I am back from my walk, and it's one of those days when I feel like waxing a little poetic. So, please indulge me.
I have often wondered what it is about the raw beauty of Nevada and its rugged mountains that I love so much. I mean, I grew up in the green rolling hills of the wine country of Northern California. How completely different the two locations are. In the Northern California area, there was the endless string of city after city, until you finally ran out of them strung together in the far north. There was the constant noise of an urban setting, and the endless activity of hoards of people. In my Nevada home, I walk 5 minutes down the street and I am at a hill (in the Midwest it would be a small mountain) where with a small hike I am in the middle of no-where. There is no noise, there are no people, and my view is 360 degrees of raw, endless, beauty. The mountains are all around me, and I am instantly connected to all that is nature.
When I first came to Nevada, all I could see was endless sage brush, a lot of dirt, and what appeared to be endless brown. And then, the desert began to grow on me. I would challenge anyone to wake up to a sunrise over the desert as it splays it vivid hues of color over the landscape, and not see a new perspective. This Nevada desert is not an empty wasteland. It is raw, earthy beauty at its best. I feel a deep sense of sadness when I hear people talk of Nevada as "empty space", as if it is solely comprised of vacuous space. If they would allow themselves to stop for a moment and quiet their minds, and look around and "see" the beauty that seems to be endless, they would see it is not a wasteland. Most certainly there are the urban hubs it seems most have heard of, Reno and Las Vegas, but they are such a small part of this state, and if I may say, not necessarily the best part this state has to offer. I wish that more people would leave those locations and discover the true Nevada.
I spent my career as a geologist, so you might say I have tromped hundreds of miles all over this state (and an awful lot of the rest of the west). My day was spent with a 70 lb backpack on, hiking for miles in complete solitude, most often for 12 to 14 hours. Now some of you might find that horrific; for me it was sheer bliss. Was it really physically demanding? Yeah, but it was sheer bliss. That crazy backpack weighed almost as much as I do, and being in the middle of no where wondering if you were being watched as lunch is interesting, but it opened my eyes over and over again to what sheer, undoctored, earthly beauty is. And I fell in love with it.
I often make reference to my beloved mountains in my diary entries; well, they are truly my therapy. Each day when I wake up and look out at those mountains, I feel so fortunate to have them such a part of my life. They are such a massive sight, and yet such a welcome sight every day. On a beautiful warm, sunny day (like today), they are awesome to look at. When a storm blows in and the winds hurl off them at 90 miles an hour and crash into our house, they can be quite humbling. Always, they are beautiful. They draw me to them, and give me peace just in looking at them. When I realize that they grew from the core of the Earth, I am in awe. Nevada is called "the Basin and Range" state; these mountains are all around. Certainly, the Sierras are the biggest and grandest, but these mountains are every where, and in between the mountains are these gorgeous valleys, full of wide open spaces to explore. There is no noise other than the hawks, and eagles, and coyotes, the rustle of the wind, the sounds of nature at her best,and few if any people. I think when we allow ourselves to be quiet in such places, to truly still our minds, to realize we are part of a much greater "thing" than just ourselves, we become better people. Maybe that is why I love the wildness and openness of Nevada, and why my mountains are so beloved. It all inspires me to be a better person ...
If I was to acknowledge my greatest fears I have confronted with this broken leg, it would be wondering if I will ever walk truly normal again, and be able to hike freely. Being able to be so connected to this wild, raw beauty, is a part of who I am. And so, rain or shine, wind or no wind, no pain or throbbing pain, I get up and go out for my walk. You see, I have a date with the summit of one of those big mountains!