Back home. I couldn’t sleep last night for sharp pains radiating down the outside of my leg. If avoiding hikes would enable my knee to heal so I could hike later, the tradeoff would be worth it, but my surgery was four months ago; I have cared for myself exquisitely; and I have given up hope that I will ever be as fit as I was the day I walked into the hospital. Meanwhile, spring has come to the mountains, and the lengthening days will become shortening days in two weeks.
Making things easier for my knee might save me for other things. The problem is that I value none of those things nearly so much as I value what we did this weekend. Peggy and I talk from time to time about how we might get around my limitation. For example, I could bike alongside as she hiked remote roads, or I could even ride a trike so as to better match her speed. The trouble with such things is that they represent a willingness to settle for less than I want, and I’m not willing to settle anymore than I already have.
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.