On Monday, we drove past Monarch ski resort to the Waterdogs trail head. Fanny packs loaded with water, snacks, first aide, matches and other various required survival essentials we prepared to embark - but not before my mama handed me a walking stick.
I held the collapsable ski pole in my hand scoffing at the idea that I needed help up the mountainside but immediately acquiescing as pleasing my mama ranks carrying the ski pole. I don't need it, but I will carry it.
Within steps, my senses filled with the rich, heavy scent of wet pine while the constant wash of rushing water challenged the rumble of the highway we left behind us. The path follows a mountain stream, full of melted winter snow tumbling over stones and forest death and galloping in wet rushes toward the basin below; we walk up against the flow, against nature's lead.
I let the tip of the walking stick hit the dry path and the rocks that steep the earth toward Waterdog Lake, our ultimate destination. At times, though it is still a mere accoutrement, the ski pole steadies my weight as the small pebbles and dry pine needles beneath my feet give way beneath the friction of my passing.
We stop and breathe as the elevation change equals or exceeds a two thousand feet rise. Air and the ease with which we suck it in becomes increasingly difficult - and when we can no longer hear our heartbeats in our heads, we turn our faces toward the mountain top and press onward.
by man and those made by the mountain as we walked. The downed trees, whether by saw or wind, water
and time always make me
respectfully melancholy -
These left along the path but cut
for our passage struck me with
a poignant thought about what
we humans waste for our
selfish desires and comfort -even
as I enjoyed the path.
The walking stick, once an accessory, acted as necessary appendage for our journey down the mountain as I leaned and sturdied myself on its half inch width with each step.
And I scoffed at my scoffing.
And I thought of this space - this space I've avoided because I only write of loss and how I wanted to not need it, how much I want to be the mama who took her babies with their Grammie to the top of this mountain and let them slip their shoes off and play in the banks of its melted snow, the one who believed that we could do anything.
As the torn ligaments in my knees, years-old injuries, pinched with each steep step down, I strategically placed my mama's offering to me, the walking stick, against the solid earth of the mountain and found my way down.
This is my walking stick - this is the place where when I am lost in the wilderness of grief - I find beauty and truth - and I shouldn't have scoffed.
1 Corinthians 1:9 She holds onto hope for god is forever faithful.