To climb or not to climb?

I felt the arid heat of this terrain drawing vitality from us as it’s splendor encouraged exploration. The sun lived in this valley,  against its rays my pale ginger skin stood no chance. If I removed my shirt at midday the radiance of my pale glow could blind everyone, at-least for the two minutes before I burst into flames.

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With each step powdery soil lofted small plumes of dust coating clothing and boots in a pale pink residue. Wildlife too wise to move under the midday sun rested in the shade, leaving human folly to trudge alone. Lauren and I were born to the humid wet thickets and marsh of deep Southeast Texas,  here we were as fish out of water.

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Everyone on this trail sought the holy grail of Palo Duro. The Light House towers, the canyon basin standing as a beacon to hikers upon their pilgrimage. Ridge lines so sharp they appeared to cut into the sky offered little shade from the sun as it pursued us to our destination. Ruth, our Miniature Schnauzer, and I agreed that neither of our genetics were designed for the desert; as she was continual panting and I was sweating like Hitler at a Bar Mitzvah.

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At the base of the Light House is a poorly maintained track. I love a good sheer face top-rope, but this was loose rock and gravel, covered in powdered soil. The assent is more of a scurry and scrape than a climb, at times I felt like a cartoon character running in place but going no where. Although a bit challenging  people of all ages, shape, size, and physical ability could be met ascending or descending this track.

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A great many stayed at the base, rested for a while and  headed back. Others chose to scurry to the ledge, but most who did attempted the peak.  As Lauren and I stood upon that ledge capturing photos she asked if I wanted to continue, and for the first time in my life I said no . It shocked even me.  What was this feeling of completion without conquest?

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I had simply understood the truth this land had to teach me,  and reaching that peek would be a contradiction. How many climb to the top of their lives or professions and find nothing  but more rock? How many follow the crowd scraping and scrambling, scratching and pushing reaching for what they are told is the pinnacle of life, and find only emptiness? In the end “Adventure”/”Life ” is about the process, the journey. If the process of climbing does not make you a better person then what is the point? If you gain the world yet have no joy, no love, no art, then you have climbed for nothing. There are peaks which are ours to climb, and those which are not.

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A rare C.C.C reminder that the truths of nature are not new.

“May your trail always lead to the wonders of adventure. May you have the strength and endurance to climb the mountains upon your path, and the wisdom to hike around those in which the journey would grow you more so”. Thank you to so many bloggers who have encouraged me, total strangers who are part of a community which spans the world, an endless terrain of endless adventures and trails.

11 thoughts on “To climb or not to climb?

  • A great story and wise words about “the climb”. Recently I hiked Mt Maroon. Usually I am relaxed about enjoying the nature around me and not having grand expectations but on this occasion the “magic” of reaching the summit had an effect on me and I allowed myself to get disappointed at not having finished the climb. I got caught up in getting to the top rather than appreciating what was around me. There are some places in Australia where Indigenous people prefer people not to climb for various reasons but we don’t respect their reasons. Thank you for this thoughtful account and for pictures of a wonderful landscape. 🙂

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  • I normally can hardly help myself. I am a climber at heart. However like all things in life I guess achievement requires a balanced purpose. Thanks for stopping by. I so long to visit Australia, I realize it is a large continent, but it is a continent I have not visited.

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  • I must admit to being one of those people who just want to climb the highest peak in view. That’s not to say that I get to do just that, but I always feel a pull in that direction that just wont leave me alone. If I don’t get to summit what I am drawn to, then I leave with the feeling that I missed out on something; that an opportunity passed me by. I found your post interesting from the perspective you presented, and agree that it should be ‘enough’ just to be seeing what is in front of you, and all around you, without needing more. But, none the less, I think it is still in my nature; like a moth drawn to flame, that I want to reach the summit. I’m sure Freud would have an explanation :). Thanks for another great post, and lovely pics, as always. Leah 🙂

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  • Endless terrain of endless adventures….so true. I have never been to Texas, but your stories and photos make me want to change that! Here is to endless adventures and this journey called life.

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    • Here’s to being part of an authentic community of artist, photographers, writers, and poets, all adventures at heart. People of all backgrounds, crafts, age, race, religion, and demographic united as explorers. Thanks for being part of that community.

      Liked by 1 person

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