|A final look back after our morning adventures|
The predawn air was warm, pitch black and slightly damp. We turned on the flashlight to see the trail was flat, straight and wide, more like a dirt road than a hiking trail but we couldn't see anything beyond the first few feet. Stars draped all around us, including the low hung big dipper, and the dusty milky way stretched out above eastern sky.
We set off cheerfully, though my heart raced against the darkness. It pressed onto us from all sides, threatened to trip, stumble or hurt us with its invisible yet manipulative fingers.
|sliver of moon|
"I am glad we both got our own lights."
Our chatty banter broke the grip of fear and stillness. Soon we were onto real trials, with lose rocks under feet and tall bushes flanking either side. We became tentative, touching the ground with our feet a few times before stepping, talking less though we hate submitting to the silence even more. But we soon had something to talk about, as the only way forward -- a few huge rocks down to a hard right then twisting left into a path that may exist beyond shadowy shapes, which for the moment had defied our puny lights.
I ventured left where it was higher and brighter, but "it is too grassy! So it isn't a path." decided the boyscout, and he was right. This was a well groomed trail according to some helpful hikers I've consulted at work, so we tentatively walked toward the dark shapes again, but quickly turned back as it was "too spooky". We rest for another minute before deciding to give it a third try. It was a charm, as once we got close enough, we saw a small but clear path beyond the overgrown plant looking oppressive and larger earlier, and just a few steps ahead sat a well groomed trail leading upwards.
The darkness would not relent. Quick, furry(, we assumed), and dark figures zoomed pass our feet now and again, causing a rustle as if from a soft breeze. We told ourselves that must have been a cute bunny. Once, we came to a mouse sitting in the center of the path staring at us, its ears larger than normal, and eyes friendly rather than beady. "Maybe that was Despereaux, the mouse that is different!"
A sliver of moon hang just above the plateau in mid mountain, sparkling like platinum set against velvety cushions. In the black backdrop, even the shadowy part of the moon shone in dim silvery hue, forming a circle of shadow and light.
With every elevation rise, stars blinked a little less, a little more slowly, seeming to fight off sleep. Pulling back their flashing lights, they lingered in softer hues as we ascend quickly towards the peak.
|Just before sunrise|
Half a mile from the peak, we could see the city lights below.
"Wow, I have never seen a sight like this! Not even on an airplane. "
"The lights are so bright and seems so close!"
"Yeah and it's so much better when you climbed up (to see it) yourself!"
Another hiker on his way down informed us we were "7 minutes away". Looking back at the eastern peaks, we saw they have turned almost completely red. We nearly jogged up the remaining trail, forgetting sore feet, sharp rocks and tired legs for the moment. We arrived on top to see a viewing telescope which stole the attention of the birthday boy. He turned it this way and that, with light growing more abundant, exclaimed: "I can see our car!"