About hippies and high places

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This week G. George Ostrom selected a column from September, 1970.

I received a letter from a feller in California who gave me the devil for implying in this column that hippies were afraid of soap.

I’m sure the problem here is one of personal and/or sectional semantics. I personally have no names such as hippie or yippie for people who wear long hair, whiskers and unconventional clothes, so long as those clothes, hair and whiskers are clean. I could care less what people wear or how hang the tresses.

On the other hand, I’ve talked to and observed many folks whom I think of as hippies in L.A., San Francisco and even Kalispell who just plain got too much body essence for me to take. I’ve never had a clean one tell me he or she was a hippie but several smelly ones have told me with pride that they were; therefore I feel my use of the hippie-soap analogy was O.K. If my California friend or anyone else would care to give me a better definition which will stand the ultimate test of historic reference, I shall be happy to adjust my personal connotations of the word “hippie.”

There is, of course, the problem of what to call someone who wears conservative clothes, short hair and no beard but still has bad B.O. I think the only thing a guy can do in this case is go back to the good old moniker we used in Hog Heaven, “Stinky.”

On August 30, Dr. Dave Downey and I took our sons, Mark and Shannon, to the top of Mt. Reynolds, which sits on the Continental Divide, south of Logan Pass. Reynolds has a couple of Class IV pitches near the summit where ropes are used, but it is what mountaineers call a friendly mountain. The problems encountered are predictable and avoidable. These are falling rock, tremendous exposure and lightning.

Falling rock is avoided by constant attention and clean climbing. Lightning is avoided by staying off the peak during electrical storms.

Exposure cannot be avoided, but is handed by rope belays where needed and by carefully considering the end results of falling several thousand feet without benefit of a parachute.

The trip was a birthday present for Mark and I am sure there is nothing he could have appreciated more. He and Shannon got to look at land covering over a hundred miles from the Great Plains to the Cabinet Mountains. They observed rare wildlife ranging from majestic moose to tiny water ouzels, but most of all, they learned something about what it takes to climb above the crowd. By trying and succeeding, they heard that inner voice that says, “Well done.”

They shall never forget that day on the mountain with each other and their dads, but most of all… they will never forget that day on the mountain with themselves.

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