Humans aim high for all sorts of reasons, and only one is the heat.

Some people head for the hills to shake off the detritus of the city, others to luxuriate in the lap of at least temporary luxury. Some relish the majesty of the view and the intimacy with nature. Others abandon themselves to outdoor play. Some are struck by the grandeur of creation; others weigh the obligation of conservation.

It's a region of endless variety, where mountain high, river deep exist side by side; where the rocks of ages are exposed and the necessities of earlier times -- rifles, bows, ropes, fishing hooks, canoes, horses -- have been turned into sporting equipment. You can re-create the past without surrendering the conveniences of the present. You can whistle in the wind or simply enjoy the silence.

Whatever the inspiration, it's hard not to feel a growing excitement with the increasing elevation. "Summit," "peak," "zenith" -- all these words have emotional connotations as well. The mountains not only represent escape, they promise a reunion with our better selves. We breathe more deeply, see more clearly, think more calmly . . . and maybe we can even sleep with the windows open.

-- Eve Zibart