One evening about eight years ago, my brand-new husband and I got in our aging little car and wound our way to the top of Squaw Peak. There, overlooking the lights of Provo and Orem, we sat on the hood of the car and planned out our lives.
I remembered that winding ascent yesterday, when we carefully navigated our way to the top of Wayah Bald in Nantahala National Forest, NC. As we drove the hairpin turns and switchbacks, climbing higher and higher, our ears popping, the temperature dropping, our oldest son sang a song in the backseat. "We're going to the highest place in the world...the hiiiighest place in the world...."
His father and I exchanged smug looks. At roughly 5400 feet, Wayah Bald is hardly the highest place in the world. It's a place we went as a family when I was growing up, and it does hold a sort of magic for me. It is the highest peak in the area, and when you stand on top and look out, it feels like you're above everything. The mountains roll away in giant, gentle folds, with tiny towns nestled down in the valleys. There's a stone tower that's probably twenty feet tall, and to a child, such a tall tower on such a tall mountain is really an amazing experience.
And now I was sharing this experience with my children. They were amazed, they were awestruck, they made repeated remarks about how beautiful the mountains were, how high we were. There was a low stone wall to keep us from tumbling down the steep side of the mountain, and we all perched there for one cold, precarious, nervous moment as a stranger took our picture.
And then, of course, everybody had to go to the bathroom. So we went tumbling, running, laughing, back down the trail toward the bathrooms and our warm car. And as I watched my children run ahead of me down a trail I ran down as a child, between the trees that stood there even then, I had two thoughts. One was, if those two people sitting on the hood of the car at the top of Squaw Peak could see these six people now, would we fit in with their tidy plans? And the other thought...
maybe this is the highest place in the world.
Tuesday, January 1, 2008 at 5:37PM