Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RELAX (06/08/17)
- TITLE: Hiking the Mountain
By Francie Snell
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My heart soared with childlike excitement as I thought of being there again. “Four and a half miles up the canyon? I don’t remember it being that far,” I commented to my husband as we prepared for the trip the night before. I chose to ignore my aching joints and the 20 extra pounds I’d put on over the years as I weighed my 10-pound pack on our bathroom scale.
The next morning, we eagerly started off from the trailhead for the hike. A lush green meadow spread out under a cloudless sky beckoned us on as we walked a steady pace along the soft dirt road that ran through it. The level ground continued for about a half mile before we began the gradual incline. The river roared in the distance, calling us up the canyon.
Soon the trail crossed a wooden foot bridge. The melting snow crashed down the canyon churning the water a light green. We traversed the bridge and began our ascent.
Up the steep granite stairs, impressions of hoof marks in pockets of soft dirt reminded us of a faster and easier way to make it up the mountain. Yet under the warm sun, we slowly trudged up the steps agreeing it was good exercise.
A second bridge further up the trail allowed a bird’s eye view of two equally turbulent rivers, roaring like jet engines, converging into one.
Up again we started our climb up an even more steep flight of steps. With my hiking sticks firmly placed, I heaved myself up one stone at a time when suddenly my recall kicked in. Didn’t I get sick from exhaustion when I hiked this trail before? Pondering that thought we eventually arrived at the top of the longer than I liked stairway which I pleadingly hoped was the halfway point of our expedition. I took a long deep breath with a sense of victory.
We continued laboring up the steep switchbacks around occasional fields of snow still lingering late into the season. Dry creek beds had come to life with rushing torrents of newly melted snow, and massive waterfalls cascaded down towering granite cliffs. The pine scented air was filled with sounds of rushing water from all directions.
Then I saw him in the distance, a hiker bouncing along the trail coming our way. I was suspicious of the young man’s energy as he approached us. I tried to appear cool and calm, like I wasn’t about to pass out, as I gasped for breath.
“Where’d you hike from?” my husband cheerfully asked as the man stepped around us on the path.
He stopped and looked at us. “Kennedy Lake” he chirped.
I studied his too small pack which appeared to be empty. “Did you spend the night?” I asked.
“No, just went there for a day hike.” (According to the map, he had just walked well over ten miles.)
So, at 11:00 in the morning, I was envious of the man’s apparent stamina. Yet, feeling a bit woozy, I knew we didn’t have far to go. However, we needed to take a break.
We found a level surface just off the trail and laid our backpacks in the shade of a tall cedar. Filtered sunlight streamed through its branches above us as we laid our heads on our packs. A wet mist flew high above the crashing white waters of the river a short distance away. Away from the phones, the iPhone, the radio …. For the first time that day, I began to relax. God’s country it’s called. Now I know why.
After a short snooze, I claimed my second wind and we climbed the narrow trail up the side of the mountain. The heat of the sun beating down felt good as the refreshing winds blew through the canyon.
Then finally, with a great sense of relief, we finally arrived at a crest overlooking our destination. It was the same place I vividly remembered from years before. I inhaled with a deep sense of appreciation, soaking in the raw beauty of it all. All tension seemed to flow from my body as I looked out upon the tranquil blue waters of the reservoir embraced by towering granite walls. It was a vision I will never forget.
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