Jun 21

Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe, by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr. ★★★★

Fault Lines is a presentation of the social justice movement from a black and Christian perspective. Baucham writes in an easy-to-read style, and offers a heavily researched account of the panorama of the social justice movement, from social “justice” to critical race theory to intersectionality to black lives matter.  Baucham brings into light how the social justice movement is intrinsically pagan and entwined with Marxist ideology while being in bed with the LGBTQRST! movement. Baucham details how the modern conservative church has fallen to the deception of critical race theory, and how it is destroying the church. At the beginning of the book, Voddie Baucham spends two chapters chronicling his early years growing up in Los Angeles and playing football. He goes to school in Texas, which is where he became a Christian. As a black man, Baucham has experienced prejudice against him and thus can speak from the heart. One chapter identifies events within his own Southern Baptist “denomination” that showed a strong leaning towards the social justice mentality. He also discusses the black lives matter movement in a full chapter.

A few years ago, it was very trendy to discuss the philosophical movement of post-modernism. The associate pastor at the church I was attended offered a lengthy class to teenagers discussing post-modernism. To me, post-modernism can be summarized in a short sentence, “Communication is not possible”. Such a sentence is self-negating, similar to the sentence “This sentence is a lie”. I bring this up because the basic tenets of critical race theory and the social justice movement are also self-negating. Critical race theory may be summarized by the statement “All whites and only whites are racist” is in itself a deeply racist statement, and thus self-destructing. Whether one is presented with questions of post-modernism or critical race theory, logical arguments can’t exist because the fundamental philosophical base for the two movements is nonsensical. What is amazing is how so many prominent Christians and Christian denominations have caved into the social justice movement.

Baucham is excellent at heralding the warning call to the Christian church about the devious and anti-Christian nature of this movement. Fault Lines offers a good summary of the basics of the social justice movement & critical race theory, and thus is a reasonable book to read. Baucham definitely has a heart for upholding the pure word of God, and his pleas for a true Biblical/Christian approach for issues of race are to be heeded.

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Jun 18

It is now about 10 days before I resume my adventure. Since it has been nearly a year since I’ve last backpacked, and since much of my equipment has changed, I saw the need to do a trial run. To accomplish two purposes, I took Sam and Liam with me, letting them become more independent, including using their own tent. I brought about 5 times the amount of food that I would normally carry, and the Flanagans quickly went through most of it. We hiked into Ipsut Creek campground, about 5 miles of relatively flat terrain, so it was fairly simple and it gave Sam and Liam ample time to mess around and do their own thing. On the way and at the campsite, we diverted to two waterfalls, Chenius Falls and Ipsut Falls, both rather beautiful.

Chenius Falls

 

 

One of many logs across the Carbon River we crossed to get to Chenius Falls

Ipsut Falls, where we also got our water



Crossing a dangerous log, showing off to a couple of female park rangers



I have no photos of our campsite, but the tents were the Zpacks Duplex and Triplex tents. We all slept well overnight, and headed out about 8:30 am to head home. On the way back, we stopped at the mines of MORA, a short little climb off of the trail where, in 1899, serious efforts to find gold and other valuable minerals were made. 

The Mine of MORA

The kids were awesome, and on returning home, were rewarded to Jack in the Box burgers. Hopefully, more adventures will follow.

 

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Jun 16

Indian Wars: The Campaign for the American West, by Bill Yenne ★★★★★

This book is a historical recounting of the Indian wars that were fought on American soil. While the book focuses on the wars that occurred west of the Mississippi, it is impossible to chronicle those conflicts without looking at the precedent in American history. Yenne begins with the earliest conflicts with the first settlers on North American soil and uses the first chapter as a lead-in to the greater conflicts that occurred in the western USA. It’s not that the Indians were new to war. Even during the conflicts with the European settlers, the majority of Indian battles were Indian against Indian. The first chapter is titled “Clash of Cultures”, and indeed, the entire story of the Indian wars were clashes of two radically different cultures. Though there were a few settled Indians staying for long periods of time in one place, the life of the Indians throughout North America was mostly nomadic, and much of their activity was that of raiding other tribes and taking their “stuff”. The European settlers only provided another source of “income”. Many of the Indians possessed extreme cruelty, and it was better to end up dead rather than alive in Indian hands.

