Tuesday, January 26, 2016

good enough

I looked at my watch and couldn't believe it had taken me around an hour to get up the first semi summit. I remembered looking casually at the watch face, the way one does, as I unlatched it from the hip pack I was leaving behind and put it on my wrist. I hadn't worn it in nearly a year.  I hadn't had cause to. Which is the opposite of what it seems: I hadn't had the freedom to slip off into a big enough chunk of time to need to know when it was I was resurfacing. 

I thought it had said 9 down there on the road and here it was nearing 10 and I was only standing on Good Enough. In knee deep power. Sweating. Watching from the corners of my eyes breakings of light; shooting stars brought on by extremely low blood sugar.

In the snow and resting fog I could see about 4 feet in front of me, give or take all my inability to decipher spatial relations.  The field of visibility, whatever it truly was, was getting smaller and I realized something: I had not checked the weather before heading into the mountains in the snow.  But I had missed the trail head on my first pass due to the current conditions.  And I had forgotten to eat breakfast. 

Maybe I had left the house in a little too much haste.... 

I walked the ridge heading for the tree.  When I got there I sat down beneath it in a nest of snow.  

I thought about Good Enough, the first ridge that breaks out of the canyon and how it is only named that to me.  How every time I have hiked it I think this is good enough and yet in the 20 years, I have hiked this trail I have never once settled for it.  

Not the July day I passed out running in the miniature valley where the grouse hens haunt the oaks.  That day I took the summit with bloody knees and a laceration on my elbow that should have been stitched. 

I hiked beyond it that snowy November day with my sister, drinking warm beer out of her backpack as we went.  Stumbled home to my parents house.  Shooting each other looks of conspiracy across the dining room table.  

I've hiked passed it when I was pregnant and supposed to be on bedrest but so stir crazy I had to go.  

Hiked it crying and laughing, angry, sick, and numb.  Hiked the ninjas up and over it, them free & shirtless under the blazing sun.  Flew over it in a rush to see what was left after a lightning strike set a blaze that cut across the foothills only to meet a crew of Hot Shots still lingering on the mountainside.    

From out of the grey haze the sound of a dog. Then another.  They appeared with enough warning for me to get to my feet before they found me.  Minutes behind them their owner.  A woman.  We greeted each other and talked about the dogs.  

Then she asked me, "Are you going up or down?" 
"Well, that's what I don't know," I said, "I'm trying to decide."

"You should go up. It's lovely." Then she looked around her a little less sure, "Well like this." The 4 of us standing in the clouds.  We parted.  She continued her descent flanked by the dogs heading for Good Enough and I headed up alone.  Leaving good enough behind.

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