It was time to start setting things straight. Life had been out of whack for a long time. With Emma's injury and subsequent surgery, my own illness, and various excuses, (Hot, Humid, Buggy) we had not been doing much hiking, and no backpacking. It had been a long time coming, and we were ready. Something small to start with, so we can hopefully work our way back to some self respect. Traffic seemed light for a Friday night so we made it to the trailhead in good time. If we hiked a decent pace we could make sunset from the summit, but I was less concerned with that than actually making it to the summit with 40lbs on my back. We had to pack in water as it is scarce enough on this hike and almost non-existent in this drought. I was just hoping my legs would hold out as I have been feeling really out of shape on the trail from lack of hiking.
We made it to the summit and were even set up in time to go and watch the last few minutes of daylight turn to twilight as the sun sank behind the hills to our west. Surprisingly I felt good. We went back to camp and chowed down our evening meal. All felt right with the world. The moon was high above us at sunset and would set before midnight, then the stars would put on their show. It felt good to be back where we belonged: In the woods, at night, together. As darkness was taking hold Brer Raven visited us and croaked his goodbyes to the sun and hellos to the moon. He left us in peace to seek his roost for the night as the crickets began their chorus of night music. There was not another sound in the world, oh how I had missed this!
"Men are kindling tiny gleams
Far below by mountain-streams
Where they dwell among the beechwoods near the shore,
But the great woods on the height
Watch the waning western light
And whisper to the wind of things of yore,
When the valley was unknown,
And the waters roared alone,
And the shadow-folk danced downward all the night,
When the sun had fared abroad
Through great forests unexplored
And the woods were full of wandering beams of light."
From "A Song of Aryador"
The Book of Lost Tales Part 1
Like the children of Iluvatar we gazed in wonder skyward as the shadows lengthened and the stars pierced the darkness one by one. The cleansing and blessings of the wild washed the sweat and effort of hiking heavy packs to this height from our bodies as we lay down for the night. A man, a woman and a dog, all felt right again! I read as my wife and dog snoozed. It was so quiet I could hear my own pulse, it was wonderful, healing. My lids grew heavy and I dozed for awhile. Eventually as I wandered in my dreams the world called me back, it was nature calling. I crawled out of the tent and stood a good while as my eyes adjusted to the starlight. The moon was now set and although the air was full of water vapor the Milky Way was still visible overhead. I crawled back inside the tent and marveled at the stillness and lack of chill. It was a perfect night to sleep out.
Hours later I noticed it was getting light in the east and I wanted to be up to witness the suns arrival heralding the new day. Sometimes it is all you need for a renewal of spirit, a cleansing of the soul, to watch the colors grow and fade at daybreak in a quiet place. Better yet to share it with some you love. Water boiled for tea as pinks and magentas painted the morning sky. We wandered about the rocky summit, taking it in from all directions and stretching legs that were tight from yesterday's work. A better scene could not have been hoped or asked for. Birds flitted in the half-light as they began their day. Clouds rolled in from the east, spilling mists over Tecumseh to our north like steam off our teacups.
When the sun was up and the colors had faded to daylight I crawled back in the tent to snooze some more. Jude and Emma scouted around the rocky places for awhile, but soon came back and relaxed at the campsite. I got up and started about breaking camp. We knew that these popular hills would soon be crawling with people as numerous as ants. Packed up we hoisted our loads again and began the trek down to the col between Dickey and Welch, then up to Welch. We passed a few hikers along the way, but as we began to descend Welch wave after wave of hikers were coming up. Most probably thought we were mad to carry so much on these little hills, not realizing the beauty we had been witness to scant hours before. As we got closer to the end of our hike we ran into the familiar faces of Pat, Audrey and Leo. We talked for a good while, it is always good to see friends on the trail. Despite the exertion of the previous evening and this morning we felt refreshed. Things were well on their way to being set straight!