I was six hours on a mountain yesterday and most of those six were spent in a cloud so that despite our constant movement it sometimes felt we were stationary, running in place within the same cloud bubble.
This was the longest mountain outing for me since my heart surgery six months ago.
I saw my cardiologist last week and he gave me full renewal of my license to kill (myself) in the manner I choose, as opposed to heart failure, an option which I did not select.
On the mountain we knew where we were about 90% of the time, though sometimes triangulation of our three opinions were required. I would not call the other 10% dicey, exactly. But I will note that the dogs, all five: Curzon Eleanor, Hyde, Van, and Zhia, took turns crying at the prospect of descending the rocky trailless terrain. The dogs say, we can do it, but we don’t have to like it. I was glad to have hands and ski poles.
With us was my friends’ brother-in-law visiting from out of state. On the summit I remarked to him that it was shame we were so socked in because the view is spectacular in every direction. He said he preferred not seeing the view as it also allowed him to ignore what else we had told him: that the sides of the mountain dropped off precipitously in every direction.
My cardiologist had been out of the office. Vacation? I asked. No, he said, Family. He found amusing the fact that my atrial fibrillation episode in the high mountains resulted in a helicopter evacuation last fall. In fact it was this drama that had moved him to recommend the surgery. His family lives in Poland. When I mentioned that many of the very best Himalayan climbers, winter specialists, were Polish, he replied, Of course, but they are all dead. Not all, I said. His father was a friend of Wanda Rutkiewicz, lost on Kanchenjunga in 1992.
You know that feeling that you have when you’re sitting in a parked car and the car next to you begins to back up and for a second or two you thinking that it’s you moving forward? It was little like that.
First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain then there is. So said Donovan.
The rain was constant but very light, sometimes the word falling would be an exaggeration. So, yes, we were wet. But no wind, a blessing, right? From the summit I could almost see the path that leads back to my stronger, younger self.