The Cast: Erich (the weather watcher), Myself (the guy with the spare boots).
Ideal hiking weather is different for everyone. Personally, I enjoy a little cloud cover and some minor precipitation. It keeps the sun off your back and the moisture keeps you cool. Yes, to me a foggy or cloudy day with a little rain while hiking through the mountains is best.
It was just another spring morning. I was in my backyard doing nothing in particular when a small group of clouds moved in out of nowhere and settled in on neighboring mountains that lined the east edge of town. It was very early that morning, which meant that if I got started right away I might find Erich soon enough that we could get ready and maybe reach the mountains before the fog lifted. As I stood there staring the clouded majesty, imagining what fun could be had, I knew it was more than likely not going to happen that particular morning. Because finding Erich could sometimes be tricky.
“Hey! There you are!” Erich called out. “Did you see the fog?”
“Yeah. I was just thinking how nice it would be to go for a hike.” I replied.
“That’s why I’m here. As soon as I saw it I came running.” Erich said with a big smile, “Shall we go?”
It had been rainy lately and Erich would need some boots. My dad had a pair down in the basement that he almost never wore. We could borrow them and clean them up afterward. So now, we just needed some lunch. Moving quickly we headed for the kitchen and began to look for resources. I grabbed my satchel and a spare (remember Indiana Jones is awesome) as Erich began to look through my kitchen for things we could take with us (he knew where things were). All we found were a few slices of bread and some rocks that could be mistaken for rolls—unless you tried to bite one.
In no time at all we both had our Dr. Jones’ “man purses” filled with water bottles peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and few of those bread rocks. My dad’s hiking shoes (almost new) fit Erich’s feet just fine. One look out the window and we could see the fog moving along. We had to get going if we were to be in it!
The fog was moving quickly. So we did too. My home was already on the North edge of town so we just headed across the main street and then northeast to catch the fog. We went around the LDS temple grounds and wandered through some farmers’ fields—careful not to disrupt or ruin what they had worked on. It doesn’t look that far when you’re on level ground, or from an overhead map, but shortly after Erich and I reached the base we needed a little refreshment. We found that those stones we had wrapped in aluminium foil had somehow turned into bread. Maybe it was the humidity, the foil, body heat given off, something else, or a combination of things. Regardless, they were now soft, tasty and very welcome. We resumed the hike.
The sky was clearing but the temperature was still cool—ya’ gotta’ love spring time. As we climbed and wandered throughout the mountain side finding all manner of wonders. There was a section of mud in rainbow colors. It was only a small area, but the mud was like God himself had painted the mud with a brush—the ribbons of color were that distinct. Given the surrounding area I would never have believed it if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. There was a column of distinct green, then blue, then yellow, then red. We spent plenty of time making new colors with this natural wonder.
Once back on course the journey was like any other hike. Eventually we were high enough to hit the little snow still left behind by Winter. We threw snowballs for fun and at each other. We discovered—the hard way—that many of them contained small rocks. The snow wasn’t deep. Additionally, I would not recommend to attempt snow angels when the snow is low and there are plenty of pebbles (rocks, they were sharp rocks) underneath. It hurts.
We ate lunch and rested, enjoying the fun and sun. As we finished up Erich suggested we head home. We were wet, muddy and a little tired. Also some of those snowballs with rocks had turned this journey into an “adventure”*. I couldn’t really understand why he wanted to, we were almost there. The top of the mountain. Why should we quit now?
“We can always come back another day.” Was Erich’s reason. Sure. Why not? He was right, we lived right there. Coming back would be simple enough.
I have seen on different maps what is on the other side of that ridge line. I have talked to friends that have done that hike. But I have never been back, nor seen for myself, in person, what is on the other side of that ridge line. Life has kept me busy and it has not been a priority. Erich has expressed his regret for taking us away when we were right there. At first, I had my regrets also.
As the years have passed I have had the fortune to work with youth groups and I tell this story. A tale of what happens when you come so close, and then quit. What it is like to know you could have had your goal, your prize, but then just not. All because you just simply quit.
I now use this memory to drive me. When I get worn down. When life becomes a challenge. When the road gets rocky. I am reminded of that mountain top. Of how if you want your reward, you have to just keep going. No matter what. You don’t always get a second chance.
*as noted in Where There’s a Whip, There’s a Way, an “adventure” occurs once there is blood.