Susan J. Demas: Of peaks and politicians

Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, July 2010

Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, July 2010

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - You haven't truly lived until a mountain has kicked your ass and you fight back to summit it anyway.

I'm not supposed to be an outdoors person. I grew up with my nose in a book, carrying several in tow on family vacations (and once to a Cubs game, something for which my dad has yet to forgive me two decades later). My mind is always clacking away, to which my exes will attest with various levels of exasperation.

But in recent years, I've discovered the joy of a ridiculous hike, an impossible climb - because it's rather difficult to survive if one is contemplating Nietzsche's Superman or something really complex, like health care reform.

And with the Legislature already primed to keep my dance card full for all of September over the budget (into the wee hours of the night and weekends, a girl can only hope), I thought it best to escape civilization while I could. A little time with the sequoias and Sierra Nevadas never hurt anyone.

There's that point in every hike when your fuzzy brain beckons you to glance down the cliff and toy with the idea of hurling yourself off of it - because that seems easier, less excruciating than finishing. After you push through, that's usually when the innate rhythm kicks in.

And there's nothing like a 360-degree view that you've earned, like slogging through four miles of muted forest and switchbacks before scrambling into an Ansel Adams photograph atop Sentinel Dome.

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