Clomp. Clomp. Clomp. My boots hit the icy ground with thuds that shook my body. “How long have we been hiking?’ I leaned back to ask Brian. I barely turned my head when all of a sudden the darkness surrounding me erupted into pinks, purples, and oranges. I nearly toppled over from the beauty of the sunrise peeking up around us. The valley we had descended upon, for a moment, looked like another planet. The dewy grass tinged with orange made it seem as if the blades were on fire.
We had been hiking for a few hours in pure darkness aside from our headlamps casting a tunnel view on the path ahead of us. I wondered what exactly pushed us out of our beds at 2am and dragged us onto a cold dark trail. Was it the fame factor? To be able to say we did it? Was it for exercise? Was it a love for the mountain? Was it the camaraderie? I like to believe the first three are the most likely reasons OTHER PEOPLE climb a huge mountain…. But not Brian and I. We are cut from a different cloth.
I could hear Brian’s breath, smooth and silky in the crisp morning air. Neither of us said a word because the silence communicated and documented every detail with such greater accuracy. I once read that the true test of friends is in the silent moments where no words are needed. Brian and I have that mastered.
I fumbled around for my camera and started snapping away. A group of hikers had congregated in the area, taking in the beauty and preparing for the journey ahead. We chatted but didn’t wait long to throw our packs back on and start on the trail.
One of my greatest loves of hiking is in the stories. As we gradually climbed higher and higher, Brian and I shared childhood memories, contemplated life, and debated the best live bands. We talked about family, friends, and times we wished the other had been around. The time slipped away and we quickly found ourselves within a few miles of the summit.
I guess this is where things got interesting for me. We had hiked for hours in mountain bliss and all of a sudden I was gripping the side of a mountain face and tiptoeing through crevasses that seemed about as sturdy as cardboard. My heart raced a little faster with each step and sweat poured down my face. The backpack that I so carefully packed that morning felt like I magnet pulling me away from the mountain — and towards the free fall of space to the side of me. My mind pondered my options.
a. Turn around and go back. Wait for Brian in the boulder field.
b. Dial 911.
c. Morph into a girl version of Spiderman and spidey my way to the top.
Things weren’t looking good. And maybe it takes things not looking good for life to hit you with an epic lesson. Life’s epic lesson on this particular day begin with a sound…
Wait a second, I thought. That can’t be right. I loosened my grip on the wall of rock I was clinging to and stared ahead of me.
This time the sound was louder….And… THE SMELL. Rotten oatmeal mixed with power bars marinated in Guiness and mayonnaise.
That’s when it hit me. The orchestra of sound bouncing off the national park mountain walls was my brother. Farting.
“UH OH!” Brian shouted. “Looks like I have a few rocky mountain bad breath barking spiders in my backpack!” His laugh was infectious. All of a sudden I was transported to the cabin – telling jokes and hitting pinatas around the fire.
“Who does that guy think he is? A frickin mountain goat?” An equally sweaty, clinging for life hiker called out. His friend rolled his eyes and muttered “Show off”. The two shimmied their way alongside the path, looking like trapezee artisits at a circus.
“That’s my brother actually!” I yelled back. “And he is a frickin mountain goat” I said with a smile.
With that I loosened my grip on the wall of rock….
We made it to the top. With a few more rocky mountain bad breath barking spiders jumping around in Brian’s backpack.
Looking back it makes me think… Sometimes you need life to throw a big fart at you to make you loosen your grip and start living and laughing a little more.
Thankfully I have Brian around to help me with that.