"Perpetual Passage" An narrative essay describing my experience climbing a 13,000 foot mountain and what I gained from such an experience.

Essay by thinkfreeHigh School, 11th gradeA, November 2002

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I saw it again. A small brown blur whizzed by the ground in front of me. I had seen it several times in the past hour, or was this a different one? I was looking at an ugly, beady-eyed creature -I thought it was cute at first, but after staring at it for a while, its quite vicious looking. "It's a prairie dog," a voice suggested.

"Don't those live in prairies?" I supposed. We were far from a prairie. At 11,000 feet above sea level, I was in the midst of a six-mile hike to the peak of a 13,000-foot mountain. (Maybe it's a meerkat, "No, those live in Africa") Two exhausting miles into the hike, we were observing a plump, petite creature eyeing us askance. I watched as the alleged prairie dog/meerkat scurried vigorously up the hill and into the base of an extremely massive pile of rocks. I collapsed onto the dirt next to the rock-pile and scrutinized the ridge above that I supposed was our final destination

Climbing past the topmost tree line, the surroundings changed instantaneously, like walking from one world into another.

We had begun our journey in the heart of a wooded forest past a clear glistening lake, engulfed with the smell of pine and wet earth. Further along our expedition and another two thousand feet in elevation, the existence of the towering trees ended abruptly along with all other signs of life; save an occasional brown hirsute creature and a thorny shrub. I supposed that survival at such a high altitude was near impossible. The air was thin and parched and made my lungs feel like they were being squeezed from the inside.

Leaving our packs behind, we picked ourselves up and started toward the rocky ridge 400 meters ahead of us. The...