In walking, as in life, appreciation often turns on variety. Even the most beautiful surroundings lose some of their lustre after regular viewing. I thought that had happened to me on the PCT. The trail has so much spectacle that my capacity for wonder had diminished – or so I believed.
The Goat Rocks Wilderness is about a hundred miles into Washington state heading north on the trail. With Mount Adams and its pockmarked glaciers behind and headless Mount St. Helens to the left, the trail winds slowly up to a high pass. There you look back on Mount Adams, rising out of the clouds, and a sheer black massif looming across the valley to the east. I camped just before the pass, feasting on the views for a night and a morning.
The next day, I reluctantly departed, resigned to finishing the climb and descending back below tree line. But over the next ridge, just as Mount Adams disappeared, Mount Rainier burst into view to the north, higher, snowier, and even more fearsome. The morning fogs lay low on the green valleys running up to the mountain and the dark volcanic ridges beside them gleamed in the sun. Suddenly I was on a planet, in all its vastness, and I forgot myself for a good while.
While I admire the scenery out here, people in Zimbabwe struggle for the necessities of life every day.
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