As the caption to the picture says, the highest point in the center is Mt. Whitney, 14,495 feet ASL. I have hiked up that mountain 5 times, spent the night on top 4 of those. I believe the first time was in 1990, the last a few years ago.
I’ve laid on my back up there, above most pollution, watching stars, planets, satellites, meteors, and airplanes. I’ve seen mock dogfights from fighters from nearby training bases, I’ve looked down on them trying desperately to evade someone on their tails. I’ve watched the sunsets, I’ve watched the sunrises. I’ve traded lies with friends, with strangers, I’ve sat alone and no matter what realized that life doesn’t get any better than that.
I’ve had hiking companions thank me for arranging the experience, I’ve had some cuss me and swear they would never go anywhere with me again (they always came on the next climb), and everyone has said it affected them.
I think a person should be able to look at that picture, remember the experiences, the people, the hardships, the camaraderie with gratitude and move on. Somehow tonight I got stuck – I’m saddened, I miss the times, I miss the people. Some are dead, those bastards, I’m really pissed about that, the selfish sons-a-bitches, the rest scattered. In the midst of a rich existence, my ability to contribute to my community validated every day, I’m at the moment lonely, overwhelmed with the losses, teary. And yet I don’t know if I would want to not experience this from time to time. It’s confusing, and I’m not going to try to figure it out.