just past sunrise I leave the parking area.
small loose rocks crunch beneath my boots.
my legs brush against the tall grass.
trail turns up the mountain at the fork.
small pebbles give way to small rocks
give way to little boulders
give way to big boulders
give way to near vertical rock faces.
I carefully search for footholds and finger holds
as I climb toward the top.
past scrub brush inching upward
I follow red blazes painted on the rock face.
hand over hand I reach the pinnacle
climb out onto a ledge and sit
dangling my legs over the edge.
a cold breeze swishes past.
trees sway in the valley below.
clouds hug the peaks along the distant horizon.
after an hour or so I scramble down the mountain
just in time to see the sunset.

I wake with the rising sun
and build a fire in the open pit.
I warm by the blaze,
heat water for coffee and oatmeal.
I trek down the blue trail to an ice cold spring
to fill water bottles.
a doe wanders down to the stream.
I sit quietly and watch until she walks away.
I break camp and hit the trail;
twelve miles today along the ridge;
twenty-eight-pound pack;
destination green bells bald.
mountain laurel lines the trail.
the only sounds are my boots tracking
sierra cup clanging on a pack hook,
rhythmic breathing,
a breeze in the trees.
I break out the forest into the clear,
hoist down the pack and take a
long drink of lukewarm water.
I take off my boots and socks
and enjoy the grass on the bald.

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