For somebody who gets vertigo on the second step of a ladder, the view from sitting on a pile of rocks at 9,000 feet above sea level was pretty darn good. Higher than I’d ever thought I’d go in my life if I wasn’t in an airplane. Incredibly blue sky, mountain ranges as far as I could see, a hawk winging its way past me at eye level. It was worth the trip.
If you looked at the trek to get there one way, you’d note that I quit about two thirds of the way up to the top of Lassen Peak in northern California, nailed to the side of the mountain at last by a lifelong fear of heights. I like to look at it another way, which is that I tried something quite out of the ordinary, and was rewarded even when I fell short by the experience of a lifetime!
This was part and parcel of that pre-college vacation I took with my son a few weeks ago where we made up the trip as we went along. And trust me, hiking two and a half miles on steep, rocky switchbacks to try to reach the summit was entirely his idea. I had hoped for something a lot more leisurely and mom-friendly myself. But eighteen-year-olds can be very persuasive, and really, how many teen=aged boys would even admit they were having a good time traveling with their mother in the first place? I took the challenge.
The ache in my leg muscles has long since faded, and now I have to look at the vacation pictures to remember it all in detail. But if you want a longer look at the volcano hike and just what unexpected treasures can evolve from giving something your best shot, turn to my essay, The Volcano Diaries.