Sunrise. The parking lot. Four of us. Friends, some old, some new. Woodsmoke, pack and unpack. Balancing water supply with the unknown. A blister already there, but lace up tight and hope for the best. From 10,000 feet to 12,600. This was my idea remember. How hard can it be? “It’s only five hours,” someone says, dismissing the hike before it begins. But that’s one way I come to find out. We do 7:10 total but I’m getting ahead of myself, and I never once thought or cared about the time. How could you when you are staring at what surrounds you? Oxygen. Less and less. Quads asking for more, lungs too but that’s okay.
I find myself alone, trance-like. Breath, step, breath, step. A wonderful time to think and enjoy. Everything. Everyone. Closer we are when embarking together. Conversation. Connections. “I know her too, she’s fantastic.” Small world. Switchback. Stone. Carvings in the aspen trees. “Pat you suck.” I don’t know who you are Pat, but you must really suck because carving trees isn’t easy.
We make the saddle and the wind and cold announce themselves. Hood up. Vertical now. A scramble. Tallis field. Looking up in wonder at when I’ll arrive. Looking down at where we were just before. The summit. Pecos, Truchas, Jemez, Taos. All there to witness. Crystal clear. A stone break from the wind. Thank you unknown builder. Food. Quiet. A friendly face. Sock changes.
I think of family and am somewhat melancholy. Why can’t they be here with me? Amy too? This world needs a guardian. Otherwise. Gone baby gone. Decent brings deception of ease. But oh how wrong you are. The mountain always holds the Ace of Spades. The down isn’t all down. Humping. Up, then down, then up again. Happiness in the form of advanced fatigue. Hey, never said I was up for it. But I am. After I’m too tired to sleep. No soreness. No Lyme curveball. Just memories and plans of a return trip.