Yenne details the pre-civil war conflicts, the few conflicts during the civil war, and then the major battles that occurred between 1865 and 1890. I’ll not discuss the entire contents of the book but summarize a few points. The far-west conflicts of California, Oregon, and Washington were settled fairly early on, with few major battles. The notable exception was the Modoc War which occurred in Northeast California among the lava beds in 1872-3. There were scattered limited conflicts elsewhere, in Texas particularly, but also scattered throughout the southwest and in Montana and the Dakotas until a concerted conflict with the Sioux tribes occurred. This was in 1876, the year of the Custer massacre, though battles occurred throughout the year, as the US Military pursued the ever-evasive conglomeration of Indian tribes. A year later, a series of miscommunications and misunderstandings between the US Military and the Nez Percé tribe of Idaho, Southeast Washington, and Northeast Oregon led to what were previously relatively peaceful interactions, into all-out war. The Nez Percé tribe sought to escape from the US Military by fleeing to Canada. The Nez Percé were among the most skilled warriors to ever be faced, and Chief Joseph, educated in western schools, among the greatest of all military strategists. Yet, the unrelenting pursuit of the military on their fleeing tribe ultimately led to Chief Joseph finally throwing in the towel.

Indians in the southwest region of New Mexico and Arizona were a nuisance to both the USA and Mexico, both seeking to stop the raiding and slaughter of settlers. The culminating events were the pursuit and capture on 4 (four) occasions of Geronimo, finally leading to Geronimo’s imprisonment in Florida. Based on Indian actions and the cruelty of the Apaches and Comanches, it’s a bit hard to feel sorry for them. The final Indian battle, Wounded Knee, occurred in 1890, with an attempted re-hash in 1973. The Wounded Knee conflict, while often cited as raw evidence of US aggression against the Indians, really does not stand up to the historical facts. The US military was concerned about a new Ghost Dancers religion among the Indians, and seeking to avert another military conflict, attempted to intervene when a battle broke out. There were a number of both US soldiers and Indians slaughtered in the conflict, but the Indians were subdued into submission.

The Indian wars are hard to analyze. After reading this book, I am more sympathetic to the American settlers who migrated into and across the plains of the midwest. While many Indians were eager to assimilate into European culture, many were not. The Indian Wars were the story of those resisting assimilation. The solution for the “resisters” was to funnel them into reservations, which gave the Indians a defined plot of land to use and abuse as they wished. Often, a war was created when otherwise unruly Indians refused to stay in the reservation (or assimilate to the living style of the US). To placate the Indians, government largess was steadily poured out on the Indians, which persists to this day. Thus, it was perhaps a poor solution to create reservations and force Indians onto those reservations. Yet, I don’t see any other reasonable alternatives. The book is quite thought-provoking. It has applications for many other situations that we see in the world and in the US, where cultural clashes create conflict. From a Christian point of view, there is a hierarchy of cultures, and some cultures are better than others, in so far as the culture follows Scriptural norms. An abundance of faults could be found with both the US Military and with the Indian tribes. Yet, the ultimate judgment is a cultural judgment, which I will leave to the reader to decide.

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Jun 03

Who’s Afraid of Classical Music: A highly arbitrary, thoroughly opinionated guide to listening to and enjoying symphony, opera & chamber music! by Michael Walsh ★★★★

