Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I summited alone at two-twenty in the afternoon; twenty minutes past the designated turn-around time. I’d crossed paths with the last summiteers fifteen minutes prior. Westerly’s drove a storm in my direction. Climbing the last 700 vertical feet alone, I’d almost retreated twice. The mountain seemed to part the jet stream, coercing thunderclouds either north or south. While the weather pattern held directly overhead, I continued upward even as thunder rumbled softly to the north. The summit was quiet and eerie. A vague sense of you-shouldn’t-be-here-alone haunted. I had violated the first rule of the mountains: NEVER go alone. I should have abandoned my summit bid with my compadres. I however, am not known to deny myself an obtainable summit. It was a calculated risk, the trail was straightforward without cliffs or snow… and a summit is only the halfway-point. I snapped four pictures: one of my face against the summit marker, one of the log book container which, try as I might, remained unopened, and two of neighboring peaks. I tightened my bootlaces and ran as snowflakes fell. Wild mountain goats perched effortlessly on nearby crags, defiant against silent snow flurries. So near, so majestic, so breathtakingly beautiful, I stopped to stand with them. In one diastolic depolarization, my heart opened to all-of-it and touched the Eternal. I say mountain climbing is a holy experience that brings me to touch the face of God. It IS that, the experience of being very present and connected to all-of-it.