Thursday, August 16, 2012

High on a Mountain

I've been trying to find a moment to blog about this all week!
 
I hiked to the top of my first mountain last Saturday.  It was awesome, something I really should have done long, long ago.  See, I've hiked up many mountains part way in my travels with Matt, but I never really had the desire to climb to the very top of one.  I was so happy just hiking the trails I didn't at all feel I was lacking for anything in the experience.
It may be hard to see, but in the center of this photo...on top of the mountain...is a tiny little square.  This is the fire look-out tower/observation platform at the peak that we hiked to.
On the way up we passed a woman panting by the side of the trail.  She stopped us to ask what the point of walking sticks were.  She was from Missouri and was on her very first hike ever.  The elevation was killing her, but I was super impressed.  She was dead-set on making it to the top.  She also asked me if I knew what "those red flowers" were.  I was glad to tell her they were Indian Paintbrush, one of the few flowers I can identify without my guide. 
You can see the fire look-out tower again in this photo, just a wee bit closer.
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.
For many years I also did lack the strength both of mind and body to push myself that far.  I was always of the “It looks AMAZING from here! Let's stop,” mindset.   Some four years ago I camped along the Hyalite Lake, within sight of the trail leading to the peak and I actively chose not to climb it even though it was only a few miles to the top.  I was tired.  I was content to sit by the lake and look up at the peak.   I will still be content to look up at the peaks—they are lovely from any vantage point—humbling and inspiring and breathtaking.  But I now know the thrill of pushing myself up, up, up and seeing the world from the top, too.  It is like nothing else.  
 
Lewis's Western Flax.

Matt, comparing his map with the view as we tried to locate a few different mountains and features.  The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the divide between the trees in the middle of the vista.
Driving on mountain roads or hiking along the trails one is frequently caught by the thought that everything is so huge, so open, so endless.  The mountainscapes, the countless trees, the big blue sky filled with puffy white clouds—they seem enormous and stretch on to eternity.  It is even more so from the top.  It is like being on a magnifying glass that enhances the beauty of everything somehow even though it was already stunning.   Even through the smokey haze (caused by all the wildfires) I could still see on and on, over mountain ranges.  Over the millions of trees appearing as an unbroken velvet carpet.  The clouds seemingly so close you could reach out to them.  It was quite thrilling and quite freeing.
Yellow Bellied Marmot.
Exhilaration and triumph.

Happy to be at the top.  The woman from Missouri took this photo for us.   We were enjoying the view and a granola bar on a boulder at the top when she came up the trail.  She hadn't given up!  She was very proud to have made it all the way and we made sure to congratulate her profusely.  What a first hike!

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” - John Muir

5 comments:

  1. What a wonderful day! Love the view from the Mountain top and the creatures are awesome!

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  2. Those are beautiful views. I never did see the fire tower. Check to description under the second picture and see if you left something out to hlep identify where it is.

    So, what is the purpose of a walking stick? Maybe another post? When I walked around the house with my long hoe with the small head, looking for something trying to get my hens, I thought it was restful to use the hoe as a walking stick. But, I might have been doing it all wrong.

    If I used a walking stick, its main purpose would be for snakes and two-legged snakes--to hit them.

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    Replies
    1. Well, it was pretty far away in the photos. Even when you enlarge them (by clicking on them) the tower is just a wee little dark spot on the top of the mountain.

      Walking sticks help with:
      Balance, especially if you say, stumble over a stone and need to regain your balance.
      Crossing streams on logs or stepping stones, again because they help you balance.
      Greater propelling action as you walk up hill and a gentle way of decreasing/limiting the speed on the downhill so you don't end up gaining undesired speed due to the fact you're working with gravity.

      But in brief: They are your 3rd (or 4th if you carry two) leg which helps keep you moving and upright.

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    2. Oh, and I should add that I have a student who works from me who is from Kenya. He always carries a snake hitting stick when going on walks and runs. He really hates snakes and had to use the stick many times in Africa. He still carries it here even though we have many fewer snakes. His track team mates are amused. But, if there ever is a snake he will be prepared!

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and ideas. I value the advice and friendship that you share with me!