It was getting dark. Sunset was coming. I had a real choice to make.

The Rev. Robert L. Tate

Climbers at the summit of Mt. Haystack took this picture of Bob Tate when he was 42 years old.

Bob Tate loves hiking and climbing, especially in upstate New York, where his family has a “camp” in the Adirondacks. On this day, his goal was to climb the third highest peak in the Adirondack Park, Mt. Haystack.

I was running a little late. I got to the summit of Haystack. Gorgeous day. You could see forever. And there was somebody else up on the top of the mountain. And I have a picture of myself standing on the top of Haystack and you can tell in the picture it’s about three o’clock in the afternoon. So we started down. And the people who had taken the picture headed back down the Johns Brook Trail. And I was going up over the shoulder of [Mt.] Marcy back to my campsite.

Somewhere, I’m still to this day not even sure where, I took a wrong turn. And I ended up heading down a notch, a col, and I didn’t realize it for about an hour, an hour and half that I was on the wrong trail. And when I finally realized it, it was getting dark. Sunset was coming. I had a real choice to make. I didn’t have a flashlight. I wasn’t prepared to be out in the woods overnight. I either had to head down, way down, almost ten miles, down the Johns Brook Lodge Trail, if I could find it, or I had to climb back up over the shoulder of Marcy, if I could find that trail. And I decided—I was calm, I knew the woods—I decided to go back over Marcy and try to find my sleeping bag and my tent.

It got darker and darker. It was a cloudy night; there wasn’t any moonlight. And I found myself strangely calm, confident; I knew the woods. I knew that, probably the worst thing was that I’d … I’d hurt myself. So I went slowly, feeling my way along. And it took me hours, in the darkness, to edge my way up over the shoulder of Marcy and back down to Indian Falls.

I eventually made it, exhausted. I remember climbing into my sleeping bag, and the next thing I knew it was noon the next day.

But this was really kind of a threshold experience for me. It wasn’t just that I learned something: you don’t hike alone. But I’d always been the kind of person who did it my own way, who … the kind of man who never asked for directions, the kind of person who is always convinced that my way’s the best way. And this was very sobering. This was a very scary experience.

I found myself coming back from that trip in some ways a very different person. Maybe a little more humble, a little less arrogant. Not quite so convinced that I had all the answers.

There’s something about, I mean I know it sounds trite, that mountaintop experience, the exhilaration of being on the top of a mountain and being able to see everything from the Catskills to the Green Mountains to the Laurentians: 360 degrees. You know, there’s no place that I feel closer to God or more in touch with myself. And it’s not just on the mountain top. It’s the whole experience of getting up there and being on the top and then coming back down.

Regular Sunday Schedule

8:00 a.m. Holy Eucharist
9:15 a.m. worship.together (Eucharist for preschool families)
9:15 a.m. Parish Forum & Christian Education (Kairos)
10:30 a.m. Choral Eucharist

Other Days

Morning prayer is offered at 7:30 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Silent morning meditation is offered at 8:15 a.m. weekdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Mid-week Eucharist is offered at 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays, in the Mary Chapel.

Compline is offered at 7:00 p.m. on 2nd & 4th Wednesdays, in the Church.

Choral Evensong is offered at 5:00 p.m. on 1st Sundays, Oct.-June, in the Church.

We would love to have you join us.


This Episcopal church is located in the heart of the historic neighborhood of Chestnut Hill, five blocks west of Germantown Avenue at the corner of St. Martin’s Lane and West Willow Grove Avenue.

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