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February 25, 2009

I’m sitting here with my lottery form in front of me wondering why I can’t get myself to fill it out and reserve my spot on California’s tallest peak.  I think it has to do with the fact that I don’t want to do it with strangers or people I’ve barely met. 

The last time I hiked alone was before I met Mike.  I drove to Tuolomne Meadows and hiked up a steep snowgully with my full pack and camped at the base of a beautiful stark granite peak called CocksCombe.  I should have felt exhilirated – but instead I felt alone and scared. Not scared of a bear (my food was in my bearproof plastic thing).  But scared of some rabid person bursting through my tent door at any minute.  I tried to convince myself that no crazy person was wondering around at this altitude looking for single females to pester.  In the morning I looked at the peak and hiked quickly back to my car.  I realized in that moment that I was tired of doing all this stuff by myself.  I wanted to be with someone that would go with me. 

I’m turning 40 in May and feeling like I need to mark the moment.  My cousins helped me mark the “30” moment in Yosemite.  they were amazing – they hiked in a cake and vodka.  We camped next to an incredible creek and enjoyed the scenery. 

I love this Wendell Berry quote from The One-Inch Journey:  “Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread.  It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.  What you are doing is exploring.  You are undertaking the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place.  It is an experience of our essential loneliness; for nobody can discover the world for anybody else.  It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes a common ground and a common bond, and we cease to be alone.” 

I don’t know if my desire to climb Mt. Whitney is about getting to the top or simply the process to get there.  I love the feeling of trying something new.  I like feeling “out of my element” – of stretching my comfort level.  I like the idea that you constantly challenge yourself by putting yourself into a situation that you have to face headon.  It’s not that I actually need to reach the summit of Mt.Whitney – perhaps it’s not even that particular mountain – it’s about the goal…

One Comment leave one →
  1. fidissimus permalink
    February 25, 2009 6:03 pm

    DH and I talked and if we can pull it off I’m coming down to “stand on the mountain” with you as you cross over the threshold into your 40’s. I love you.

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