And if you could climb up, how far would you go? What would you see? What would you call out?
I wake up at the precise moment the sun passes the upper limits of the opposing ridge of mountains. In doing so, the day and I become twins, born and rising together. We pass along the forest, greeting hikers as we go and entertaining the birds with our movements. As the sun goes up so do I, the plateau gently rises from where I woke to where I’ll sleep but the slope is easy and slow, perfect for hiking.
This entire expanse of land is abandoned–covered in snow and Ponderosa Pine and lonely old Highway 67, closed for the season. I stop by Jacob’s Lake, a small resort/cafe/general store that has nothing to offer, not even a desperately needed tube of sunscreen. I settle for a Dr. Pepper (useless against skin cancer…) and drink it on their patio while trying to give advice and directions to an old Japanese couple who are trying to visit the Grand Canyon. They speak no English and I speak no Japanese, so theres lots of hand motions and me just saying “No go, no go. Snow, snow,” over and over.
I decide, while watching the bugs flit about, to simply walk the highway all the way to the north rim of the Grand Canyon, some 40 miles away. The trail through here is patchy with snow, but that all changes a little ways south. For 20 miles of trail, according to the Arizona Trail hikers (all of whom are walking north) the snow is deep and blankets the whole region. I drain the last bit of sugary soda and take off into the evening, passing an old fire lookout tower just as the sun is going down.
Speaking of Arizona Trail hikers, if you add up all the backerpackers I’ve seen in all the days prior to this one, it would not equal even a quarter of what I’ve seen today. And still, their number is few. They’re in their final days on trail, and many seem pleased with their lives.
Something has clicked–I’ve waited for it. I was reading M.O. after dinner and there is was, that shiny little trinket tossed out the window in a fit of rage and covered up with dust and earth. I looked down, burrowed my foot into the dirt and saw that unmistakable glint of light and said,
Yes, it was real.