Three mountains sleep
in the stillness of a summer mid-morning,
the air so quiet we can only hear ourselves breathing.
The mountains don’t notice us climbers
unless maybe in their deep mountain dreams.
We reach the gates of the mountains,
There’s something about the rushing sound,
the moist, cool air, and the white foam
that is sacred.
It reminds me that I should walk carefully,
that just because I can go some places
doesn’t mean I should go.
We walk short distances and then rest.
We’re enjoying the summer day,
thanking the earth for the warmth that radiates up
and sky for an occasional breeze.
It hardly seems like we are climbing very far this way
but the height accumulates
until we round a bend
and it cuts my breath to look over the edge.
It is almost like flying.
Göran says he can hear voices singing
The trees are craning their trunks
out over the valley,
trying to keep their balance.
The trail winds ever higher
like a stairway into the sky.
Occasionally I look below,
but only when I have a safe ledge to lean against.
Sometimes we can’t see where the trail goes.
This one disappears into a sheer rock face
but when we reach the end,
a way opens up.
All morning long we’ve been
weaving up and down
along the mountain’s skirts
but the peak is still far away from us.
Today we turn back.
I ask permission at the waterfalls
to go farther.
The water laughs.
We walk swiftly, confidently,
the terrain less unknown.
We tell ourselves we’re making good time.
We’ll reach the top, easy.
But the trail leads us where we
The higher we climb,
the more we see of an upper realm
invisible from below,
new heights towering above the old.
Only now do we realize
how high one must ascend
even to see the peak.
We pass a hidden valley,
fragrant green fields filled with exotic birds,
lakes and meandering streams
that invite us to stay,
to build a cabin here and just live.
But we press on,
up a mile-long staircase of rocks,
across fields of cold, clinging snow
and up another ladder of stone and gravel
until we find ourselves in the borders of the sky.
Here I am filled with a kind of terror.
We poor earth beings do not belong here.
Göran sees a family of mountain goats
defying gravity on an impossible ledge.
We are not that kind of mythical creature.
We shiver on a rock bridge
where we can see mother earth
far, far below,
to the left, the peaks of mountains we have already passed,
to the right, the city of Provo, sprawled in the valley.
We make the last ascent,
dizzy, clinging to the mountain side.
We are greeted by
tiny flowers, pure white and shimmering magenta,
growing out of the cracks.
is the mountain
stripped of everything
but maddening vistas
in an abyss of sky.
Humans have built a tiny hut here
to let visitors hide inside
and peer down from the ferocious heights
in bits and pieces,
as through the cracks of one’s own fingers.
The only comfort at the peak
is the thought of leaving
though for as long as we can bear it
The descent is more soothing
than we expected,
not a struggle so much as
a gentle giving back of height.
Göran’s knee hurts
forcing us to go slowly.
The late afternoon sun
reddens our skin
until we pass the plateau and the lakes
and cross the ridge that separates
the portion of the mountain that is mostly sky
from the portion that is mostly earth.
We can see the shadow
of the whole mountain in the valley below.
It spreads as our descent continues
until the whole earth is filled with it.
We are grateful for the moist, cool air
and the stillness.
Returning home is a journey too.