Take a Hike
Behind our motel room the Merced roars over rocks sounding as if you are in constant danger of being swept from your room. Our earlier disagreement has us clinging to the edges of the queen bed, not even seeking each other’s warmth despite the malfunctioning air conditioner pouring artic frost on us.
With morning’s light, the river still roaring, we set out to meet our friends for breakfast before returning to Yosemite for a second and last day of hiking.
Bleary-eyed, I eat pancakes and bacon, soaking the bacon in the maple syrup, which you eye with disgust. “Sweet and savory should never mix.” I guzzle coffee, needing the jump-start. Estelle talks as if her life depends on it. After a while, she’s like a whining gnat.
We do a car tour of areas of the park we haven’t seen before settling on a trail to hike. I am sulking, moments from a tantrum. I am the broken wheel in this venture and know I’m behaving badly, but pride is a fearsome companion, and I take its hand with a determined thrust of my jaw.
The hike isn’t arduous, not until the steep downhill when it becomes obvious that we have misjudged time, and darkness descends with ferocious vigor.
A hiker with a flashlight passes by. “There was a bear back there.”
I swallow and try to keep up with him and his light. We have no flashlight. We are unprepared for this trek down a steep mountain where we could easily go off the edge in the dark. How stupid of us!
You grip my hand. Estelle and Leo move closer as we try to keep up with the flashlight.
“Do you mind if we stick with you?” Estelle calls out to the hiker.
He turns. “Damn, you all don’t have light?”
“No,” Estelle says.
“Sure, but keep up. I got to get on the road to The City.”
My foot slips on loose rocks, but you hold my hand, keep me upright. Finally, we make it to the parking lot, thank the San Francisco-bound hiker. We sip water, each lost in thoughts we don’t share, maybe of a danger, imagined or real. You touch my cheek with the tips of your fingers, softly, before kissing me. We make up and have not been eaten by bears nor fallen off the side of the mountain. This counts as a good day.
Sascha Darlington 4/29/2018