the alarm went off. I quickly muted it and put my ear to the window. rain. I opened my weather app on the phone, to make sure this wasn’t part of a dream. yes, it was raining.
I went back to sleep, curling up to my husband. my original plans of Pfiefferhorn to White Baldy would have to wait. I wasn’t going to do that solo in the dark and rain.
40 minutes passed. I woke with a jolt, whispered to my husband I’d be running near Alta. I threw on my prepacked clothes, grabbed my vest, and slipped out the door a few minutes later.
up I drove. up again. the headlights reflected from the fog ahead of me, always whispering of things ahead that I could never catch. beyond the beaten paths little cottonwood has everything in mountains I love– it is wild, treacherous, and free. the rain that dusted my car deepened as I drove up.
as I started up the Catherine’s Pass trail the sunrise avoided me. the light seeped through the rain and fog; clouds danced between the mountains. my legs were heavy, so heavy. too many long days, too many peaks…they were still in there. I am strong, but that strength gave me this weakness. mentally too I am weak, broken… a sharp pencil reduced to a stub, still trying to draw lines in mountains I haven’t drawn yet. my legs are lead, but I won’t stop drawing. not yet.
I took pictures. the flowers distracted me from my breathing. clouds shifted around, changing the mountains. on a ridge, unable to see on either side of me. am I on a ridge? is this a summit? or do I keep climbing? the clouds move again and the drizzle shifts. I am near pine trees. wait, are pine trees on this ridge?
why again? I’ve done this ridge several times already this summer. yet again I’m up here, wandering around, more lost than I’ve ever been, because I can’t make out the trail I’m standing on and I can’t tell if the ridge is to my right or left or underneath me. I’m not sure what is a summit and what just is. does it matter? and I take another photo and wander to my right and to my left, trying to see.
we are playing cards, the mountain and I. the rules are ever changing, and I can’t keep up. so I take the pace down; I wander. enjoying the wet granite, the sopping clothes, the terrain. with no view I only have each step to look forward to.
why again? because this time is different. every time is different. this time is lonely in a joyful, meditative way. all the noise of races and alarms and events and group runs…. why again?
am I up again? or am I down? and it doesn’t matter, I am sleepwalking through the clouds, dancing each step alone.