Of the lower part of the trail, I knew every shrub and stone- where bees had tucked their hive years before, where young people chased each other and made love in the river bed below, where once, a friend, drunk, came close to falling. I had pulled him upright and carried him much of the way down.
Swelter, rain, wet, cold, awake, dreaming. Where I had walked and how I had walked – I thought of this all as the all. Then came the rounding and an unexpected ascent that exposed miles of still higher trail exposed in sun, thinner air, and bends unknown. A soot gray lizard shot in front of my shoes. Had this pass been here forever? How was it that I had not found it until now?
I retraced the line of memory for just that day, the events that brought me to this point. A light breakfast, coffee, stepping one leg at a time into my jeans and pulling on familiar boots. A church bell marked time as I began my climb as it had for more than a century.
But there, at the foot of the next passage, my thoughts popped and I heard the pound of my heart as it pushed blood through my inner ears. So this is where it starts, I heard myself say. And with all that had gone before, I had come only as far as this starting point- with the sun more than half way across the sky.
Not one second more for looking back.