Maybe it’s because I missed out on the experience in high school. Maybe it’s because I come from a competitive family. Maybe it’s just because I’m a millennial.Whatever the reason, I appreciate superlatives. They help me to remember things, to categorize experiences and file them neatly for retrieval even when Lyme reshuffles and upends up the files. By this system, the summer that I spent “peak bagging” the high peaks of the White Mountains and sleeping in my old station wagon was the most fun. And, of those peaks, Mount Isolation was my favorite.
The day I’d planned to hike Isolation, I’d almost chickened out. In the valley where I’d spent the night, the day dawned gray and overcast; as my schedule was flexible, I considered whether it might be wiser to save the hike for another day. But, my legs were too eager to get going; I decided that I might as well head out.My ascent began through quiet, rain-soaked birch woods, where golden leaves were strewn all over the ground. I was alone in the wet woods as I focused on climbing higher, walking quickly to warm myself – and for the shear fun of exertion. I climbed through thick fog, feeling myself enveloped in mist, and then, just as I cleared treeline, I rose though the fog, too.
I found myself in paradise.
Below me, the day appeared undercast, and neighboring mountains rose through a sea of clouds. Above me, the sky was that gorgeous Windex blue of northern fall days. Isolation was adorned in all the brilliant colors of fall, and her Glen Boulder was now in view, perched on the edge of a shrub-covered false summit.I don’t know whether I can attempt to describe the elation I felt, the buoyancy of my heart. Just a few months before, still in bed with an undiagnosed illness and preparing for kidney surgery, I’d doubted whether I’d ever hike again. And yet, there I was, climbing alone toward the summit of a mountain of a range I’d long considered a home, even while I lived 1000 miles away. I didn’t want to blink for fear of missing a moment, and I couldn’t stop smiling.
When I reached the large, flat summit, I rested in solitude, enjoying the view of the Presidential Range across the valley. At least, I did until my solitude was interrupted by a couple of gregarious Canadian gray jays. Then, with good company, the day was truly perfect.“Companion in the Krumholtz” and my other felted works are available at wanderstruckstudio.storenvy.com.