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I never thought much about posting today and just hung out with friends at one of my favorite coffee shops. We discussed the usual things, politics, religion, the purpose of life, and mostly travel. Everyone had stories about Alaska, Canada, and trips down the Oregon coast.

One comment was made which requires some corroboration, “It’s the most outspoken ecologists that are most often encountered in the distant wilderness treks.” Several of my friends have been up to Mt. Everest, but none said they summited, and they probably would have had they done so. They said Everest Base Camp is like a city, with lots of people milling about, and the trail up to it was like walking around downtown Manhattan during lunch hour.

I climbed a few local mountains when in high school, and remember being on top of Mt Hood three days before graduation. It was memorable because I didn’t wear any sun screen and got a terrible sun burn, and looked like a freshly boiled lobster when picking up my diploma. Mountain climbing for the view never made sense to me, because beauty was to be found everywhere, and the aesthetic experience depended more on one’s personal aesthetic involvement with oneself than the environment. The more important thing for enjoyment was one’s personal mental and emotional processes at the time, and the effort of climbing took away energy that could have been expended on the effort of observing one’s present thoughts.

At age 80¾ I’ve become a bit sluggish when it comes to climbing mountains. And the five-hundred-foot ascent during a four-mile walk up Pilot Butte and back, here in Bend, Oregon, seems just fine, and the view of the half-dozen snow-splotched volcanic peaks satisfies my need to look at distant rock and snow. Furthermore, I don’t need to waste the fuel needed to go halfway around the world to see some mountains; I just walk out my front door and an hour’s walk later there I am looking at a gorgeous view, from on top of one of three “volcanoes” within a city in the USA. One in Portland, Oregon, and one in Honolulu, Hawaii, and this one here in Bend, Oregon. All of them are more or less extinct.

Oh, yes, having fine companions in all of these simple pleasures helps a lot.