Dead tress litter the high country, those rare places where the earth attempts to reach the sky. In some places the dead outnumber those left behind to carry on stretching for the heavens. The wormy carvings, the evidence of their doom, are etched across their bare trunks. Drought and a beetle, two things these giants long stood strong against, finally broke through their defenses and feasted heavily on the ancient lodgepoles. The once green forests are graying and thinning like an old man. The forests of the high country are old.
They are still beautiful of course, even if the dead give them a haunting quality that speaks to the one debt we all owe. Or, perhaps they are even more beautiful because of the ghosts standing in their midst. Even these ancient towering spires pay the price of life but they stand tall and meet their fate stoically. They have no choice to do otherwise, of course. Of course. But there is still something honorable there.
Or maybe my judgement is skewed by the thin air and the staggering beauty that surrounds me when I stand in such places. It is always a struggle to get there, to catch these glimpses, to then pause and take it all in. Here are trees that grew from a seed in the harshest of climates for hundreds of years. They struggled and succeeded and grew. I struggled and succeeded in reaching them… and I too will grow.
My journey is different from theirs, yes, but that is inconsequential as long as I continue to reach for the sky, reach for my potential, reach for the highest highs and stand strong against all that work against me.
You should do the same.
We all should.
For we are all like the forests of the high county.
Even as our age and experiences show through.
Because they do.
A bruise of light on the underbelly of the sky is the only blemish in the pristine darkness.
Another day about to start.
The roar of the edge slicing through the hard pack assaults my ears. The cold wind bites my face. My nerves are frayed and my muscles ache from the strain needed to stay upright. Every sense is telling me to stop.
But I’m not listening. All of that is secondary to the serenity and joy of being on the mountain again.
They call to me, as I’ve said before.
They whisper, they shout, they beg, they demand.
I’ve been listening for them and to them my whole life and I know there is only one way to placate them. I must go. I must.
And so I do.
As often as I can.
I like to stand here and look down into an area I will likely never actually set foot in. I’ve only ever seen it covered in snow, except once when I did make it to this point in the summer. But, for the most part, I have this beautiful untarnished snow covered image of this valley behind Mammoth.
I feel like it is one of those things best viewed from a distance. If I were to snowboard down the backside, out of bounds, or if I were to go hiking into that area in the summer, what I would find when I got there could never live up to the beauty I saw from the top of the mountain. I’ve built it up to such a point in my thoughts that the reality of it could only disappoint me.
So, knowing this, I like to stand here and look down, and behold the beauty of the world as I see it, rather than how it actually is.
I have stepped to the edge and looked down. I have felt the air pushing me both directions as I stood in the vortex of buffeting currents. I have closed my eyes and the beauty of the day was still so firmly emblazoned on my mind that I gasped with joy. I have.
I will climb more mountains and marvel at the rolling peak lines stretching away from the folds in the earth. I will raise my arms at my sides to feel the pressure wrought winds crashing up and down the majestic valleys. I will keep my eyes wide to catalogue every detail I can for the moments when I am far away and longing to return. I will.
I am aware of how many camping and backpacking photographs I have posted this month. I am sure that many of you have grown tired of them and hoped my choices would be a bit more diverse. I am being truthful when I say it was not my intention to have the majority of this month’s blogs be pictures from my beloved mountain adventures. But, sorry I am not.