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The Hike

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posted on Mar, 16 2014 @ 04:37 PM
(Note: This is a story from my childhood wanderings...)

The Hike

I close the heavy glass sliding door behind me, and then scrabble at the screen, which sticks a bit on its track, slamming it into place with more force than I intend. The blue-grey of the waterproofed, textured paint on the porch is gritty against the rubber soles of my hiking boots. I hitch up my jeans and adjust the canteen filled halfway with water that pulls on my waistband, and bumps and sloshes against my hip. My long hair swings heavily in my pony-tail as I bounce down the steps to the rough concrete and rock patio, breeze already stirring lightly in the navy blue windbreaker I wear against the slight, shifting chill.

I angle up the steep slope of the back yard, taking in the deep, cloudless blue sky, the dry yellow of the prairie grasses on the surrounding foothills, the deep green of pine and the determined, yet fading green of our end-of-summer lawn.

The small hardwoods on our property are turning with the season to shades of red and maroon – the only hardwoods in sight, as far as I can tell, planted by my father and kept alive with endless buckets of water heaved and dumped by my brother and I, they are oddly out of place on the mountain terrain, like the marching rows of tulips in spring my parents lovingly tend.

The ground feels dry; bare earth peeking out from the scrubby grass at the edge of the neat, sod lawn, lumps of rock and red dirt spill down, are disturbed by my tromping feet. Muscles pumping, breath catching just a bit from the quick, upward push, I move quickly, energetically, anticipating the adventure.

I take a breath at the mouth of our neighbor’s dirt driveway, where we stand to get the bus during the week. The breeze teases me again; a quick rumple of my thin bangs, a nudge against the nylon of my jacket. The steep mountain road is empty of traffic, so I cross leisurely onto our neighbor’s property and quickly cut through the side of their yard to reach where the land turns up to meet the sky.

I am determined to make it all the way up to the rocky ridge, where massive boulders lock against each other like the fossilized spine of some ancient monster. There is no trail to speak of, unless a thin deer track can be found crisscrossing my careful path. There are silver-green bunches of sage warming their sweet, heavy scent into the air along with ragweed and the occasional puff of floating cottonwood seed. Golden yellow grasses wave a subtle hay-scent as I pass.

There are multiple hazards of cactus patches with their wicked red spines, of stinging nettles, thorny briars and sections of unsettled stones that will slip under the surest foot. I pick my way slowly, threading around these perils, occasionally back-tracking, but mostly I go in upward angles, pressing towards the unexplored territory of light grey granite and twisted metamorphic rocks, that loom above. Other than the occasional rub of the breeze bumping into me, or the random scurry of an unseen creature, the way is peaceful and I step rhythmically, keeping a rough pace, stopping to look back at the receding roofs of houses; my white and brick-red home looks small against the hills, my eleven year old heart feeling freer and lighter for it.

I adjust my gaze upwards, shielding my eyes in the early afternoon sun, which is brilliantly blazing at the new tilt of fall, it’s angle feeling different than the straight-down hot pounding of summer. The breeze pulls longer wisps from my ponytail and waves them in the air, tickling my face and neck in Trickster delight. I blow my hair from my mouth, legs balancing on the steep angle, and unhook my canteen. It is a teal plastic bottle wrapped with a metal belt-hook. The black lid unscrews easily and cool wellwater swishes into my mouth, like liquid crystal. I don’t drink too much, not wanting to run out, and not wanting to have to pee on this outing.

Taking another moment to catch my breath, I remember the day I hiked this same direction only to suddenly stop with the intense feeling of being watched. It had been a day similar to this one, in every respect, only a year earlier. My eyes had scanned above me and then suddenly lit upon the fierce and foreboding gaze of a very large, very wild bird. I wasn’t sure what kind it was, but it was the largest bird I’d ever seen outside of a zoo, and there was nothing between us but about twenty yards of air; it held the high ground. It was a tawny golden color, and I wondered if it could be a Golden Eagle. While rare, it was certainly a possibility; we had all kinds of wildlife in the area. It’s wildness was tracking me; I could feel it boring into me with a hunter’s gaze and, fear lacing through my young self, I wondered if it would swoop down on me and attack if I came too near. I felt that if it could speak, the bird would have blared out a nasty warning at me to go away, that I was in it’s territory. I watched it warily for a few moments, frozen at the strangeness. The bird won. I high-tailed it home that day, as frightened as a jackrabbit.

But today there are no signs of danger; no snakes or other creatures are showing themselves to me. I am confident that I, with my companion breeze, will make it easily to the ridgeline. I put the canteen back on my waistband, wiping some cool drops against my face before plugging onward up the hill at my steady, scattered pace. Stinging nettles attach to my shoelaces.

Almost to the ridge, I can barely see the roof of my house due to the angle of the slope. Slabs of rock make the going dangerous, and I can see my original plan to climb the stone outcrop in line with my house is not going to work – the broken, shifting stones there are too easily slipped out of place.

