19620000 (ll)
Journal: sometime in 1962
Return to:   Site   or   Journal   Description

Joie de Vivre                            Science (My First Geomorphogeny)

English Paper, written during high school as a sophomore after attending Cheley Camps for the 1st time.

My first glimpse of what was to become my primary delight, the mountains, was caught from the dome car of the Denver Zephyr as it approached the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. Rising out of the prairies, the blue-gray mass, speckled with fields of white, reminded me of clouds on the eastern horizon telling me the story of a storm that had just passed. At that moment I felt a stirring somewhere within me as if the mountains were calling me to rise up out of the plains and challenge their grandeur. That feeling has never left me and will always be a part of my total self. Now in retrospect after having spent many years in the alpine slopes throughout this country, maybe I can explain the meaning of the feeling more fully.

Physically a mountain range is a mass of rock somehow forced above the ground level surrounding it. This mass does not rise uniformly, but rather, irregularly, which leaves smaller blocks of the earth’s crust separated by voids that didn’t receive as much push from the powers that mold the earth. The atmosphere seems to sense an intrusion into its territory and begins unleashing its forces to check the advance of the rising earth and eventually even reverse the process. It places ice on the slopes of the higher blocks to shave away the sides and carry the debris to fill the voids. It sends rain and winds to assist the shearing ice in the fight against the surging rocks. It even alternates between hot and cold in order to weaken the resistance of the enemy to the above mentioned attack units. The endless battle between rising earth and the resisting atmosphere creates for eyes fortunate enough to witness it a scene of mountain peaks, spotted with snowfields and glaciers, valleys covered with i nnumerable varieties of vegetation, trout-filled alpine rivers and streams, and jewel like tarns and lakes of every conceivable hue of blue and green. This beauty that an alpestrine setting provides can never be forgotten have once been seen.

The desire to observe that artistry of nature is only part of the insatiable yearning I have to climb mountains. There is a challenge that I feel pointed directly at me. A challenge to test my strength and willpower against the immensity of the mountain. One gets a feeling of smallness when surrounded by boulders as big as a house that become small as pebbles in relation to the mountains as a whole. Sheer wall of rock so immense that the whole face cannot be seen when one stands one thousand feet away. A man appears too small to be distinguished on lakes thousands of feet below that seem as if you could hold them in your hand. When in the mountains, whether in the lowest vale or on the highest peak, I am permeated with sense of awe. My senses are not acute enough to be aware of and to ingest all the magnificence and magnanimity that surrounds me in this great meeting place of heaven and earth.

The greatest show of sheer power I have ever seen occurred while on a boulder-strewn plateau twelve thousand feet above the sea. The day was young but too young for the ..... (never finished, but I think the story was about the hair tingling and St. Elmo’s fire in the clouds)