This is the book that I should have read first before reading Who’s Afraid of Opera? This book was published in 1989 and thus is considerably dated. The Berlin Wall had not come down, and comments about “East” German abound. A lot happens in 30 years! He has no mention of any of the great performers after 1989, of which there are many. Walsh even admits that he is reluctant to make recommendations knowing how those in their prime in 1989 will be either dead or well past their prime in 2021. This book details how Walsh came to enjoy what we now call classical music. Walsh broadens the definition of classical music, though I find him missing the close character of modern classical music to jazz music. Walsh offers suggestions for attending a performance, and which performances to go to. He goes through a list of his favorite pieces, including symphonies, chamber pieces, opera, and then an assorted mishmash of other music that doesn’t fit a perfect category. He is quick to promote modern composers, suggesting that historical composers also were not greeted well by their contemporary audiences. There are reasons for that. First, contemporary composers are mostly coming out of academia, an institution that has truly lost its way. Secondly, like modern art, modern music no longer promotes the higher ideals, the organized, the structured, the better man in all of us. Minimalist music should not be surprised when it is greeted with a minimalist response. We listen to classical music because we wish to transcend the ordinary, and not to be dragged deeper into the mud of daily life. It is not the music so much as what the music is saying that I find repulsive.

Each chapter has an “interlude” that discusses a few favorite composers, providing their history, and a sampling of compositions worth hearing. Oddly, Baroque and pre-baroque music is nearly completely ignored. The reverence that is owed to Bach is missing, Walsh somehow placing Händel and Bach within the same category of “historical” or “pre-classical” composers—the plethora of wonderful composers, Buxtehude to Vivaldi, all go completely unmentioned. Walsh started his classical life with fairly modern pieces of composition, so it is no wonder that he is preoccupied with the contemporary drivel that we have out there. Even Walsh is willing to admit the serialism, atonality, 12-tone music, and the like, are mostly failed experiments with different tonalities. There are truly great contemporary composers, like Arvo Pärt and Górecki to name two, but they are unmentioned, perhaps because they are eastern bloc composers of no economic value to the west. If Walsh is going to throw Broadway musicals into the wastebasket of being opera or classical music, then much jazz requires similar treatment.

The book was fun to read and can be read in the space of one or two evenings. If one really wishes to gain an interest in classical music or opera, a MUCH better review, both in being entertaining as well as informative, will be found with Robert Greenberg’s Teaching Company series titled How To Listen To and Understand Great Music and How to Listen To and Understand Opera. Both of these series are highly recommended though they will occupy not just 1-2 evenings, but a whole month or two of listening pleasure—an activity of truly great value.

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Jun 03

Top of Mount Si looking at North Bend

It is now 25 days before I take off on my grand adventure, Act II. Act I was accomplished in 2019, though my intention at that time was to finish the entire PCT, circumstances of weather and snow levels prevented me from accomplishing my intentions. I had hiked 1000 miles of the trail and completed the most challenging portion, making it through the desert of Southern California. My plan at this time is to go from Walker Pass to Old Station, and then perhaps finish off California by also hiking from Castella, CA to Ashland, OR. If there is more time in the hiking season and the weather is favorable, I’ll also try to finish up some of Washington. If successful, this should get me in another 800-1000 miles of trail. I’m hoping that by next year, the Eagle Creek Trail opens up and that I might do the Eagle Creek as a completion of the Oregon segment of the trail. This would repeat about 50 miles of the trail, but then it is a beautiful trail that I won’t mind repeating.

There are several things that I have already taken care of. First is the purchase of my train ticket from here to Bakersfield, CA. I will hop a county bus (Kern Transit) to Lake Isabella, and then early the next morning, take Kern Transit up to the trailhead at Walker Pass, which will drop me off at about 06:30. The first 50 miles will be desert-like conditions, and so plenty of water will need to be carried. At 50 miles, I will reach Kennedy Meadows South, where I will pick up my resupply package, and then head off for the longest stretch without a resupply, 158 miles to Muir Trail Ranch. There, I will have another resupply package mailed to me. Which is another item that I have to attend to.

