For the past two days, I have been posting photos from a Saturday hike to Tumalo Mountain near Bend, Oregon. This shot of the summit shows the texture and color of the soil, its reddish tinge from pumice and lava-cooled igneous rocks. In the background looms the fractured and eroded volcanic dome of Mt Bachelor. On this day, the air was pleasantly warm with a gentle breeze, but in winter, temperatures and wind can make this a most inhospitable spot, although ardent skiers are known to pack their skis up here and find a line through the trees.
It is a strange, puzzling yearning to climb to the top of a mountain. I'm not sure the process can exactly be called fun. Hikes are often long, hot and exhausting and not conducive to smiling. It is work. Feet, knees and joints ache and there is anxiety about sufficient supplies and daylight, and the possibility of twisting something. Some of you are content to see someone's photo or look at the scenery from an airplane, rather than to make such a questionable effort on your own. That's okay too. Hiking is clearly not for everybody. So what is the appeal? I know there is much gratification in reaching the pinnacle, looking over the world below, and then returning safely down to the trailhead. It is giving voice to the little train engine in me that puffs, "I think I can, I think I can." I have chosen to challenge the narrow limit which my upbringing has set. I am capable of being the bear who goes over the mountain to see the other side to see what he could see.