Monday, May 29, 2006

I did it for the views

Date: May 29
Mileage: 30.8
May Mileage: 407.6 (inc. 19.4 on May 24)
Temperature upon departure: 67

My dad likes to participate in the well-tread ritual of calling home from the top of a prominent peak. Like drink 'n' dial - this is hike 'n' dial. He usually lands an exasperated comment from my baby sister ("You calling from some peak again?") or a utilitarian conversation with my mom. Still ... there is something cathartic about sharing that triumphant moment (or covering up failure with a little white lie, as we overheard from a group in retreat just shy of the peak: "We're at top. It's beeeee-autiful.") So, as we stood atop Mount Olympus on Friday afternoon, he dialed a quick call home.

That's something I love about my dad. Even though no one else in my family is remotely interested in clawing their way up a 65-degree slope strewn with loose scree, he still tries to include them in the reward. Of course, it's impossible to understand unless you're standing there, on top of the mountain, looking out over the colorful sprawl of the Salt Lake valley. Some hikers like to spout off the numbers: One-way distance: 3.75 miles; Elevation gain: 4,060 feet; Elevation at peak: 9,026 feet (Low, but still surprisingly free of snow.) For them, the reward is in the journey. But I like to take a picture of what matters: the view.

There are varying degrees of effort one has to expend for a good view. This second shot, an overview of Chugach State Park, only took a dead-sprint from Gate B62 to gate B28 in the Denver Airport to catch a connecting flight to Anchorage. Then there's the other extreme - the weeks of hard mountaineering one as to go through just to see the top of the highest point in North America - Mt. Denali - as Geoff's friend "Ed the Head" did on Thursday. But there are perspectives that you work and claw and fight for, and then there are perspectives that matter.

Ed was set to visit us upon his return from the peak; we haven't heard from him since his accident, and it's hard to say now if he will come to see us. But there are the views that life saves only for the luckiest and most humbled - perspectives hidden even from those who stand atop the highest peaks or within the deepest wilderness. I have a feeling that Ed's seen the full 360-degree panorama.


  1. I was just clicking through blogs and came across yours. That is a beautiful picture of the mountains. I am living in western washington right now and have similar views when I take plane rides. I just wanted to thank you for showing that wonderful picture...


  2. Ed is not likely to ever get a break like that again, good for him, and you guys too.

  3. I am glad Ed survived that fall and without life threatening injuries, that is so fortunate for him.

  4. Jill, now I know where you get it from! Cool Dad


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