Today, I hiked the Super Mario Bros Trail with Sam. We tried to find the Ridge Trail to the jumping point, but our 1st attempt landed us on a deer trail and a sudden end to that path. Now, he knew that trail wasn’t the regular way to the Ridge Trail. He believed me when I insisted that I’d witnessed other hikers ascending it. Even though he knew I had never myself taken that path, nor had I even seen the Ridge path, he led the way on my insistence, up the near vertical staircase of roots, stones and crevices, happy to just explore uncharted terrain with me. When the path delivered an overlook, we determined that following the “trail” towards the sound of the rushing water surely would lead to the actual Ridge trail, but instead the path proved itself a poorly developed deer trail.
Facing a steep slope, no trail, no roots to grab and a muddy slide/fall some 30 feet to the bottom, I contemplated my mortality in a very real and tangible fashion for the 1st time in a long time. I’m quite glad to report that my thoughts were not of accolades that I would not have had the chance to accomplish, but of the faces of my three cherubs, and the life with them that I would cruelly be starved of even as worms could become fat with full bellies of my corpse’s putrid leftovers. And of the irony of my most sacred and favorite sanctuary becoming the last place on God’s beautiful Earth that my living eyes would experience.
For a solid few minutes as I could hear and sense Sam making the treacherous descent, even as these thoughts filled my heart, I feared for his skidding straight past me, shooting over the tiny lip on which I was presently perched clasping a well-placed yearling tree. Caught in a moment of contemplation, I knew I must leap out of his way so that he could have a chance at grabbing the small trunk, or create an alternate transverse route. I did both. Quickly, I slid to the left, spun my back to the creek and caught a well-placed stone with the toe of my right foot, just in time to witness Sam land at the tree and realize my sandal was off my heel.
We made it to the bottom, muddy, scratchy and teasing each other about our adventurous spirits, but for me the exercise proved a grander point: Trust is real, and Faith exists.
We did re-enter the main trail, and even found our way to the Ridge Trail. The climbs and descents always teach me new and exciting or frustrating truths about my body and psyche, but beyond the fascinating secrets of the gorge, or the beauty of the vista offered at the cliffs towering several stories above the 3rd Dam, I will take with me from this adventure something no amount of vocabulary can express. Perhaps we are adrenaline junkies, or perhaps the condition of an extended winter hardened our resolve, and therefore the persistence for adventure, or maybe we are just two peas in a rock-n-roll pod. Life changes us as we change it, but as long as we face it together, we conquer it – not the other way around.