I trudge onward, to the south, dipping under the barbed wire cow fence of the ranch on the other side of the ridge. I catch my jacket and panic for a moment, trying to free it without ripping. In relief, I get it unhooked with no real damage. Onward, I hike past pine trees and slumps of massive rock, working around to find a way up to the top of the larger stones. The breeze rustles through the trees with a whispering “ahhh,” getting louder just before reaching me, then receding off to play down the side of the foothill with a “shhh” through the grasses. It is so quiet, other than the wind, as far up as I am. I continue to chase the edge of the ridge.


posted on Mar, 16 2014 @ 04:39 PM

With excitement, I find a wedge-shaped split in a mammoth- size chunk of granite that creates a sort of pathway up to the top of the rocks. I push my way through it, my heart open somehow, strangely light. My hands feel along the rough cut in the stone, fingers digging into small depressions to pull me along, and finally, I am through and up and on top.

Forgetting the long, weary legged moments up the slope, I am bounding like a deer from rock to rock, hopping along their broad backs, looking for the perfect place to sit and rest before the afternoon light pushes me back down the slope to home and dinner and blaring modernity. The wind tosses joyfully around me; we celebrate the victory. I am here at last, alone, on the top of the world, with pine scented air and rock and the swish of grasses.

There is a smooth, rounded rock that is big enough to lie on comfortably, and so I do, taking off my jacket and bunching it under my head for a pillow, after removing my canteen for a quick blissful swig. I lay here, looking straight up into the deep, deep cloudless blue, my mind spinning, falling to the edges of it. My body, pressed by gravity into the rock, seems to melt into it, my thoughts slow, I feel the pulse of stone-time, stone-thoughts, that felt the 600,000 years since the Precambrian Era like it was naught but a moment.

I close my eyes against the blue and feel the weight of my body against the cool hardness of granite. The breeze calms and makes it’s “ahhhh” sound farther away. The sun drips down further in the sky, and my mind stretches open, so far, so wide. I feel deep into the earth, and with my eyes open again, I launch to the rim of space. From here, from this slow, still, long lingering point, I feel the spin of the earth. I wonder, in essence, where I am, so far flung to the sky, to the planet’s core; I am something vast, and tiny, in the midst of that broad view. For a moment, a brief moment, I feel like I am falling, absorbing into the rocky crust beneath my back, and I jerk my thoughts in a startle, my breath coming out in a gasp. I adjust back to my small self like a rubber band stretched to the breaking point suddenly snapping back to it’s original shape. I blink. I look at the sun, hanging in a darker shade of molten gold, and realize I’ve been on the mountain as long as I can be and still make it back in time for supper.

As I sit up, everything comes into the sharpest of focus; the colors and angles and shapes are all brighter, keener, oddly stark. I move, unsteadily at first, to get to my feet, and slowly allow the blood to get to my head. I reach for the smooth plastic of my canteen and twist the black lid open. I tip it to my lips, seeking something to ground me. As the water coldly trickles down my throat, I feel the chill of the breeze pushing against my bare arms. I put the canteen lid on, heave myself to my feet and swipe a hand down to grab the windbreaker.

I juggle the canteen onto my waistband and slide into the smooth sleeves of the navy jacket, feeling detached still, with a sense of unreality. I stomp my feet against the rock, jolting a bit of sense into my brain, shocking nerves into action, my whole being feeling like its been shoved into a tight fitting shoe; I’m not sure how I fit into myself.

Taking a deep piney breath, I head for the crevasse I climbed through to get to the top, feet scraping loudly on granite, breeze swirling around me, embracing me, hair tickling, eyes adjusting to here and now and this step and that hazard. My heart still feels strangely large. I head for home.

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 05:18 AM
reply to post by AboveBoard

That is a beautiful introspective AB!

I can relate to the specific subject matter also. There is something about getting good and close to the geology around oneself, which is inherently nourishing to the soul, as long as one does not encounter it with enough speed to cause injury of course
As ever, reading your account of this stroll into nature was nearly as good as being there, such was the vividity of your description.

Thank you for a wonderful reading experience!

posted on Mar, 17 2014 @ 01:33 PM
reply to post by TrueBrit

Thanks, TrueBrit!
I appreciate you stopping by. (I was getting lonely being the only one in the thread! LOL!)
I'm glad my adventures did not include connecting with geology in such a way as to cause injury!

peace & gratitude,


posted on Mar, 18 2014 @ 04:36 PM
reply to post by AboveBoard

Well i sure enjoyed reading that to. Nothing beats re living childhood adventures. Especially outdoor ones. I could actually close my eyes and imagine it
...Nice as always

posted on Mar, 18 2014 @ 04:42 PM
reply to post by TheDoctor46

Hey, thanks, Doc!

I most appreciate you stopping by to read and respond!!! I grew up with "NATURE" in full force right outside the door, though I don't know that I appreciated it back then. Now, I'm a city dweller with a thankfully large lot (considering those around me), and while it's awesome to have a grocery store half a mile away, part of me misses being on the far fringe of a city.

Thanks again!

- AB

posted on Mar, 18 2014 @ 04:45 PM
reply to post by AboveBoard

No problem. I also grew up outdoors. And i still like to get out there. Yes you don't really appreciate it until later in life
...Keep the good work coming

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