I felt the arid heat of this terrain drawing vitality from us as it’s splendor encouraged exploration. The sun lived in this valley, against its rays my pale ginger skin stood no chance. If I removed my shirt at midday the radiance of my pale glow could blind everyone, at-least for the two minutes before I burst into flames.
With each step powdery soil lofted small plumes of dust coating clothing and boots in a pale pink residue. Wildlife too wise to move under the midday sun rested in the shade, leaving human folly to trudge alone. Lauren and I were born to the humid wet thickets and marsh of deep Southeast Texas, here we were as fish out of water.
Everyone on this trail sought the holy grail of Palo Duro. The Light House towers, the canyon basin standing as a beacon to hikers upon their pilgrimage. Ridge lines so sharp they appeared to cut into the sky offered little shade from the sun as it pursued us to our destination. Ruth, our Miniature Schnauzer, and I agreed that neither of our genetics were designed for the desert; as she was continual panting and I was sweating like Hitler at a Bar Mitzvah.
At the base of the Light House is a poorly maintained track. I love a good sheer face top-rope, but this was loose rock and gravel, covered in powdered soil. The assent is more of a scurry and scrape than a climb, at times I felt like a cartoon character running in place but going no where. Although a bit challenging people of all ages, shape, size, and physical ability could be met ascending or descending this track.
A great many stayed at the base, rested for a while and headed back. Others chose to scurry to the ledge, but most who did attempted the peak. As Lauren and I stood upon that ledge capturing photos she asked if I wanted to continue, and for the first time in my life I said no . It shocked even me. What was this feeling of completion without conquest?
I had simply understood the truth this land had to teach me, and reaching that peek would be a contradiction. How many climb to the top of their lives or professions and find nothing but more rock? How many follow the crowd scraping and scrambling, scratching and pushing reaching for what they are told is the pinnacle of life, and find only emptiness? In the end “Adventure”/”Life ” is about the process, the journey. If the process of climbing does not make you a better person then what is the point? If you gain the world yet have no joy, no love, no art, then you have climbed for nothing. There are peaks which are ours to climb, and those which are not.
“May your trail always lead to the wonders of adventure. May you have the strength and endurance to climb the mountains upon your path, and the wisdom to hike around those in which the journey would grow you more so”. Thank you to so many bloggers who have encouraged me, total strangers who are part of a community which spans the world, an endless terrain of endless adventures and trails.