Day Four: Peak Experiences

Back-country camping is better than anything in the world.

Okay, the food isn't great, but the wildlife makes up for that in so many ways...

The deer are a bit of a pain when they're walking around outside your tent at three in the morning, but you learn to forgive them for it. The ROUSs aren't as nice, but they mostly stay in the rocks and higher altitudes.

Rodents of unusual size? I don't even think they exist...

The real reason I decided to go back-country camping instead of staying at a full-service tent site in town was for the climbing. Goat lake is only 1.5 Km from Avion Ridge, and Newman Peak is only another couple of Kms further along the ridge.

Peak experiences are hard to describe.
In Fear and Trembling, his book about faith, Soren Kierkegaard wrote under the pseudonym “Johannes de silentio” because he claims that faith is something which should bring silence. Johannes himself claims only to be a poet: the poet's task is to describe the actions of the "heroes of faith." Abraham, whose faith is the subject of the “dialectical lyric,” is totally unable to express anything about his own actions. Further, the act of taking Issac as a sacrifice to the mountaintop is something that pushes him away from his family and community; nobody would ever understand or consent to the act of true faith, it must be done in secret.
Hiking a ridge isn't quite the same as the acts of faith Kierkegaard was describing, but there is something to be said for silence in the face of wonder and awe. When riding a motorcycle I feel like I can see my guts and brains; I see deeper into my responses and reactions, and the hills and roads seem to respond to questions I have about myself. (If you've ever read The Pilgrim's Regress, that analogy might make more sense to you.) It's pretty easy to write about motorcycling, even if the writing doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Being on a mountaintop is different: instead of pushing your thoughts inward, you cannot help but feel you are exploding into the sheer size of everything around you. That's as far as I'll go in description; whatever words I do choose will be vain and inconsequential.
I do have pictures, though.

I stayed up at the peak long enough to get a nasty sunburn on my shoulders and neck. The morning started out cold, so I was wearing a sweater and I totally forgot about bringing sunscreen for later in the day.
On the way back to camp, I cooled off in this waterfall. By “cooled off,” I mean that I froze myself into a meat-popsicle. That water is COLD.
I was back just in time for tea, and to observe the arrival of an entire family of backpackers. Not exactly the tranquil peace and undisturbed silence I was looking for on my last evening in the park, but they were friendly, so I can't really hold anything against them. We chatted a bit before the rainclouds rolled in and we all went to our respective shelters for the night.

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