I knew I shouldn’t go, it wasn’t safe, but there I was in a storm out hiking again. The biggest risk was falling trees. High winds, rain shifting to snow or ice. Big limbs swaying, fallen trees across the trail. No one anywhere, just me and my boots and my beard. It’s times like these that really harden a man: like making bone broth or chicken stock, it takes a good thrashing to get the best flavor. And I guess that’s what I wanted out of life, the flavor.
There was the guy and his daughter we met on a coastal hike who said he camped there every Christmas. His name was Bill also, a bit strange. His daughter and mine were similar ages and went off to bond, leaving me and Bill alone on the beach. Divorced, and something off about him.
Isn’t it stormy as hell that time of year, I asked? And it was. I imagined his poor daughter suffering through, imagined the tent flapping around, the wet sand and rain, the beach consumed by crashing waves…but then!, the winds dying down…the look of the mist on the trees…an eagle crying…a crack of light at dusk…and I wanted to be on that beach myself, in winter! With my kids! They’d remember that much, at least. Have a good story to tell their kids someday.
The problem started with the awareness that the days were blurring together with little to set them apart. My dad called it a “slurry,” a mixture of concrete and gravel used for filling holes. I worried that I was falling into the beginnings of old age, that mid-life slump. And that brought me back to fantasies of snow camping, of slogging my way up an exposed ridge. Maybe hormone shots would be better I thought, and require less work to feel that flavor-feeling.
I took my fish oil pills and put in my mouth guard, plugged in my phone and said “goodnight.”