Without slacking my pace I turned and headed back up the wash the way I had come. I was at least an hour out from the car and the sun would set before six. Twenty-five minutes later I arrived at the spot where I first said, “Just one more bend, I’ll just go around one more bend and see what’s up ahead. We wouldn’t want to turn back now, Self, when there might be a lake inlet just around the bend.”
It was Super Hike Sunday and I started my hike late, very late, after lunching with friends. Once I circumvented the white pothole pour-off via the mini-talus slopes, I set off at a good clip down the level wash that is Wire Grass Trail. I wanted to hike until I saw something beautiful, until I felt good, until I was winded, until I no longer felt fat from lunch and the many desserts I have comforted myself with this week.
I did see something beautiful. An arch. I interrupted my momentum only long enough to take a picture. More beauty. I wanted more. I began to feel good again. I never did get winded so I kept on, chasing the sunlight and then chasing the shadow, always, always aware of where the sun was on the horizon.
At 5:58 pm on my return trip I reached the slope where I first clocked the sun at 3:45 pm to gauge if I really had time to do the hike. That was the moment I realized I needed two headlamps. I know, I know, one should be enough, but I have been using my headlamp for early morning walks and I left it setting on the table when I shouldered my daypack; that daypack where the headlamp should -and usually does-reside. Knowing that it is still too early in the year to get much daylight after 4:00 pm, I thought to turn back near the beginning of the trailhead when I first realized my headlamp was home in the kitchen. But I also knew I carried a small flashlight tucked into the first aid kit.
6:03 pm said my cell phone when I arrived at the car. The sun was down, yet still remained the daylight. Whew! It’s not that I am afraid of the dark, I’m just afraid of feeling helpless, afraid of causing someone the bother of coming to find me. I am feeling fine. My toes are sore. My biceps ache from swinging my hiking poles, but I am not winded. It’s going to be a great spring for hiking! For putting one foot in front of the other; for not slackening my pace. How about you?