Continental Divide: Mile 400

My eyes blinked open to the blue-pink haze of dawn and I smiled.

“This is going to be a beautiful day,” I whispered.

But it wasn’t enough, wasn’t convincing. Neither the world nor I quite believed me. I stumbled to my feet, yesterday’s weariness falling off my body, my head tilting toward the sky, air rushing into my lungs.

“This is a beautiful day!” I shouted.

Thunder shattered the silence as i walked, its deep rumble reminding me that there are greater things than I in this world. Beautiful. Hail rained from the heavens, popping across the landscape for an instant before melting into the desert sand. Beautiful. The grey blur of a coyote raced after a rabbit, both too focused on their dance to notice me. Beautiful. The black fingers of a burnt forest reached out as I passed. The trees looked like twisted corpses better suited for a wizard’s castle than a New Mexican desert. Beautiful.

The edge of a mesa dropped away as if it were the world’s end, leaving nothing but a tangled sea of rock, a picture of the American West, in its absence. Beautiful. The soul searing rattle of a snake pierced the deepest recesses of my mind, a diplomatic siren to prevent a war. Beautiful. Lightning broke the darkness over two distant mesas as a pair of storms fought for attention. Beautiful.

From the moment my eyes opened to the dawn, I never saw another person, but I was not alone.

Sometimes, when you call, the Wild listens. It’s raw edge rises to greet you, to pierce your consciousness, to knock the dust off your spirit and leave it shining electric in a sometimes dark, dark world.