This summer I got a totally different view of Mount Meeker. After years of staring up at the almost 14,000-foot mountain (right) that rises a mile straight up from Meeker Park (and my cabin) and after taking hundreds of photos in every possible weather condition, I discovered that it has another side.
Of course, I know mountains have four sides, if not more, that they look different from the bottom than from the top, and from the back instead of the front. But what you can’t see you don’t think about.
In August, I was hiking up Mount Audubon, which is south from Meeker. From my home east of Boulder on the plains, the two mountains look far apart, as if I would have to drive a long time to travel from one to the other. But when I got above tree line on Audubon and looked north, I was surprised to see Meeker, but from its south side (left). It looked close by, like I could walk over the next hill and into the valley and be down at its base, looking up at a view I had never seen and thus didn’t know existed.
It’s a bit disorienting, like discovering the world is not a fixed place but that reality is constantly shifting. You have to reorient your mind, open it up to a larger and different view. It’s like the Zen koans that are meant to shock you out of your routine way of thinking. You’re suddenly not sure of the ground you’re walking on.
I had to recalibrate my interior map. If Mount Meeker was there, then my cabin would be somewhere to the northeast. If Longs Peak was now to the left of Meeker, then Glacier Gorge must be on the other side. And the valley to the east must be Coney Flats where I ski in winter. And that lake below must be Beaver Lake, where the ski trail starts.
If I looked to the southwest, I could see the mountains that surrounded the deep basins that held Isabelle and Blue lakes, and Arapahoe Pass (right). I had hiked up each drainage many times, but had never put the whole picture together, seen how they were all connected, one mountain ridge away from each other.
In the mountains so much is hidden, unlike the plains where everything is open. In the mountains you never know what you’ll find around the next bend or over the crest of the next hill. If I could hike all around Mount Meeker, see it from every conceivable angle and then somehow make it to the top (not easy, as there is no trail) and see what the world looks like from up there, I might feel like I’m getting closer to some truth, some grand vision. I’m not sure what that would be, but that’s the appeal of the mountains: the not knowing.