The morning sun rose to find us perched on the side of a mountain, me on top of Ant, ever clutching at my mat as I tried to crawl upward. Our precarious position was on the one ledge under the one tree with enough room to house us for the night, and our home was quite slanted.
We packed up our items, watching in horror as our pot went ass over teakettle right down the mountain. It stopped at the last moment, and we burst out laughing. What a morning!
We hiked upward off the mountainside, uncrimping our necks and stretching out our lopsided legs. The air was full of pine and cool springtime scent. A chill was in the valley, helping us press ever upward.
We walked along in time, happily talking over the puff of the battle uphill, simply stoked to be together after the long separation. I told Ant all sorts of things I had seen, and Ant told me all sorts of things about the town and the travel. We had so much to say that the morning had quite passed away before we stopped to snack and fill water.
We came to the most beautiful little creek, all a chatter in the healthful hillside air, probably telling us all sorts of secrets about the mountains when they were high and new, and the people and animals that had come before. Not understanding a thing, we forded it in slow motion, ouching and yowzaing our way across the frigid, sharp bed.
And then we were sailing upwards again, listening to music and The Hobbit and always pausing to munch or point out a critter or beautiful sight. One mile, two miles, three miles, four. They passed quickly, and we stopped often to nuzzle or smile or snap a picture.
The day was easy and the company perfect.
And then, all of a sudden, we passed over a highway and there was trail magic! Sodas and pickles and mini Oreos. It was heaven. And then, as the shadows grew long and the poodle dog bush started its attack, another trail magic oasis appeared. Carrots and apples and bananas! I took a carrot and apple and Ant a banana.
I bit into the carrot and was instantly back at Urban Stables, sharing the treat with Dusty, my sweet old man of a horse. “One for me,” I bit the carrot, “one for you,” and he never minded the spit or the sharing, always the perfect gentleman when accepting snacks.
Awakening to the present, we became vigilant about the evil poodle dog bush. It grows steadily with the help of fire and then rain. It sneaks in around other sweet plants, and stretches its nasty arms out to grab you as you walk along the trail or squat to pee. It loves to spread out in lovely flat campsites, making our lengthening day of hiking feel even longer.
“It feels malignant,” croaked Ant, paranoid with fear (Ant’s skin is a genius at breaking out in the grossest rashes at the drop of a bat).
So here we are, tucked away all full and happy without fear.
And “ever the best of friends,” as Joe would say to Pip in Great Expectations.