Seriously? Math on the Trail?

With all the recent rain and uphill climbs, I’ve begun to wonder if I’m not missing stuff that is just outside my field of vision. I thought I might have seen a Sasquatch recently… but it could be another hiker with a rapidly-growing beard.


I thought about this quite a bit as I was hiking up a section called Jacob’s Ladder. Jacob’s Ladder was originally described in the Bible as a path between heaven and earth. I knew that the steep hill I was climbing wouldn’t lead to heaven, but I couldn’t help but wonder why we, with all of our technological advancements, why haven’t we developed a Jacob’s escalator yet? Maybe, if I looked around rather than focusing on the ground at my feet, I might discover some secret path that would help me get to the top so much more easily. But then again, maybe the climb itself is the point, rather than getting to the top…

Jacob's ladder

I’ve missed any possible escalators, Sasquatch, or unicorns on the periphery of the Trail. Instead, I’ve seen wild flowers (and mud and rocks and tree roots) and the snails that love the soggy soil (and mud and rocks and tree roots). I’m not sure if I was reliving the rowdy days of my youth when math was still magical, or if the recurring patterns in the wild flowers and snails shells triggered nearly forgotten associations. Nonetheless it amazes me to see the nearly perfect right angles of flower petals growing in creamy clusters, or the 3 layered purple petals that are perfectly offset at 120 degree angles to capture the optimal amount of sunlight or the snail’s shell that grows in a log rhythmic spiral corresponding with the Fibonacci sequence.

Flower clusters with right-angle petals

Flower clusters with right-angle petals




The Fibonacci sequence in nature

The Fibonacci sequence in nature


  • Reply Bunion May 10, 2016 at 10:54 am

    As I recall, some of the trails down there aren’t well maintained. Imagine the sadness to come to that escalator, and find it was down for service….

    • Reply Gabriel May 13, 2016 at 2:05 am

      Ha! So tru. However, I’m trying to be a glass-half-full kind of guy, so I’ll keep looking (and hoping).

  • Reply Monica May 10, 2016 at 11:06 am

    This is amazing ! I still don’t know if I should be jealous of the beauty you are surrounded by or glad I’m able to sleep in a cosy bed and easily reach anything I need.
    Happy hike !

  • Reply Scott (aka Dad) May 10, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    There’s no need of the escalator, unicorn or Sasquatch on Jacob’s Ladder. I’ll tie a bungee cord to the back of my mountain bike and give you an assist up the trail. I almost forgot..they don’t allow mountain bikes on that section of trail. I still gave it my best effort.

    • Reply Gabriel May 13, 2016 at 2:12 am

      Ha! i can’t wait to hike with you a bit further up the trail Dad… I’ve (almost) gained a degree of fitness that will allow me to keep up with you.

  • Reply Dave May 12, 2016 at 1:37 am

    Dave, of brothers Bob, Bill, Dave says hello. We really enjoyed your company into Gatlinburg. We did eat our lunch at Calhoun’s and had the ribs. Thanks for being part of our brother’s adventure and a great memory. Great fortunes on your trek. Dave from Louisville.

    • Reply Gabriel May 13, 2016 at 2:14 am

      Thanks for the ride and for enduring my hiker stench on the way into Gatlinburg!

    Now it's your turn to play!

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