Photo by Geraint Smith 2006
My first experience in the mountains was when I was around 13 years of age. My family went snow skiing for the first time in Taos, New Mexico. This may have actually been my first time out of the state besides going to Texas, and that didn't count. Growing up in Oklahoma, the closest thing I had seen to real mountains were in the Wichitas. And while Mount Scott and the surrounding landscapes of southwestern Oklahoma are beautiful and impressive, especially for Oklahoma, I had not yet experienced the breathtaking beauty of truly majestic mountains.
I will never forget my first sight of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. At first they looked like clouds in the shape of mountains in the distance. As we drove closer and closer, my eyes remained fixated on the faraway formations, not truly believing yet that they were, indeed, mountains....real mountains. We drove ever closer and with each mile, small details began to form. I finally convinced my eyes that these were not merely clouds that looked like distant mountains, but were coming to life before me.
I fell in love immediately.
As we drove into Taos, the first thing I noticed was that the air was different. The energy around me was incredibly powerful. Even my young thirteen year old body could feel the difference, and it felt it deeply. The excitement of actually going up the mountain to ski the next day was almost more than I could bear.
My first trip up the ski lift was spent not in fear of falling off, but in complete and utter awe of the surrounding landscape. My God! I had seen photographs, but this...this was like nothing I had ever seen! And the air, so pure, so clean, so intoxicating. Much too soon the ski lift reached its destination and I had to get off. But I soon felt the snow beneath my skis, the immensity of the behemoth below me and felt as if I was truly home.
Skiing down the mountain my first time I burned every vista into my memory, into every cell of my being. Again and again I would take the ski lift up to the top of the mountain, scanning the horizon for views I had missed the last time. I felt at home...completely at home.
In later years my travels would take me extensively through the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado. Each time I felt as if I could finally breathe fully when I was in my beloved mountains. Though many of the rugged landscapes I explored varied immensely, they each held a certain peace for me, a certain authenticity. I felt completely connected to myself, the earth, all that is greater than me. When in the mountains, I knew I was exactly where I should be.
It is now time to go home, for good. The mountains call to me, they beckon me to come home and finally find peace. Soon, I'll be there soon.....