Mountains do such an incredible thing to the human spirit. Many times I started writing, and in an effort to capture the grandeur of the mountain and the joy of the climb, wrote something along the lines of, "The gray cliffs of Mt. Sainte Victoire rise high above all Provence, a staggering reminder of Man's infinitesimal place in the grand scheme of the world's order." Oi. Overblown and cliché to the max.
But the thing about mountains is this: those exaggerated banalities are all true. They stand there, quietly reaping time, providing a goal for us to work for, the guarantee of some higher place in the clouds. The cliff's view over what the rest of what humanity has wrought is worth the blistered heels, the sunburn, the brambles pricking through your jeans and jabbing at your skin.
I'm not a serious mountain climber. I don't have trekking poles or harnesses or carabineers or even proper boots - hell, I did this hike in my Keds. But it's easy for me to understand the need to climb ever-higher, conquering bigger and bigger mountains, until one day you're standing at the top of Mount Everest with no feelings in your limbs and continuously blackening fingertips heavy with frostbite and a tiny sherpa man who wants to give you oxygen but you're too busy staring out at the vast stretch of the Himalayan landscape because you. Are. EXULTANT.
And that's what mountains do to us: they make us happy.