Another mountain under my belt - Ed Brock

I'm starting to forget how many mountains I've actually climbed, but taken all together I'm sure they equal at least half of Mt. Everest.

Actually, I might be over the halfway mark. I looked it up.

Mt. Everest is 29,035 feet high, and half of that is 14,518 feet, rounded off. I have actually climbed over 17,000 feet worth of mountains.

Of course, to be honest, I only climbed a little over half the actual height of Mt. Fuji in Japan. The entire mountain is roughly 12,300 feet, cold enough to maintain a constant cap of snow for most of the year but not during the regular climbing season. So, I haven't had to gear up and use snow gear on my mountain climbing expeditions.

Nor have I had to use ropes and I was probably never in mortal danger, but I did climb Fuji at night in pouring rain. And I fell down and hurt my knee, too, so that's pretty tough.

But I started from what's called "The Fifth Station," one of several stopping points for the thousands of tourists who climb the mountain every year. The Fifth Station was about 4,500 feet up the mountain and was like a small town consisting mainly of hotels, gift shops and restaurants. The remaining stations are just small cabins tended by monks who may or may not burn a seal for that station onto your climbing stick.

So while I may only be able to claim to have climbed only about 7,700 feet of the mountain, it was still pretty tough.

There's another mountain I climbed, on foot, somewhere in Japan, but I forget its name and therefore can't say how high it is. But it wasn't much, so we can skip that one.

Also in Japan, I climbed a mountain on Mejima Island near Hiroshima, the name of which eludes both of us. My wife and I climbed that one on what was essentially our first date, and we did so accidentally.

How does one accidentally climb a mountain? Well, allow me to explain.

We started out on what we thought was a simple nature trail. It was flat and meandered through some nice woods and over a couple of real pretty rivers. Then it started going up, literally in steps.

By "literally" I mean that there were stone steps carved into the path, a lot of stone steps.

Well, we were still having a good time, thinking that eventually we would crest whatever hill we were on and be done with it. We were lost in our first "getting to know you" conversation. So by the time we bothered to notice that everybody else on the path was heading down, and to learn from one of them that they were heading down because this was the actual mountain path, we were nearly halfway up.

Or so we thought. Anyway, we just kept climbing, an arduous journey that took several hours, but it was a bonding experience. And on top of the mountain there were monkeys.

Now, for those of you who have only seen monkeys safely tucked away in cages at a zoo, you're missing a lot of fun. These were monkeys with no walls around them.

And some idiot American had decided to feed one of them. You should never, never feed the wild monkeys. It even said so on the signs (in English.)

Anyway, we took the gondola down, and thus ended our little jaunt. I'm estimating that mountain at 1,500 feet.

Now, in Atlanta, we've climbed Stone Mountain at least twice, if not three times. So, since Stone Mountain is 1,684 feet, that means I may have actually climbed 17,000 feet.

Then on Saturday it was Kennesaw Mountain, coming in at 1,808 feet. That was mildly challenging, trudging up a mile-long winding path that was often steep and sometimes fairly level. About halfway up we could look across to see Stone Mountain and downtown Atlanta, and the leaves were a wonderful golden green.

At the top we saw the displays of cannons and read about the duel that took place between the Confederate guns on Big Kennesaw Mountain and the Union guns on Brushy Mountain a mile away. That wasn't as cool as wild monkeys, but it was OK.

All those mountains, all around the world, and we climb them for one reason: the view.

The view from the mountaintop has always been synonymous with freedom, with spiritual enlightenment (being closer to God and all that) and with the triumph of having conquered a great height. Holding to that logic, then the ultimate experience of all those virtues must be at the top of the world's tallest mountain, Mt. Everest.

So that means I'm halfway to perfect spiritual transcendence and accomplishment. Or at least I'm getting plenty of exercise.

Ed Brock covers public safety and municipalities for the News Daily. He may be reached at (770) 478-5753 ext. 254 or via e-mail at ebrock@news-daily.com .