Tough as granite. Really?

Rangely, ME, Saturday, July 19, 2014 — I returned to Rangely today to continue my hike early tomorrow morning. Before I left Kennebunkport, my friend Ed taught me a new trick. First a little about Ed.

We first met Hashing in Panama where he worked for the Panama Canal Commission. After the canal reverted to Panamanian control, Ed stayed on to close the books and retire on the coast of Maine.

He’s also a busy guy, meaning he doesn’t know how to sit still. With manic levels of creativity, he has landscaped his property into a showplace in a neighborhood of showplaces.

It first started with mortar-free stone walls and morphed into granite. Then there are the flower gardens. Who knows where it will end.

I thought knowing how to split granite might be a useful skill to use at home and for maintaining the trail. So I asked Ed to show me how it’s done. After all, if he can do it…

How hard could it be? Turns out that breaking rock at its most basic level isn’t difficult at all. Learning how to read the rock is a matter for another day.

As we drilled the holes and pounded the wedges, it occurred to me that cracking rocks in two might be a metaphor for thru hiking. On the trail, as in life, being flexible and willing to adjust to people, circumstances or conditions is a productive skill. Otherwise you are at risk of being too inflexible and cracking like the chunk of the rock of ages (granite pictured below), and probably faster than you think.

The trail takes and the trail gives. An old hiker maxim says that the trail will provide. For the most part it does. Nevertheless, if you’re looking for perfection, without the flexibility to adapt to what you actually get, the end of your hike may be near.

That’s a hard lesson for those used to having the authority or resources to virtually dictate their will. You see, on the trail nobody cares about your title, rank or the size of your wallet. The trail doesn’t either.

It took longer to drag out the equipment than it did to split Ed’s rock. It went that quick. In those split seconds I realized that being as tough as granite really wasn’t that much of a virtue. Sometimes being strong isn’t what you think it is.

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Wow! Elapsed time = < 5 minutes!!!