Sandia Crest – 4/4
I rise up the Sandias as if they were flat, climbing into the sky for the last time on legs hardened by seven hundred miles of desert, mountains, and snow. Everything feels right for the first time. My pack part of my back. My legs infinite. My lungs pumping oxygen into my blood. I’ve returned to that form I once had, that feeling of grace you earn after weeks on a trail. I have a place in the world just in time to stare at the end of it.
Albuquerque stretches out below the crest, a maze of highways, streets, and buildings spreading from the base of the mountains toward the horizon. I watch the city light up as the sun falls. The streets transform into a grid of light, yellow and orange against the black night. People, so many people, a giant glowing mass of people. I wonder how many of them feel like me, barely in place and slipping out of it, always a bit lost.
“It will be over soon,” I tell myself, sitting on my perch in the darkness. “The trail will end and then it’s back into that tangled world.”
I try to convince myself that I solved life out here, that I know where I’m going now, or what the next step should be, but I know better than that. You don’t return from the wilderness with all the answers. I haven’t figured it out. I may never figure it out, at least not in any way that I can hang on too. Nothing permanent. Figuring life out is fleeting, it always slips through my fingers, like solving an ever-changing riddle. For moments, days, even weeks, I figure it out, but only for a moment.
In the end, it always gets away.
But wouldn’t the world be boring if I had it all figured out.