When someone begins a life of hiking they are presented with a set of unwritten doctrines outlining the “Do’s and Don’ts” of how to experience the natural world. It has been said time and time again, the proper way to hike a mountain is to plan an arrival at the trail head as first light beings to flood the sky. You are gifted with uncongested trails, crisp morning air, and the opportunity to oftentimes witness incredible vistas on the ascent. This is the way I began, and continue to hike – sometimes.
As is often the case, there is a flip side to the “day-hiking coin” -a world often left unexplored and unsurveyed. Read on, as I attempt to paint a picture for you of the hiking we many times overlook and even cast aside.
At the end of the day, once the sun begins to fade beyond the horizon, there is a noticeable calmness that gradually blankets a mountain valley. The air whispers with the sounds of people making their way off the trail, the fleeting white noise of countless cars coming and going, and the wind settling, cloud cover cracking.
There is no better time to tie up your well-travelled pair of boots and strap on your pack than this moment – moonrise.
As the moon begins to crest over the earth, I try to find a “seat” at the highest point. There is no better vantage than wrapped in a sleeping bag, engulfed by the uninterrupted view offered by the summit of a mountain. From this perspective, you become part of the show, standing in the wings as the celestial performance of Aquarius and Cassiopeia takes center stage in the heavens.
As the last light fades, the stars wake up, the Milky Way dances across the sky, and shooting stars and fluorescent clouds add a dash of contrast and excitement. If you look close enough, you can begin to understand the depth of the nightly display; vastly superior to the latest 3D technology, and far richer than the flat canvas we typically portray it as.
The night sky is alive and tells a story better than any cinematic masterpiece contrived in Hollywood.
As the main performance draws to an end, the sun begins to appear as if called back for an encore. At this moment, the full cast of luminaries; the sun, moon, and stars appear at once for a final bow. The clouds at your feet begin to lessen their grip on the world below.
The world awakes, unbeknownst that Mother Nature has just put on a performance unmatched by even the 3rd symphony.
This is the most tried and proven story line; ironically an experience that has no monetary value, but gives an inexplicable amount of importance to those that witness its grander.
In these moments I find myself at peace with the world; provided with the purest form of tranquility.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life…” HDT