If it’s possible to suck at backpacking, I suck at backpacking. I’m not fit enough for the burden of my own paranoia: without fail, I grossly overestimate what I need to bring with me and then grossly underestimate how difficult it will be to carry it. Misery ensues.
But in the Sierras, at least, there is a reliable correlation between misery and scenery. This weekend the way out was a procession of progressively more fantastic alpine lakes, such that every attempt I made to cut the route short was thwarted by the insidious idea that the next one might be even better. I got about 15 miles in this fashion, I got lie-down-and-cry tired, and I got this:
I think the thing about the mountains—I don’t have the balls for the word “beauty” or “magic,” sorry—is that they stand up to scrutiny as well as distance. It’s something as captivating viewed on the horizon at 10,000 feet as it is held up to your face and shivering in your breath, as present in the hulk and form of a rising thunderhead or granite wall as surely as it’s in the veins on the underside of a lily-pad or the diamond eyes of a spider. It is infinitely scalable. I’ll walk a long way for that.