Resupply packages

The orange buckets and boxes are resupply packages that I will be mailing to myself. They are still open since I will not seal them up until the day I need to mail them. Most of them will be mailed before I leave town, giving them about 3 weeks to arrive at their destination. The blue box contains a scale—everything gets weighed. The ice ax will go with me on the train, though I won’t need it until I reach Kennedy Meadows; it is difficult to mail, but fairly lightweight, so not objectionable to carry. Behind the blue box and ice ax is my pack. I’ll have further details as to exactly what I’m carrying in a later post. Buckets and plastic boxes are used for many locations, since they are remote locations, and numerous critters can easily get into them and ruin the contents if they are in standard cardboard boxes. I keep a record of exactly what I have in each box and need to thoroughly think out what I will need for the section of the hike associated with that resupply. In South Lake Tahoe, I will also need a new pair of shoes. I use Altra Lone Peaks, which wear out at about 500 miles. I use them since they are super lightweight, and that I have yet to get a blister with those shoes. They are probably the most popular shoe on the trail, for a good reason.

Personal conditioning is also important, and I have been doing a number of day hikes with a full pack on my back, using the loaded pack that I will be doing the PCT with. I currently have adopted the Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60, a pack that weighs (empty) about 2 lbs but is very comfortable and well designed. It is currently my favorite pack for this sort of activity. Day hikes have mostly been in the Snoqualmie Valley and Issaquah Alps area since they are relatively free of snow. I have also included some of the grandkids in my hikes, though they do not carry anything but a raincoat and water for themselves. Here is a few photos of my adventures…

Patrick and Liam on top of Tiger Mountain #1. Mount Rainier is in the distance.

The summit of Mailbox Peak. Yes, that is this year’s mailbox on the summit.

Near the top of Squak Mountain Central. The original owners had a fireplace, which I assume was connected to a house.

I also hope to do one or two overnight trips, perhaps taking a grandchild or two. This will be within the next two weeks. I feel ready at this time to go, though with the usual pre-hike anxieties. To follow will be a detailed list of my pack contents, resupply strategy, and further training hikes of interest.

 

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May 31

Who’s Afraid of Opera: A highly opinionated, informative, and entertaining guide to appreciating opera, by Michael Walsh ★★★★★

I recently read and reviewed another book by Michael Walsh (Last Stands), and thoroughly enjoyed his writing style and conservative outlook on the arts, politics, and life. I didn’t think that a Time Magazine writer could possibly be a conservative. Walsh wrote a previous book titled Who’s Afraid of Classical Music, and which is supposed to be read first. Amazon just happened to mail me this book first, and since I’m between historical tomes and desired some lighter reading before setting out to hike more of the PCT. So, it’s this book, Walsh’s book on classical music, and a few other short historical texts.

I loved this book. I admit that I do NOT have a similar taste in music to Michael Walsh, but that doesn’t distract from the general points he is trying to make. I love many of the operas of the bel canto era, and he does not. None of the operas of Bellini, Donizetti, or Rossini were seriously discussed. Walsh liked many of the newer operas available, including some 12 tone works, serial works, and minimalist works. I have not found minimalist works as compelling, or interesting, or even expressive. Like Walsh, I’m not ready to throw out modern pieces. I’ll give Phillip Glass a chance, as I didn’t object too strongly to his classical works. Walsh minimized the work of Händel, which I also concur with. Sadly, Walsh did not mention the obscure operas of Bach, the most notable being the Coffee Cantata, which is really an opera disguised as a cantata to escape the radar of the Lutheran critics of his music. Walsh also misses out on the creative forms of music found in the background of movies. Indeed, Shostakovich wrote many film music scores, many of which are classical works of art in their own right. Wagner, more than anybody, set the stage for the background music for films for which we can be grateful. We have abundant examples of highly creative film scores, ranging from Ennio Morricone to John Williams. One cannot go to the concert hall to listen to the music of The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, yet it is most brilliant and creative, which in part makes the film as much as Clint Eastwood makes the film.

