Monday, April 02, 2012

The Peaks are Calling

It is obvious that the mountains around me harbor less snow than they did last year. This strikes dread in the hearts of some as a harbinger of a drought. But last year was an extra heavy water year, so water managers expect reservoirs to exceed full capacity anyway. (I guess that’s how we get averages.) There will certainly be less flooding than last year.

Rather than feeling fear as I look at the receding snow on the mountains, I feel excitement. For some reason that I can’t quite explain, the nearby mountain peaks beckon to me. I feel somehow compelled to climb and stand atop these peaks. Less snow means that the trails will be clear enough for hiking earlier in the season than last year.

I didn’t always feel this way about hiking. As a youth I hated hiking. It was tedious and uncomfortable. I was always near the rear of the pack, often trailing far behind the main group. I hiked slowly. I was ill fit for hiking.

Thus, I feared the mountain peaks as a kid. I usually found a way to exclude myself from scheduled hikes to the various peaks in the area. But something changed over the years. Having transitioned from youth to adult, I found it necessary to sponsor and lead hikes to various destinations, including mountain peaks.

I suppose this whet my appetite somehow. I was no longer the pudgy trudger trailing behind my buddies. I discovered a new enjoyment from standing atop the mountains I had loved to look at my whole life. Even today I can’t quite define what it is that makes me want to do this.

After all, hiking is still uncomfortable and tedious. But there is a certain sense of reward that I gain from hiking to mountain peaks. And there is plenty of nature to enjoy along the trek. Maybe I hike peaks to spite my Multiple Sclerosis.

My peak hiking has increased as my children have reached the ages where they could hike with me. Oddly enough, I have difficulty just going out and hiking recreationally. I will do it if it serves some other purpose, such as helping a youth group, a school, or my own kids. But I probably wouldn’t do it if it was just for me.

As it turns out, most of my children aren’t that keen on hiking. I guess they’re more like I was when I was younger. I have hiked my two oldest sons to Willard and Ben Lomond Peaks. That can be done in a single hike. Son #3 is my only willing hiker. He has been with me to those same two peaks (twice), as well as Malan’s Peak, Lewis Peak, and Mount Ogden Peak.

Son #4 and my only daughter have yet to go peak hiking with me. My lovely wife has a bum knee that keeps her off the mountain trails.

I have no definite plans for peak hiking this year. I suspect that we are still a good two months away from having clear trails. But I’m thinking that I need to get son #4 out hiking a couple of times before heading to Scout camp this summer. He doesn’t like hiking. But maybe he will do OK if I bring his little sister along. He couldn’t let her show him up.

I’d like to get my wife on top of Allen Peak sometime. You can ride the Snowbasin tram to the top of the peak. You don’t have to ski the extreme slopes up there, but you do have to ski from the Needles tram to the Allen Peak tram. That will have to wait until next ski season, because the Allen Peak tram closed for the season just yesterday.

Maybe I will just settle for taking my wife to an evening of luxury dining at the Needles Lodge. On Saturday evenings during the summer months you can ride the tram up to the lodge and enjoy a gourmet buffet. It’s pricey, because you have to buy the tram ticket too. But maybe that’s a way for my wife to enjoy a (nearly) mountain peak experience with me.

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