Sarah Clark is a Community Outreach SCA AmeriCorps Intern serving at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. She's helping us promote the Peak Fitness Challenge, a free hiking challenge in Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Franklin Mountains State Park
Mountain tops seem to hold a special place in men’s minds. Moses came down from the mountain top with the moral code that has shaped the lives of millions of people for thousands of years. Native Americans seek their visions among the mountain tops, while Buddhist monks remain to find nirvana. The mountain top is a symbol of clarity, knowledge, and enlightenment. The effort and struggles of gaining the peak are integral to the significance of gaining the summit. No one would say they had conquered a mountain by flying to the top in a helicopter. No, each step on the way to the top has its own place and meaning.The hike to the top of Guadalupe Peak is no different. As you work your way up the trail the desert floor falls away; the sounds of the highway gradually fade. Valleys and hills unfold before you, curving away to join ridge upon ridge, knitted together by rock and tree. Rounding a corner opens new worlds, as barren hillsides and sheer cliff faces become mountain slopes covered in pines, only to give way to the grassy shoulders of the peak. The air, thin enough to give pause as you switchback your way through the steepest sections of the trail, fills with the scent of pine. Even with your eyes closed, the air near the peak would tell you that you are far from the rest of the world. The last scramble to the summit, full of white fossil rich rocks of a long vanished reef, brings you face to face with the goal of your long climb. The mountain top is yours. Away below is the work-a-day world. But here, on the top, the press of everyday affairs is far away. Whether the first or the hundredth time to the top, the summit brings its own sense of time and scale to your perspective. As you gradually make your way back down the trail the headiness of the summit will remain. Distances seem changed, perspectives reframed. The memory of the view from the top is contrasted with where you are. Once returned to the base, the moments of clarity on the mountain top, with only the sky above you, the winds around you, and all the world below, remain.
Adventure Spotlight: JOIN the Peak Fitness Challenge!
This free, fun challenge is designed to entice you to try new parks and new trails and new challenges! How does it work?
1) Sign up at www.geobetty.com/peak (This is FREE!)
2) Browse the challenge site to find trails you'd like to try
3) Get out on the trail, complete your hike, and log it on your profile on the Peak Fitness Challenge website
4) Once you log a hike, your name is entered in a monthly drawing for neat prizes!