Walsh offers a capable defense for opera. He starts by trying to define “opera” while admitting that opera can be challenging to define. As an example later in the book, he would define most of the Broadway Musicals and A. L. Webber productions (like Phantom of the Opera) as actually opera productions. He is probably correct in doing so. Walsh discusses how to listen to an opera, and specifically what it is like to go to an opera. Naturally, one MUST do their homework before entering the opera hall, having a clue as to what the opera is about, rather than trying to discover that at the time of the performance. Walsh gives a listing of some of his favorite operas, many of which I agree with. There are gems that he totally misses out on, such as Wagner’s Parsifal, and the mid-career operas of Verdi (La Traviata, Il Trovatore, Rigoletto), which he aren’t as bad as Walsh suggests them to be. Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz was given only a passing mention, even though it was most influential in affecting the operas of both Verdi and Wagner, as well as everybody after Verdi and Wagner. And, it’s a delightful opera with lots of great music. Walsh shares many anecdotes that he had while acting as the Time Magazine music critic, meeting influential musicians and opera stars, and encountering the vagarities of an art medium in flux. Walsh mentions the personal hell that each opera star must go through in a performance schedule. Indeed, he is correct that opera has got to be the most challenging and demanding of all the possible art forms existent today. He was most humorous and provided several nights’ worth of delightful reading. I will be looking forward to reading his text on classical music (which should have been read first!).

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May 20

Killing Crazy Horse: The Merciless Indian Wars in America, by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard ★

There is so much wrong with this book that it’s hard to know where to start. I’ve always had a sense of Bill O’Reilly being a neoconservative hypocrite, but this book more than confirms it.

My first complaint is the book itself. The print is 14/16 point serifed text, with block headings using a very old decorative typeface that is close to illegible. A large text typeface as used in this book suggests the Bill has little to say but wants to make it appear as a full volume text. Secondly, the style of writing is written as though it was a movie script aimed at the reading level of 8th grade—scarcely a scholastic work. The chapters were short, incomplete, and often written in the style of historic fiction; details were added that contributed nothing to the overall aim of the book. Even a chapter on the death of Wild Bill Hickok had little to do with the subject of the book. Several maps were repeated, some maps were entirely useless, and nearly all of the maps were misplaced in the text, not being in proximity to the running narrative, leaving the reader constantly in search of the appropriate map for the text at hand. It is as though the book was just randomly thrown together in haste to achieve publication. Bill should have done better than that. But then, maybe he couldn’t?

O’Reilly offers no critical analysis of the historical events but panders entirely to the new liberal notions regarding the Indians. He always sympathizes with the Indians, and fails to point out that the Indian encounters with white man were a clash of radically different cultures. It’s not that a foreign entity encroaching on their land was an Indian novelty. Until the white man arrived, the Indians were in a constant war with each other for territorial dominance. Even before the final demise of Crazy Horse, he attacked other Indians that didn’t quite suit his fancy. The Indians had no concept of land ownership, leading them to imagine that their concept would be accepted by the European settlers who had a strong Biblical and Asian/European sense of property and land rights. The Indians were true savages. One never declared a truce or surrendered to the Indians. This was true from the start of Indian-settler conflicts. One did not expect the Indians to spare the elderly, women or children. One expected the Indians to savagely mutilate the dead; killing them wasn’t enough to meet their brutal, uncivilized tastes. The Indian “gods” were also savage, calling for self-mutilating rituals in situations such as in preparation for battle. Little mention was given to the French-Indian War, which set the stage for conflicts with the white settlers. Indeed, the Indians were used by all sides, French, Spanish, and British, as well as Americans, to accomplish their ends. Soon after the first settlements in Virginia and Massachusetts, conflicts with the Indians arose, mostly generated by the Indians themselves. The Indians widely practiced raiding (stealing) at any opportunity, and did not fit with the Western moral system. If the Americans could not be trusted, then neither could the Indians. The Indians had the opportunity to assimilate yet chose to wistfully hope that their lives of roaming the forests and plains would never come to an end.  The demise of the Indian world was from an absence of foresight on their part. Indeed, O’Reilly refuses to suggest that Indian behavior was troubling at best. Instead, they were the poor victims of a Christian culture.

It is true that there was some tendency for the white Americans to view the Indian in the same context as the negro, being somewhat less than an authentic human being. This was not discussed. Indeed, the greatest failure of this book was the need to write as responsible historians and at least make an attempt to give us a mindset that existed in America at the time of the Indian wars. O’Reilly does nothing of the sort.

