A few days in the Cascades 3

We climbed Grasshopper Mtn (5,642 feet) today, or at least Peggy did. Within 150 vertical feet of the top, the going became so rough that I decided it would be idiocy for me to continue. The rest of the trail had been bad enough. It had traversed steep meadows where the ground was uneven from moles and frost heave. Oh, but the beauty! The air was clear; the view expansive; the sky musical with birdsongs; and the earth vibrant with flowers, butterflies, iridescent beetles, and streams that ran in and out of the ground. As usual, we hadn’t seen another person in days.

I can but assume that most people are able to survive without such beauty because it is unknown to them. True, one can see Mount Hood and Yosemite Falls from parking lots, but the experience is in some ways inferior to seeing them on IMAX. At least, IMAX does not pretend to offer an intimate experience of nature, and this leaves the viewer to marvel as much at the cleverness of his species as at a glimpse of another place.

While Peggy summited, I enjoyed the peace of the sun-dappled shade. The thick forest debris was dotted with windflower and vanilla leaf, beings far more beautiful than I. Our great brains and our physical frailty have so separated us from nature that we are all like people who see Yosemite Falls from crowded asphalt. We are a part of two worlds, one of pure being and one of our own manufacture.

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