Ain’t No Mountain High Enough?

For Buddhists, the mountains are Gods whose faces we should not be stepping all over. Nor should we be replacing the flowers in their hair with high energy food wrappers and plastic water bottles. I’ve been thinking a lot about extreme adventure sports and adrenaline junkies as I’ve been leaving my own carbon footprints all over Yosemite Valley.

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My thought, which was just a thought, is not really a judgement because even I have issues with my line of reasoning. But, it was interesting enough (at least to me) to ask the question and continue exploring the idea that we have no business intruding on the natural world even as we crave and need that connection more deeply than ever.

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I also have to wonder if there is a connection between the urge to risk life and limb to go where no (or very few) men have gone before and the sport of hunting, the undeniable point of which is to kill stuff. After concluding the obvious, which is that there is a connection, I also have to question the validity of the “instinct” beard. Surely, both efforts must have something to do with satisfying a human need to conquer nature, perhaps to connect with our beast within.

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But, as with all arguments to justify our more questionable behaviors, instinct is pretty null if you consider all the instincts we keep in check, perhaps simply because we will be thrown in jail, get electrocuted, or have our asses kicked.

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As a tree-hugging lover of the natural world, I’m questioning whether we should be driving like maniacs all over National Parks in things called an XTerra, which seems to loosely translate to Kill the Earth. After being stuck behind a line of cars, even in the dead of winter, on the scenic road through Yosemite, I am seriously leaning toward off-limits or, at the very least, severe quotas to limit the impact of human visitors on our natural world.

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While it’s probably true that serious mountaineers and climbers do far less damage to the environment than, say…an SUV full of day-trippers, getting out of their vehicles only to take a photo on their iPhones or to stomp around on snow-clad restoration areas, do we really need to climb every mountain? Should every fool with an ice-pick climb Jumolhari?

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