They had planned to spend the weekend away from it all. Hotel room booked, vehicle full of gas. They arrived as planned, after a slightly impromptu stop at the Sixteenth Street Mall in Denver. They almost passed it up, because she hates crowds, and Black Friday was sure to mete out the worst. But there were no crowds, only deals, and she took a couple stores up on them.
Then on up into the mountains. Grabbed a bottle (or two) of wine, and hit the hotel. She didn't mean to ruin the party, but she could NOT keep her eyes open. She crashed way too early, and slept for over 12 hours. But the next day, after they pulled themselves out of bed after a very-enjoyable sleeping-in fest, they ate a delicious breakfast, gambled a little, and enjoyed the pool and hot tub on the roof, thirty-four stories up.
But then it was cut short. Something came up and they had to return home. So the next day, though they'd planned not to return until much later, they partook in some of her favorite activities. Wrapped in blankets and flannel, hot mugs of coffee cupped in their hands, they chatted (and got caught up on some reality TV). They decorated the house for Christmas. They took a hike.
The plan was to climb a local mountain by way of a well-established trail. They caught the trail just up from her house and passed first through the neighborhood, then above the neighborhood. Then, when the trail forked, took the left one up what looked like might have been an old service road. It didn't lead them far, and didn't connect with the trail she was familiar with.
Let's turn around, she said.
Let's go up, he said.
He started to climb up the mountain, hanging onto tree branches and roots and the occasional sturdy rock. And though she called him crazy multiple times, she kept right on his heels. Occasionally it was treacherous, but more often that not it was just steep. The trees seemed to have let out tendrils of roots at every place they needed them. Sometimes she had to grab one and lean out, moving her hands along the root and her feet along the steep-graded ground, to move up. Sometimes she "threw herself up the hill" (as he said). Sometimes the loose gravel made her step-taking a little nerve-wracking. But mostly she was recreating moves she'd done a thousand times (granted, usually on solid rock, not a scree slope up a mountain) partaking in the partnership she loves - using nature itself to move along its swells and surges that happened eons ago when mountains went through their upheaval.
They passed a narrow gully at one point, and he pointed at it.
We can go back down that way, he said.
I don't think so, she responded.
Well, how else are we going to get down? he asked.
The trail, she responded.
They made it to the top. Panting, but energized. They'd just scrambled up the side of the mountain. And it was a lot of fun. Way more fun than the trail.
I'd do that again in a heartbeat, she said.
And not just because it was fun, but because the best part was that he'd initiated the ascent.