I haven’t even opened my eyes yet, but I know that today is going to be an amazing day. I notice little things all around that let me know I’m somewhere new. The sheets have a different feel than mine and the lingering scent of the detergent is faint, but distinctly different from my own. The pillow has a different texture and I feel the softest smoothest skin against mine. As I lay there taking it all in, the reality of where I am and who is next to me sends electricity coursing through my entire being. I could stay right there indefinitely soaking in that feeling, but I also can’t wait to see what the rest of the day brings.
After a slow and leisurely rise from bed and some deliberate time spent getting dressed and gathering the necessary items for the day in our backpacks, we make our way down to the truck. The first stop is a cozy little café for a light breakfast and coffee. Sitting together at a small table on the patio, we enjoy a delicious meal and talk about what the plan for the day is. Being the one in unfamiliar territory, I don’t know what to expect exactly from our chosen destination, but I know it will undoubtedly be incredible.
Once all the food has been eaten and the coffee consumed, it’s back to the truck to make our way up into the mountains to the trail head. I find myself torn between staring constantly at my beautiful companion and trying to take in the awe-inspiring scenery all around. Somehow, I seem to have forgotten the majesty of the mountains and how at home I feel in their shadow. There is a certain crispness to the air that awakens the senses and fans the flames of passion for the natural world. I can’t wait to get out and start our hike but until we arrive, I take the opportunity to reach over and place my hand in hers, letting our fingers intertwine.
Taking her eyes from the road briefly, she turns to smile and pierce my soul with those incredible penetrating eyes. My heart skips a beat and I have to consciously remind myself to breathe in again. I reach down with my free hand and pinch myself. To her quizzical look, I respond that I just had to check that I wasn’t either dreaming or dead. Though this earns me a light laugh from her that makes my heart swell, I did not mean it as a joke because surely this couldn’t be really happening.
With the truck parked we pull our packs out. I pause to tighten my boots up just a bit and check everything is secured on my pack before putting it on my back and connecting the chest and waist straps. I steal one more kiss before we make our way to the trail and set off. As we start down the trail, I find myself looking all around, more at the landscape than my footing and promptly receive a reminder of why doing so can be hazardous.
Finding a balance between taking in the unbelievable view and minding my steps, we make our way down the trail. I feel like someone seeing in full color for the first time after living a long life seeing in only greyscale. Everything looks so bright, new, and exciting. I find myself taking in even the simplest details like the distinct color of the dirt and the texture of the sparse clumps of grass. I feel exceptionally grateful for having brought along a small video camera so that I can later relive the experience over and over. Even still, I stop every so often to capture a photo of something that has jumped out and caught my eye.
After a couple short breaks and a slightly longer stop to have a trail-side lunch, we come to the area that is to be our camp for the night. We select a location to set up the tent and take our packs off, stretching a bit before starting to remove gear and set up. Working together, we have camp all set up in a short time and can take a few minutes to relax and rest our legs. The hike was fantastic, but it’s also really nice to just sit and be able to snuggle up next to each other for a bit after a full day.
Dinner is a simple affair with minimal clean up and all the while we talk and laugh with many breaks in the conversation to just be and listen to the sounds of nature. With dinner all finished, only a couple of things remain for the day. We leave our packs and equipment behind opting for just a small detachable water bottle sling and take a short walk to find somewhere to sit and watch the last traces of day fade from the sky and the brilliant color display it puts on.
As night begins to fall in earnest, we make our way back to camp and unpack our sleeping bags on a small tarp to lay out under the stars for a while. As the night comes into it’s full glory, thousands upon thousands of stars light the cloudless sky. Under the brilliant blanket of stars, we make love softly and lovingly, taking our time and enjoying every moment as if it were the last we might share.
A time later, roused from the afterglow by the chill creeping in, we wrap up in our sleeping bags and make our way to the tent where we cuddle back up, warm and cozy in each other’s arms. Somewhere in the still, calm night, we each drift off to sleep.
Most evenings I try not to control what I am thinking and just let whatever has been marinating in my mind all day come forth onto the page. Tonight though, I needed to take a bit more conscious control over my thoughts and direct them to something I personally found to be a truly delightful distraction. I had a somewhat trying day today being in a constant state of nicotine withdrawal. I really just wanted to watch a bit of TV and not think until I started to get drowsy and then head to bed.
But, just as I made a commitment to quitting smoking, I made a commitment to myself to spend some time writing every night. Some nights this is easier than others. I suspect that this will hold true with smoking cessation as well, that some days will be more challenging than others. I just have to keep reminding myself that just as I have a choice to write what I wish, I made the choice to make a change that will help me grow and live a healthier life. I have a choice as to whether or not I want to sit here irritably craving a cigarette or if I want to redirect that focus to something that helps encourage me.
I chose the daydream I described not only because I find it very all consuming in the attention department, but also because the scenario described is one that I will be able to enjoy more with this change I’ve decided to make. Hiking with the weight of a pack at altitudes where air is thinner is a physically demanding activity on its own, and gasping for air because your lungs are all clogged up takes what is an amazing experience and makes it more of an ordeal to be endured.
Anyway, thank you for letting me share my mental landscape with you this evening.