A Peak Experience - Mountain Inspiration

Have you ever had an experience in nature where you've felt extraordinarily moved? Ginny Anderson shares one of her "peak" experiences on San Bruno Mountain that she shared with longtime Mountain Watch supporter and activist Jo Coffey.

San Bruno Mountain provides emotional sustenance to many people - are you one of those lucky recipients? Ginny shares her experience to inspire others to do the same - we'd love to hear your experience.

Ginny Anderson is an ecopsychologist who works with individuals and groups in outdoor settings to help them develop and expand relationships with each other and the natural world. Ginny is a licensed psychologist, with a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Visit her website for more information.


Once in a while, we're blessed by a peak experience — some feeling or event that confirms “Yes! This is it! I’m just where I belong. Whatever else happens, I'm alive in this moment, and fully present!” Do you recognize that feeling?

Jo Coffey once invited me to view the sunrise with her from a favorite spot on San Bruno Mountain. We followed the faint beginnings of a footpath through fields of brown grasses and Bracken Fern, sparsely studded with chaparral. Hillsides were covered with Pearly Everlastings, their downy, gray-green stems and leaves topped with clusters of silver-white blossoms, and the flower of Lizard Tail added splashes of bright yellow.

We welcomed the day from a place were we could see the shoreline of San Francisco Bay to the east. As we arrived, the sun began to rise above the horizon and a small arm of fog came in from the ocean over the San Bruno Mountain summit behind us. The fog streamed toward the east, rushing to meet the sun. As the fog touched the sunlight, its drops of moisture were filled with pink radiance. Before us, two sage plants sparkled with drops of morning mist. The same fog brought imperceptible moisture to our own bodies, and I looked down to see if our arms sparkled in the way the sage did.

As the fog bank on the Diablo Range reached up toward the sun, the golden light created a silvery path on San Francisco Bay's water, and on the rooftops of buildings below us. Behind us the full moon began to wane as streams of silver sunlight reached westward toward it before it left for the day.

A cycle played out around us, wrapping us in relationship and rhythm as we were embraced by the sun and moon. In a moment, the spell was broken - the moon disappeared and the sun took on its full daytime character. Everything was in place.

We can't plan for moments like this, can't contrive to make them happen. But I believe there are places of power, particularly at dawn and dusk, where we can more easily be touched by such magic moments, when the forces of Nature enfold us. What happens in that moment becomes part of who we are, part of what sustains our awareness of belonging to the universe.