Blue Ground I

In 1977, I climbed Mount Taylor during the day and came down the mountain in the evening by full-moon light.  The coming-down at night was unplanned.

I still climb mountains, not with rope and anchor, but one foot in front of the other, up the trail to the summit where a cairn is located, signing my name on the log book tucked in a steel tin.  Mountaineering climbs test body, attack motivation; high altitudes increase depression, morbid thoughts.  One of my climbs, Mount Taylor near Grants, New Mexico, combined the usual test of fortitude with a special insight into mysticism.   Mount Taylor is the southern holy mountain in Navaho mythology and I was determined to see what was at the summit and, more importantly, what was on the mountain that made it sacred.

To be candid, the nature of man’s life is radically material.  For a short period of time, the individual is formed as an ensemble of perceptions and sensations, the life cycle, four score years or so.  Before birth, the ensemble, there is oblivion and after death, the same:  oblivion.  But during the ensemble, there is life, movement, talking, sensing.  Religion, magic, and witchcraft exist as explanations about oblivion, life, oblivion.  Saints, sages, and shamans that seek to explain are in the end, like Thomas Aquinas, swept away by the magnitude of life, the universe, that they become silent (or should) and express only that the ultimate mystery is ineffable [1].

That the ultimate mystery is unexplainable should not mean despair, immobility.  It often does petrify.  Nevertheless, take the body and place it there, here, over there, up there, down there!  Explore.  There is the mountain, desert, ocean, space.  Witness the inexpressible grandeur of the place.  It is all we have, but it is quite enough.

My reasoning, therefore, in climbing Mount Taylor was to put myself on top of the sacred mountain to encounter the ineffable or, at least, be present in nature at a high altitude, looking at vistas from the summit.  I would be a moving participant, a spectator, to the incomprehensible spirit that moves in all things.  I was not in search of the supernatural or mystical in the conventional, religious sense.  Within my life, I wanted to place myself in nature at her most inspiring locations.  That was all, but quite enough as it turned out.  For at the climb’s end, that evening, the coming-down time from Mount Taylor, I saw blue ground, but I did not understand.

(Next, Blue Ground II)


[1]  Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship,” in Mysticism and Logic. See also Four Noble Truths, Eightfold Path of Guatama, “The Benares Sermon of Buddha–6th century BCE,” in Elsa Nystrom, Primary Source Reader for World History, Volume I to 1500, Wadsworth, 2006, pp. 38-39.


Filed under Adventure, Colony Road

7 responses to “Blue Ground I

  1. StarkRavingZen

    Jack, I cannot wait for the conclusion. Your writing is what I aspire to. Clean. Clear. Invisible. – Kristy

  2. Kristy, I just read your blog, “Is Something Missing,” and will respond later. You gotta have the best blog name around, “Stark Raving Zen.” Later….

  3. My Grandparents ranch(Rincon) was on the other side Of Mt Taylor . The road that we use to take to reach the top is no longer passable . I did not know that it was a sacred mountain. I would like to know more on Mt. Taylor , and I also await the conclusion.


    • What a coincidence! What a beautiful place to have a ranch at Rincon. Yes, the road to the top is no longer passable. I’ve got to complete this. Actually, I first wrote the story back in the 70s and put it away. I have five filing cabinets in the barn with notebooks from college and my writing. I drafted this first short part from memory. Since Mt. Taylor has a connection with you, I am prompted to go the barn, find the story, revise, revise, and revise. Then bring it online. And, yes, it is a sacred mountain to the Navaho. I’ll provide citations when I finish the story. What a coincidence. Do you have any photos of Mt. Taylor?

  4. I have some photos of Mt Taylor in the backgound, but if you finish the story, I will go visit the mountain and retake some to go with your story. Let me know when you are about finished so I can get them to you beforehand.

    • Evangeline, thank you for the photo. I can see Mt. Taylor from a different angle. I do hope you get to take additional photos of Mt. Taylor and if you do, I certainly would like to include them in the story with proper attribution to your beautiful work. Thanks.

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