A SUMMIT ON A SUMMIT (May 27 - June 1)
Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.
Here a great personal deed has room.
-Whitman, Song of the Open Road
“Summit on a Summit” is a perambulatory gathering on the mountainous summits of the Catskills of individuals curious about how our creative practices, our selves and our world are re-shaped through the process of walking in nature. Each participant will be responsible for leading a site-specific workshop or lecture which explores this fluid, mobile and circumambulatory connection between our creative selves and our world as both natural and artificial. In addition to these structured presentations, a large portion of the hike will be devoted to allowing the spontaneous to unfold. The hike will conclude with a closing event left open for participants to present some “findings” or activity that comes to them through the process of the hike itself.
All participants are required to have backpacking experience and to be physically prepared for moderately strenuous hiking. Each day will involve 6-9 miles of hiking. SMT will provide both food and transportation to and from the hike starting location and NYC. Hikers are responsible for supplying the following: sleeping bag (rated to 32 degrees or colder), a tent, a suitable hiking backpack (recommended 50 liter volume), at least two 1-liter water bottles, flashlight/headlamp.
2013 Group Hike
In the Summer of 2013, SMT hosted its first, eight day, artist/thinker-in-motion group hike along the southern Catskills section of The Long Path. An international crew of 10 academics, documentarians, performers, musicians, visual and multimedia artists embarked on an 8 day 50 mile hike along The Long Path in the Central Catskills. As we hiked, “residents” engaged in various projects of their choosing from researching edible plants to adorn our dinners, to collecting their smells throughout the hike in efforts to create an olfactory map of our journey, to holding conversations about one’s environment and art practice. In true SMT fashion, unforeseen and spontaneous events occurred that turned out to be incredibly creative and interesting. On the 4th day we had a day of silence which ended in a percussive improvisation on an old Fire Tower upon Mount Trempor. On the final evening we held an Art Salon in a lean-to atop Hunter Mountain. Residents used a minimal amount of materials they brought with them, along with many natural elements, to put on performances, installations and readings.
“You must walk like a camel which is said to be the only beast which ruminates when walking.” (Thoreau)
There is a rich history of cultures structuring or de-structuring walking practices such that they yield some sort of heightened, creative or spiritual state. Examples include eastern practices of walking meditation, Christian pilgrimages, the modern practice of backpacking, Thoreau’s saunterings, ancient philosophical peripatetics and Situationist dérives. Emerson, Muir, Thoreau, Whitman, Rousseau, Socrates, Heidegger, Nietzsche, Kerouac and Basho are only a few examples of thinkers who believe that making and thinking outdoors, and in particular while walking, can bring about the most fulfilling and important discoveries.