Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hiking for the New Year

We started hiking around 1pm, later than ideal given the early winter sunsets, but the mountains and blue skies beckoned.  Ten of us and a little chihuahua set off and after a three mile ascent, five of us remained and decided to continue further on another trail, second guessing ourselves as we assessed the setting sun.  The patches of snow and ice that we had to negotiate on the dark side of the mountain encouraged us to turn back before our goal and we stepped off the trail a few meters to see the view from the other side of the ridge.  The air was pristine and we could see for miles and miles.

As we returned to the trail juncture still 3 miles from the trailhead on the top of the mountain, a man approached us and asked if we had seen anyone walk that way.  We hadn't and he explained that his wife was missing and that she was carrying a baby.  Yes we had seen her earlier, carrying a baby on her back, pregent, and alone, but we had seen her take another trail direction.  His mother and brother were consoling another crying child nearby,  his expression was full of concern but calm in his need to stay fully focused.  We asked if we could help and he said yes.  We split up, covering several directions to look for her, agreeing to come back in half-an-hour.  

As we walked a new path, our voices called for a woman we had never met, thinking of the concern in the man's face at the possibility of losing his wife, baby, and unborn child, the sun setting more and more quickly on this national holiday.  Someone had been sent to call the ranger, but how easy would it be to reach them, to find her?  

We returned to the meeting place to find her there.  Her husband's face completely changed, unrecognizable with relief.  What do we have that we don't realize?

We all descended and arrived back at the cabin just after nightfall.  The cold and emotional strain of the day melted in several group games and singing songs.  Tomorrow to start the trails a little earlier.  

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