Continuing Out Of The Blue from last week:
I dozed, aware of all the sounds around and fragments of bliss seeping through my bloodstream. The sun began to tilt to the right, and I stretched luxuriously on my fragrant mossy bed knowing that I should continue my walk uphill, or else return the way that I came. Not wishing to follow the same path, I felt that I could continue upwards in order to go down on a new route. Dressing languidly (and wondering at what had conspired to shed my clothes) I set out. But this time feeling a trickle of fear at the thought of bears coming out of hibernation and the instinctive path into the unknown.
By 15:30 the sun had lost a lot of it’s earlier intensity. The shadows in the dense forest stretched long and hazily shifting across my path, the forest canopy filtering the strong sunlight and plunging me into an ethereal half world once more. The birds still, the only sounds the crunch of the snow under my boots, the beat of my heart forced into the rhythm of the high altitude, and the feeling that I was being observed. Fifteen minutes earlier I’d gratefully seen a signpost, but in the colder air the snow’s texture had turned crisper and more abrasive as I rose steadily to the mountain top that never wished to reveal herself fully.
Branches snapped in a flurry to my far right, with hackles raised and camera ready to take my last photo, I stepped-up my pace. A huge capercaillie, the size of a turkey clumsily shrieked into the blue-black reaches of the pine forest like an enraged diva. I erased my fear of a grisly death in the clutches of a starving bear with a smile, but replaced it with the deep knowledge that I was feeling apprehensive about the absence of a track.
Continuing the dialogue with myself that had begun in the sun-drenched solitude of the lower slopes, I coaxed myself forwards. The forest receded, and a snowy escarpment revealed itself in a series of steep rises, each achingly painted in tints of powder blue, a myriad of shades of blue-white, periwinkle and ultramarine.
Zealously sure that I had to go up in order to go down, I reluctantly forged on. Feeling that the experience of trusting in my instinct was teaching me a powerful lesson about life – the path that I had followed earlier although full of bright sunlight and easy charm had recently taken a turn for the worse. As my step faltered, so did my faith. The question that I again repeatedly posed, was either to return through the grim forest and trace my steps upon the path that I had made, or to trust in myself and continue upwards? Opting to press-on, my soaking boots penetrated the frozen crust of ice like caramel on a crème brûlée with half my leg plunging into the luxurious snow.
The next low escarpment revealed fields of snow blasted into furrows by the breath of winter. My fear of change and exertion turned into wonder as I began to grasp the startling power of the mountain, and to couple my own path in life into the lessons that were being learnt. I reached my summit, found a signpost pointing to the downhill slopes and took this photo: