``We should leave the earth in an equal or better condition than what we found here,'' is the philosophy pervading this account of a trip through the celebrated mountain range. Poetic and introspective moments offset the ideology: ``I know I am nothing, absolutely nothing out here. Yet I am everything, because I am a life made of earth itself . . . . I stand until the winds feel cold, and then . . . I hunt for shelter among the rocks.'' Tense scenes of high adventure, such as the author's first experience climbing a mountain, or his night atop a summit during a lightning storm, relieve a frequently heavy, slow pace. The chapter on Lake Tahoe is an elegy to a fading beauty and is a particularly good example of the author's strengths. Palmer, a regional planner who has explored and written about the nation's rivers and mountains, balances statistics with portraits of the region's inhabitants, descriptions of nature with challenges to the intellect. ``Is freedom a matter of empty space?'' asks this thought-provoking work. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/03/1988 Release date: 11/01/1988 Genre: Nonfiction
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