I am thoroughly amazed at the number of Amazon reviewers that lavished praise on this book, some reviewers even calling it a great book or one of Bill’s “best” books. I haven’t read any other of O’Reilly’s books, and after reading this tome, will probably not pick up anything else that O’Reilly has written. Only a few reviewers saw the book for what it is, a piece of trash. Don’t waste your time or money on this book, as it isn’t worth it. There are better Indian war histories out there.

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May 17

The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America, by Walter Borneman ★★★★★

Like many topics that were taught in public schools, the French and Indian War was a war that was very poorly taught, and most Americans know little about when it occurred and the circumstances surrounding this conflict. Though the Europeans call this the 7-year war, it actually transpired over the span of about 9 years, from 1754-1763. The major players in this conflict were the British, the French, the native American Indians, and the American colonists. Spain was a minor player late in the war, becoming involved and losing Florida while gaining nothing. The French and Indian War was rightfully the very first world war, as it was fought throughout the world, on the high seas, in North America, in the Caribbean, in Europe, in the Mediterranean, in India, and in the Philippines. The war was essentially a struggle for world hegemony, a war to decide whether it would be France or Great Britain that would have world domination. Indeed, it was this war that turned Great Britain into the British Empire. At the beginning of the war, such details were not entirely clear. The British always maintained domination of the seas, and French ineptitude on the high seas cost it dearly. Yet, on land, the French mostly had the upper hand, having much better strategies and war delivery. The British suffered greatly under incompetent and weak generals, and when victory was won, such as at Ottawa, it was a weakly held victory that could have reversed hands quite easily. The French were not as interested in maintaining a North American colony as they were in maintaining military superiority on the European continent. The French lost North America due to their naval weakness, yet it was that French navy that decided the fate of the colonies in helping the British lose the colonies for good. History has its’ ironies. The Indians were another significant player in all of this. The Indians were used most effectively by the French. Indian favor was gained by giving them lots of gifts. When the British decided to cut off the free gifts, the Indians went on the rampage, where they remain to this day. It was partly the French and British attempts to manipulate the Indians that ultimately led to the issues that we currently see in forming a sensible Indian policy. British policy at the end of the war with colonists directly resulted in the revolt that led to the Revolutionary war. Those policies included forms of taxation to the colonists, as well as prohibition with the westward expansion of the colonies.

This is history worth knowing, and worth knowing well. Borneman is a master storyteller that keeps the reader interested. He writes well, and this book would be a very reasonable choice for those out there for learning about this most interesting war.

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May 09

09MAY2021  The PCT trail awaits me. I leave in 50 days.

I plan to return to my mission of eventually hiking through the entire Pacific Crest Trail, section hiking it over several years’ time. I would have preferred to have thru-hiked the trail in a single season, which I attempted in 2019. That ended up in an aborted mission for a number of reasons, the greatest being that it was a very high year for snow, and most of the people that I hiked with were either flip-flopping or dropping out. I ended up skipping around a bit, and yet the snow still seemed to be a deterrent issue, either from failure to melt creating dangerous conditions or from recent melting causing the number of mosquitos (misery) to be intense.

This year, I hope to do several sections. I plan on starting from Walker Pass and working my way up to Donner Pass. I am not totally decided on whether to go from Donner Pass to Old Station this year, being that resupply may be slightly problematic. If I skip Donner Pass to Old Station, I will jump up to Castle Crags (Castella, I-5) and proceed up to Callahans (I-5 in Oregon/Ashland). After coming home, I would like to complete further sections of Washington State. I have changed my plans a number of times in the past few months. Should I resupply over Kearsarge Pass/Independence, or push on? Should I stop at Muir Trail Ranch (MTR) or go another day and resupply at Vermilion Valley Resort (VVR)? VVR is much more friendly to thru-hikers, but is slightly more off of the trail, and demands yet another mountain pass and 20 more miles of hiking, which is added on the 156 miles you’ve already gone from Kennedy Meadows South without a resupply. Should I stop at South Lake Tahoe, which demands a hitch-hike to and from the trail, or should I do a limited resupply at the Echo Lake Resort? Other decisions will probably be best made while on the trail.

