Thursday night I toss and turn thinking about my plan for Friday. This is my pattern lately: go to bed early, drift lightly into sleep then wake myself up with a question that I can’t possibly answer. That one question turns into five and I find my tired body wrestling with a very active brain.
Is there a concert at the ampitheater?
Will it be too hot to hike?
Will I have to stop for gas?
Will my body let me do a longer hike?
Should I go somewhere else?
I realize I’m feeling less adventurous and less enthusiastic these days. I’m not one of those junkies for excitement. I love a good surprise, but lately they have mostly come in the form of disappointment. I find myself doing a “hard reset” by remembering some bits of wisdom learned in the rooms from my recovery days. There are three things I can never change: people, places and things. Armed with that knowledge I begin to let go. A gradual stepping back from disappointment. Maybe my muted enthusism is just grieving private losses. I give myself permission to let go and move on.
“I could hear my abandoned dreams making a racket in my soul.”
-Joy Harjo, Crazy Brave
On my way out the door Friday the lace on my left hiking boot snaps. Sigh. More disappointment. I grab an old pair of boots and head out the door. As it happens, I DO need to stop for gas but Kelly, sensing my frustration, has made me two delicious sandwiches and so with breakfast and a second cup of coffee, I hit the road.
I could do this drive in my sleep. It’s still oddly warm for this hour so I roll down my window and open my moonroof. There are two cars behind me so I pull over to let them pass and then I can enjoy the stars at my own pace. It feels like a (not so) hidden metaphor and so I smile, breathing it all in.
There is nothing dramatic about sunrise this day but the alpenglow on the mountain is stunning. I step out and the wind is whipping. Dust is swirling up like a small tornado as the gale force of this wind lifts it up from the ground. I grab my pack and my camera and I head for Sourdough Ridge. There are two raptors high in the sky, soaring in the stiff breeze. I have never felt the wind here like this. Near the bench on the ridge I have to steady myself. There is a puffy cloud above the mountain that seems to be covering the summit and bending at the tips, making angles out of the puffy white.
I walk the nature trail and across the ridge to Frozen Lake. Surprisingly few people on this trail. As I reach the intersection I have to choose a direction. I know it will get busy at Burroughs and Fremont and I’ve already been to Berkeley this year, so I choose Skyscraper, hoping my legs will carry me. The wind is stiffening but invigorating. I choose the road less traveled and I see no one until I reach Skyscraper Pass. Almost perfect.
As I head up toward the summit I realize I have forgotten my poles. This section is steep and the trail is dry and slippery. I don’t chance it. I head back down and find a rock to sit on at the Pass. I write a little and do my best to be one with the wind.
It’s been quite a year. My folk’s move was no small thing and Kelly’s diagnosis and subsequent surgery were quite a surprise. At this writing, all is well. I remind myself how fortunate I am to have an engaged family and loyal friends. There is a lot to be learned from challenging times and I have paid close attention. I know that I’ll get my mojo back eventually. I suspect that everything is unfolding as it is meant to and I need only pay attention to the path beneath my feet.
“Feed the soil, not the plants”
– Charles Dowding
On my way back I take the long way. There are marmots and pikas and chipmunks.
In one small grove of trees there are mountain bluebirds everywhere, playful and noisy.
No bears today. No foxes. I see a herd of mountain goats way across Berkeley Park that number in the dozens. They are too far away for a good shot, but I do head a few hundred feet feet down the Berkeley trail to see if I might get a better view. I stop when I realize I am only adding to the upshit required to get me back to Frozen Lake.
All in all I clocked over 9 miles in my nearly seven hours at the mountain. My body keeps surprising me in the best ways and I am preparing for a few more hikes before the season comes to a close. Thanks for joining me on another adventure. I never tire of this mountain and I hope you don’t either.