Chuck Mack: Hello from the top of the world, part two

We could catch all the brookies we want right here next to camp, I know, because we have in the past.

But we usually go somewhere else and walk quite a ways up or down the creek. I like scouting out new places. Sometimes we find a real hot spot, sometimes we don't, but at least we always have fun and get our exercise, see a lot of beautiful country and feed a lot of mosquitoes.

We are camped at the base of Walton Mountain. Sometimes, just to walk off a belly full of brookies and pie, we take a long leisurely walk to the top. This is an easy walk. Just to the rear of where the camper sits is a gently sloping hill that is lightly timbered, but heavy on the rocks and boulders.

Growing in amongst the rocks are an abundance of paint brush blooming in various shades of red and an assortment of lupine in different shades of blue, with an occasional one seeming to defy nature and bloom in pure white. These two are the most predominant, but there are uncountable numbers of other wildflowers in other hues of yellow, blue, white, red and pink. One of these seems real unusual. It looks like a penstemon, but its blooms are a pale lemon color.

Beyond this hill, the mountain steepens and the timber thickens with some real large pine. There is a lot of deadfall, but there are a couple of game trails that traverse the slope missing most of the deadfall. Like the deer and elk that use these trails, we too use them to get through the thicket. Even in this heavy forest, the wild flowers find a place to bloom. There are places where there is an opening in the trees running east to west. Here, where the sunlight hits the ground for extended periods, we find long strips of wildflowers growing on the otherwise barren ground. Traveling through this forest in the late evening, one can easily see how these strips of flowers follow the sun.

Beyond this heavy forest and on up to the top of the mountain, there is a lot of open ground with a lot of rock and just a scattering of large pine trees. Even here, the game trail continues to traverse the slope. Making a gentle switchback now and then, it cuts its way through one of nature's most beautiful flower gardens, as the wildflowers grow from the bank of the creek right up to the nearly-rock solid top of the mountain.

Walking up this mountain, one would think his eyes could soak up all the beauty they could hold.

Wrong.

When one reaches the top and sits down to rest, they are treated to one of the most beautiful panoramic views imaginable. From this lofty vista, one gets the feeling they can see all the way around the world. Not quite! But simply standing in one spot and turning a full circle, one's eyes can take in hundreds of miles of breathtaking scenery.

Myself, standing atop this mountain, it is easy for me to get caught up in a fantasy world.

Is it the lack of oxygen at this well more than 10,000-foot elevation? Or the vigorous walk to get here? Or just my runaway imagination?

Whatever the cause, it's easy for me to imagine myself as some famous explorer seeing this land for the first time, or maybe even ol' Christopher Columbus discovering some never-before, uncharted, new continent! The only thing that brings my wondering mind back to reality is the sight of the many microwave towers that adorn this mountaintop, or maybe it's the gravel road that winds it's way to the top. Yep, there's a road up here. But as long as I'm able, I'd just as soon walk!

Originally published in 1989.

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