Many further decisions await me in the weeks ahead. Exact equipment remains a question. I’ve tried out several other packs and love the Gossamer Gear Mariposa. I’ve strongly considered switching stoves but ultimately decided on sticking with the JetBoil stove that I’ve used before. It heats water faster, uses less fuel, handles wind better, and only weighs a few ounces more than the more popular trail stoves. It is not as good of a cooking stove since you cannot simmer the heat, but then I generally do minimal cooking on the trail outside of heating up water or cooking Ramen noodles. How should I carry my bear canister? Inside or outside of my pack? What foods am I going to prefer to eat, knowing that one’s appetite seriously changes while on the trail? Questions, questions, questions.

Because I am going to be hitting a more challenging portion of the trail immediately after starting, I realize the importance of getting into trail shape. I plan on doing an overnighter or two. I will continue to run (more like… 1-2 mph crawl) up trails in the area at least 2-3 times a week. Hopefully, that will also get my excess weight down, and it seems to be working. This activity has also been fun and has allowed me to explore a lot of new trails in Western Washington.

Assembly of resupply boxes has occupied some of my time. It is hard to predict exactly what is going to be needed for each new segment of the trail. So, you over-plan a little bit, knowing that some of your goodies will be left in a hiker box. Too much of anything can become nauseating on the trail, and balance is most important. A person’s physiology changes drastically while on the trail. In 2019, I discovered that I was getting profoundly hypotensive, which ended when I stopped my anti-hypertensives and stayed only on aspirin and a few general vitamins. Like many hikers out there, aches and pains force one to consume mass quantities of vitamin i, ibuprofen.

I will not be doing hike-a-thon activities this year.  In 2019, I was participating in a hike-a-thon for Huguenot Heritage, an organization that is dear to my heart and worth hiking for. We did not coordinate well enough the development of a support structure, were late at setting up the structure for raising support, and then struggled with a terrible year to actually hike the trail (because of snow). Because this year is going to be piecemeal, it will add to the complexity of raising support. So, I am not going to engage this as a possibility for Huguenot Heritage or any other worthy organization.

Betsy has been my greatest support through all of this and has put up graciously with my adventure. She does not share my passion for the trail, preferring to engage in gardening and home pursuits. I am able to reassure her of my personal safety through the use of new technology, the personal locator beacon (plb). I have my Garmin InReach mini set to send a satellite signal every 30 minutes while I am on the trail, identifying my location. Thus, she is able to see my progress as I move further and further north. I am also able to send her messages via satellite, and she is able to send messages in return. As an aside, a few people will be receiving my daily plb notifications. PLEASE DO NOT respond unless it is vitally important or an emergency: each response takes up electrons on my device and I don’t have a wall socket at night to recharge anything. I will be up to 11 days away from the ability to recharge my devices. Back to Betsy. Part of the rationale for me section hiking rather than doing a pure thru-hike is that I will still have a moderate amount of time this summer with Betsy. She just happens to be my most favorite person in life, and life on the trail is always thinking of her.  She also contributes to my hiking by mailing resupply packages at the appropriate times, and for dropping me off and picking me up from the train station. Bless her soul for helping me.

I will be departing to Walker Pass with much less anxiety than in the year 2019. By now, I am most familiar with the routine of thru-hiking, waking up before dawn, sometimes heating up a cup of coffee, taking down the tent and packing your pack, taking off on the trail, singing the doxology, gloria patri and Constantinopolitan creed, walking for 2-3 hours at a time before stopping to rest, eating food that would normally be completely unacceptable off the trail, constantly watching your Guthooks app to make sure that you are on track, going occasionally to the point of exhaustion before stopping, setting up camp, cooking supper, settling in the sleeping bag, killing all the mosquitos that happened to stray into the tent, writing the day’s trail blog, and then quickly drifting off to sleep. Each day repeats itself with new segments of the trail, new challenges, new discoveries, new horizons, new vistas, new photographs. Someday (soon?) I will have reached an age that will no longer permit me to go long distances on the trail. It’s hard to know when that day will come. Until then, I keep my head held high and walk with a thankful spirit that God has granted me the ability to do what I am doing. Cum deo ambulo. Deus mecum et vobiscum!

