Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Roads Go Ever On

Valhalla Ranch lodge east
Valhalla Ranch
Roads Go Ever On -- J.R.R. Tolkien
Winter's irons and chains are melting; mud, potholes, and determined thoughts of escape remain.
Should I pack up, or stay? Here, comfort and familiar faces, established morning and evening rituals -- the bowl on the top left shelf, the tea on the bottom right, in the back, buy more dish soap, more honey --
But those places beyond the horizon are calling: Kahtahdin, Key West, Kitsap, Kilimanjaro, all  offering vague promises of enchantment -- tasteless meals scratched together on cold mornings, tendons made sore by hard ground that was a bed ... discomforts that irritate, demanding the sleeping bag unzipped, the blankets pushed back. 
Stagger out into the day to greet the dawn. Another day, alive. Deo gratias!
Still, too-frequent decisions to move on risk exhaustion. An accomplished and trail-wise friend describes her decision not to do long hikes on the Appalachian Trail, saying that she might discover in the numbing endless days of fifteen-mile slogs and damp clothes that she actually does not like backpacking after all. 
Should I go, or should I stay? Another year of rest -- or two, or more, stretching into the twilight mist?
No. There's a cliff ahead, but it deserves no fear. All that's necessary is the confidence to stride toward the edge, eyes on the stars, singing.

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