Valley of in between

The campfire embers were still smoking, this would be the first time since she left the shore that she saw signs of human life. With her curiosity in tow, she followed along the pattern of footprints that circled the abandoned campsite, to see where they might lead.

The view from this vantage point was incredible. The grassy meadow below was bordered by pillars of pine trees, directing her sight further away from the place she had left behind. She felt a comfort in knowing there were fellow travelers along her journey, it was the boost she needed to gather her gear and follow the remaining path of familiar footprints. Who could they be, what brought them here, and where was their journey headed? All those questions added to the excitement of continuing this trek into the wilderness, wondering whether she would get to meet them today or somewhere down the trail.

Descending the back side of the hill became a rocky challenge, making it more difficult to follow any clear path of footprints. She finally let go of trying to follow another’s trail, and let her intuition design a better way to safely navigate her way down the slope.

She heard the rumbling first, then strobes of lightning flashed in the distance. Boom! The cannons of thunder rattled her to a halt. She remembered packing a poncho, and began to examine the rest of her gear to see what she could use to make some sort of cover. With a walking stick, poncho, and a tripod chair, she made a fort any five-year old would be proud of. This would be enough to keep her protected from the impending deluge.

Pellets of hail torpedoed her poncho fort with rhythmic beats of a percussion ensemble rehearsal. She watched flecks of dirt sprout around her, as the ground was dimpled by raindrops, then quickly grabbed her canteen to fill it with any moisture it might catch. This wet reprieve settled her mind for now, and would hopefully wash away any doubts or feelings of defeat with her lack of progress made on the trail today. The rain had always been her most accommodating writing companion, so since she was fort bound, she pulled out her pen and notepad to write her account of the days adventure. Expressing her excitement encountering evidence of fellow travelers, the decision to follow her own trail, and all the lessons from the landscape that settled her into this place for the night. One day into her adventure, she found herself exhilarated and exhausted recounting the day’s experience.

The silence after the storm stretched into the dawn, as the ridge line gradually came into focus with the sun sneaking up behind it. Stepping out from under the fort, the only sound she heard was the earth sloshing beneath her feet, a reminder of her solitude, while the slightest rustling in the brush told her she wasn’t alone. The day’s yawn of awakening began its call to rise with birdsong, taking her back to a distant memory she couldn’t quite recall.

Her slow dance continued down the rugged crevice, when without notice, the rock her foot was anchored against gave way, twisting her ankle to the right, causing her to lurch to the left, stumbling and bumbling downward like a tumbleweed in the wind. With outstretched arms, she saw her chance to land against a large boulder that waited for her impression at the base of the craggy hill. Upright and intact, she was able to catch her balance against the rock, exhaling her relief, Thank you for catching me!

Setting her pack down, she considered taking a moment to set herself down, and map out a plan, but she couldn’t garner the effort to be still. Having made her way down in one piece, she took a moment of pause to look up at how far she had traveled.

With a new perspective in place, she peered into the valley of in between. With no clear path to guide her, she gazed at the undefined space between the woman she left as yesterday, to becoming the woman this venture challenged her to be.