Still Climbing

Inspired by Heidi Smith’s love of Nature and of hiking (see 9/16/14 post), I accepted my friend Judy Kendall’s invitation to go hiking yesterday. I’d planned to stay home and write a new blog post (about what, I wasn’t sure); but it was a clear, crisp, dazzlingly beautiful early-autumn Sunday here in Taos, NM, and Judy’s invitation was too tempting to turn down.

We decided on Williams Lake as our destination, which would be a first for me, but about the thirtieth time for Judy, who has lived in Taos for more than thirty years.

My first hike on Williams Lake Trail
My first hike on Williams Lake Trail

According to the website www.taostrails.com, “the Williams Lake Trail is arguably the most popular trail in the Taos Ski Valley. … The Forest Service claims that it is 2 miles to the lake from [the parking area] — it is actually 1.91 miles. The trail reaches its summit at 11,142 feet about a quarter-mile from the lake….” Sunset Magazine voted Williams Lake number one out of the “Top 45 hikes in the West.”

Not for the faint-of-heart or the short-of-breath, this hike (up and down) took Judy and me most of the afternoon because we were in no rush. We stopped frequently to catch our breath, swig some water, and take in the scenery.

Judy taking a break
Judy taking a break

For me, a newbie on this particular trail, it was a magical adventure. It brought back happy memories of countless afternoons spent playing in the woods behind our house when I was a child. It made me feel transported: These woods, I thought, could be just about anywhere in the world, at just about any time in history.

I felt buoyed by the timelessness and placelessness of the experience.

In a little under two hours, we made it to our final destination, the lake; and Judy rushed toward it, as if to embrace an old friend.

Williams Lake
Williams Lake

We settled down on a flat patch of ground overlooking the lake, with Wheeler Peak, New Mexico’s highest point, to our left and took the time to paint the scene in watercolors before meandering down the mountain again.

Painting Williams Lake
Painting Williams Lake

To be sure, I am not the first writer to find life-metaphors on mountain trails. Nevertheless, I’ll boldly add mine to the mix: The path is often strewn with obstructions – rocks and roots and broken tree limbs; the way is normally steep and crooked and daunting. But here and there, you’re dazzled by slanting sunlight; you’re uplifted by the birdsong and the majestic trees. You know that if you just keep climbing (“keep on keeping on”), you’ll reach your destination soon enough. And it will be beautiful.

Life's path
Life’s path

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