There are days like today. I arrived in a cloud of dust at the Tenderfoot trail head, bound to see how far I could get. There were two cars at the trail head. Two cars, I fumed. Then I had to laugh. I am spoiled. What would it be like to have parking lots completely filled, two hundred people on the trail? Anywhere else, an easy hike like this would be overflowing.
I mean, look:
Where else can you hike to a place like this in four miles and only see four people? (Don't tell anybody!)
I pushed on to the pass. There was one snow field to cross, and some would have found it sketchy. You fall, you roll a long way. Determination carried me over. Dollar Lake, about a quarter mile off trail, was wonderfully quiet (though scarily low for this early).
I am starting on my seventh year of living in the same town. After this year it will be the longest I have lived anywhere since I was 17. I used to hate the idea of being stuck somewhere. Wouldn't it be boring? Wouldn't I be boring? Wasn't the point to carpe the diem?
And yet. I am less and less concerned with big goals, with proving anything, with career aspirations. At my mid-year review, my supervisor asked me what my next step was. "Um," I floundered. I know the right answer is a higher grade level, more responsibility, but all I could think was: more desk time, less flexibility, a bigger city. It sounded like a jail sentence. I know that is what people are supposed to want, but I don't. In fact I'd be happy going back to being a wilderness ranger, if I could. That won't pay the bills, though.
I glissaded down the snowfield enroute to the trailhead. For years I moved every six months, then every few years, always thinking I was going to a better place than the one I left. I was good at leaving, good at goodbye. But after six years, I may have found the place I am not going to leave. The last place. It's a good feeling.