Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out. My left shoulder and right foot bound forward together, clamoring uphill. The muscles of my back twist with the movement of my hips. I continue upward. My pace slows and my breath quickens. The rocks guide my movements and connect my feet to the earth as the sky darkens and the wind sharpens. Still, I continue skyward. I see the puddles form and, like a bird searching for nourishment, dive. As the water trickles down my skin I feel no difference between sweat and rain. Smiling, I turn my attention to the ever distant peak. Head down once more, my pace slows to a walk. Wind biting, rain stinging, and thunder crackling, I continue. Through playful puddles and rough rocks I march until I raise my head up and see.
I am standing on top of the world. Above the clouds. Above the cities. Above the trees. I sit. The rains stop as the clouds open and the sun peaks through, showing the beauty beyond. Thousands of peaks waiting in the distance, with a dirt path sliding through them all. Looking around, I realize that I am alone, but not really. The trees wave with the remnants of the wind as I wave back. I whoop and holler for no reason but joy. I look down again, at the solitary trail connecting the voluminous mountain pass. Then I look back, at the trail I have come from. My legs urge me to go home, to end the misery, and I begin on the path back home. But only for a moment. I stop. No reason. I just stop. I turn around and continue towards the trails into the heart of the mountains. Breathe in. Breathe out. In. Out.