierkegaard

Chapter:
6 (p.73) Solitude: Bell Mountain Wilderness and Søren Kierkegaard
Source:
Backpacking with the Saints
Author(s):

Belden C. Lane

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780199927814.003.0015

It is an uncommon gift to have a mountain to yourself. Pulling up to the trailhead for the Bell Mountain Wilderness Area, I saw no other vehicles parked there and began to hope for as much. I noticed that the dirt road into the area hadn’t been graded recently. Another good sign was my having to wipe spider webs from my face every hundred yards or so as I hit the trail. Obviously no one had been there for a while. But the real treat was reaching the top of the mountain and finding nothing. A favorite campsite lay empty, nestled in the rocks just above the treetops. From there you can look out onto thousands of acres of oak- and hickory-covered hills to the east. Not a road or a building in sight, nothing but trees. Bell Mountain is one of eight protected wilderness areas in Missouri. It is named after a family that once lived and farmed along its 1,700-foot ridge. I’d gotten a late start that day and the sun was going down by the time I set up camp. But sunlight on a late April afternoon, filtered through the yellow-green growth of new leaves, can be stunning. I sat on a rock ledge, cutting up potatoes, onions, and carrots for mulligan stew, watching shadows creep up the hills across the hollow. Putting the vegetables in a pot, I added fresh basil and rosemary, topped it off with ground beef, and washed it down with a shot of Grand Marnier as night came on. I delight in the solitude of these trips, but I’m not always sworn to a monastic austerity. Bell Mountain is a good place for the study and practice of solitude. I’ve sat there for hours with only the dog beside me, watching red-tailed hawks and turkey vultures soar on thermals rising from the forest below. Now and then you’ll see a lone eagle high overhead, though generally they nest closer to the river. Bald eagles are common in Missouri, especially in winter.

Keywords:   attentiveness, community, discipline, eagles, fear, poustinia, religion, simplicity

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