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By Ann King
I haven’t been out much as of late. It’s nose-nipping cold out there. The sun looks so inviting. Bright, cheery yellow. The sky an ocean blue. Then I open the door and am blasted with bone-numbing cold. Hastily, I withdraw, turn up the heater and crawl back into my nest of blankets, bundling against the false promises of a welcoming day.
About a week ago, the temperatures began to warm around 10 in the morning and remain tolerable until three in the afternoon when the sun began to edge toward the horizon. Still I wore a jacket to brace against the chilly breeze, but the urge to go for daily walks returned. I need to wear off winter’s accumulation from eating and nesting. On my next day off I would brave the elements, regardless.
I had found a new area to explore last November. From the main dirt road, paths abounded in near every direction, courtesy of mule deer. All I had to do was choose. I decided for my first serious walk in four months, I’d stick to the main road as far as the dry riverbed to see what was new, what had changed. Return to the cache of stones where I’d found pocketfuls of petrified wood. Perhaps more had washed down from the surrounding hills. Not a long hike. Only about three miles on fairly level terrain.
As usual, I packed my camera, lunch, water and brought my new triple-stitched brown canvas satchel for collecting items of interest. It has five zippered pockets. Don’t have to worry about anything falling out. At 11, I set out on my first big adventure of the season.
My first discovery, I’ve fallen farther out of shape than imagined. Traversed the ditch without difficulties, but a two percent half-mile incline of road left me gasping. Onward! Adventure awaited. I increased my pace across the flatland. The riverbed remained unchanged, but I couldn’t find the location where I’d collected scores of petrified wood. However, halfway up a hill, an expanse of varied-sized stones caught my eye.
A third of the way up, during pauses to examine interesting rocks, I noted a saddleback ridge. I studied several paths and opted for the one up the middle. A beautiful gnarled tree grew near the summit. I had to photograph it. Deer, no doubt, bounded up the well-traversed rut without a thought. At each small plateau, I paused to reassess my route.
Careful to avoid thin roots that snaked out everywhere, I pressed upwards, ever upwards. The tree did not disappoint. Half-naked branches reached for the cloudless sky. Thick roots clung to the topsoil, much as I sought to keep my balance as I took several shots. Another 50 feet, the summit. Victory!
The pall of winter fell to the wayside when I crested my mini mountain. As spectacular views go, the sight on the far side would rate about average. Another dry rocky riverbed, a lot of trees and scrub. But my spirit had been rejuvenated! I turned to descend the way I’d come and array of scenic wonders spread before me. Distant peaks of Zion, lakes, a cluster of houses nestled in the next valley indicating a small town.
My trophies for the day are dozens of shots of that fabulous tree that silently beckoned me to do something different. No longer do I eschew hills, thinking them too difficult or I too incapable. I look at hills with determination, and set forth with confidence to see what lies on the other side.
For in small victories comes great satisfaction. It is irrelevant if no one else knows of or witnesses your grand event. You know. And that’s all that matters.
Contact King at email@example.com.