Hit the Trail
John Muir said, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” Amen, brother. It’s high time I hit the trail.
For me, that means returning to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We have a long history together, the mountains and I, as gnarled and magnificent as a Bristlecone Pine. The Sierra’s pull is so strong that sometimes as I sit down to write, memories flood through me and I have to remember to breathe. I close my eyes and I’m suddenly in an alpine valley, a hidden spot off Highway 88, where an old barn leans in a meadow, hunched like an old man, the shock of a million wildflowers at his feet.
I’m in the Hope Valley, a rush of wind in my ears, like river water, my belly full of campfire cornbread smeared with honey butter, my senses electric with the shock of trembling aspen leaves, flames in the soft autumn light.
I’m at altitude where I can barely breathe, climbing higher and higher. As I lean on my walking stick, the landscape transforms to granite outcroppings, tundra grass and weather-beaten trees, the crows calling for company.
My memories are strewn throughout the landscape – and I realize I am unable to look in any one direction without the flashback of some event that pins me to the place. Over the years more good memories have taken root, crowding out the bad, spreading wide like my granddaughter’s smile. This is where my life was ripped open, and made whole again. This is my home.