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May 06

More Than Conquerors: An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation, by William Hendriksen ★★★★★

I read this book about 20 years ago and decided to re-read it because of its persisting value in defining how I read and understand the book of Revelation. Hendriksen speaks as an amillennialist, interpreting the book of Revelation as seven sequential parallel stories of human history from the first to the second advent. The overarching theme is that of the saints are more than conquerors in this world, a world that seems to totally beat down the Christian faith. When John wrote the book of Revelation at the end of the first century, persecutions were occurring and there was a great question as to whether or not Christianity would survive. Revelation gives seven recounts of Christians not only surviving but of coming out of the struggles of life as uber-conquerors. I’ve appreciated the amillennial view as a distinct improvement over premillennialism with its very bizarre means of forcing interpretations of Scripture that simply don’t flow naturally, and of post-millennialism, which forces a structure to Scripture that is highly inconsistent. I suppose that no view of eschatology is perfect, and even amillennialism has its inconsistencies, yet seems to read most naturally into the description of the present and future in the Scriptures. Some day it will all come clear, but until then, regardless of the view, our primary focus needs to be that of living holy, devout lives, never wavering from the truth of Scripture.

There is a sense of a story repeating itself in Revelation when reading the book from chapter 1 to chapter 22. Many times, the saints are drawn up into glory and evil defeated. These repetitions are easier to see once pointed out. They are as follows:

Revelation 1: An introduction to the book of Revelation
Revelation 2-3: The story of Christianity when viewed from the example of the churches (the lampstands)
Revelation 4-7: The seven seals (not referring to the Ingmar Bergman film)
Revelation 8-11: The seven trumpets
Revelation 12-14: Christ versus the dragon, the two beasts, and the harlot Babylon
Revelation 15-16: The seven bowls
Revelation 17-19: The defeat of the dragon and his allies
Revelation 20-22: Ultimate Victory through Christ and the new heaven and earth

A careful reading of the book of Revelation with the divisions as seen above will point out that we are simply seeing human history from different perspectives. The greatest perspective is that of Rev. 20-22, where the dragon (Satan) is bound, and the gospel able to go out throughout the whole world. This should excite the saints to no end. Amillennialism is NOT Pessimillennialism as has been proposed by others, but offers the most optimistic view of world history: Christ and the saints ALWAYS come out victorious against evil. The warnings in Revelation against the dragon (Satan himself), the first beast of the sea (world governments), the second beast of land (also called the false prophet, being the world religions and institutions of human construct), and the harlot Babylon (the seductions of wealth, economics, power, sex, fame, and unrestrained freedom), should alert the Christian of the attack on our faith coming in from all sides. We need not fear. We can peek to the end of the story and see how it will all come out. Those who are faithful are guaranteed to be more than conquerors.

I appreciated that Hendrikson did not just provide a summary interpretation of the book of Revelation, but also provided a framework for reading the book. His insistence in constantly bringing to mind the theme of the book of Revelation, of grasping the context and purpose for which the book was written, and of viewing Revelation not as a blow by blow account of the story of history but as providing general themes as to human history, all are relevant to having the best grasp as to what this book is saying. In reference to the last point of the book NOT providing detailed history, general events are those happening throughout the Christian era, such as the differing types of churches, the opening of the seals, the four horsemen, the blowing of the trumpets, and pouring out of the bowls, are all judgments from God happening throughout the Christian era, though perhaps intensifying at the end of our epoch. Henrickson is often very helpful at grasping the symbolism of the book, even though often I felt that many other alternative interpretations could still remain faithful to the text.

Others have since written commentaries on the book of Revelation based heavily on the model discussed by Hendrikson. The last generation of scholars has produced a new generation of excellent thinkers, offering fresh insights into this book that are not difficult to understand once one grasps the overall means of reading and interpreting Revelation. More than Conquerors remains on my list of top books of all time, and one that you also might consider reading.

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