No, no, no, no, no, that can’t be right!!
When my eyes opened this morning, a clock reading 6:24 met heavy, sand-filled eyes; hard on the heels of disbelief came shock, anguish, crushing disappointment.
Barn Bluff is a solid half-hour away. The walk up the trail takes thirty to forty minutes. An hour-plus in total, and that’s not even counting the time it takes to dress, grab gear, put the dogs out if they need to go and then wait for them to do their business and bring them back in; ETA at the eastern overlook at 7:40 at best, with sunrise a calculated for 7:18…
It drives home the true meaning of the word “late.”
How could this have happened? The alarm was set; I check it at least twice before I let myself relax enough to fall asleep, so I know it was set. But if it went off, I didn’t hear it and neither did Jerry.
Despite that… despite knowing I would never make it in time… despite the facts staring me in the face… I still got up, threw clothes on, grabbed my gear and bolted out the door.
(No, speeding is not an option in those cases, however seldom the sheriff patrols the roads, for two reasons: It would not make up sufficient time to get me to the eastern overlook at sunrise; and that would be the one morning the sheriff would be on that specific country road.)
And along that country road, the mental litany: Why am I still going in? What point is this going to serve? There is no shortcut that will get me to the overlook on time. Does that make the rest of the year pointless?
I think I’m going to cry.
There are pathways on the Bluff other than the regular ones. The deepest-rutted are marked “Not an approved trail,” and are usually on or next to steep, rocky areas. The walk started at 7:04; by 7:11 I had left the regular trail and was hiking straight up the prairie-covered side of the Bluff… over loose, exposed rocks that turned under my feet as I sought with some desperation a way to link up to one of those unapproved trails I might possibly recognize.
What I found at 7:18, after a strenuous climb using a steadying hand on the grasses and stubby sumac, plus the tripod as a stabilizer, sometimes keeping myself from falling backward or tipping over by bare fractions of inches, was the regular trail that ran the topline of the ridge about three or four minutes from the overlook. It was a hellaciously difficult climb, one I never, never, never want to do again. Ever.
But I was taking pictures by 7:23; and since the sun takes about three minutes and forty seconds to completely clear the horizon, I was there awfully close to sunrise.
Close enough for it to count, leaving my streak unbroken. I have been tested, but not found wanting, and stood there just allowing myself to feel the triumph flooding through my body. I started a half-hour walk at 7:04 and I was only five minutes late for sunrise!
So what’s the moral of the story? What’s the takeaway, the golden nugget?
Courage in adversity will be rewarded. If something is important enough, you will find a way to manage it. Don’t stop chasing what you desire just because there are a couple of obstacles in your way. Listen to intuition; it’ll show you the route you need if you’re just paying attention.
And look who I found on the way up!