On my way home from the pharmacy this afternoon, I caught a glimpse of the soft clouds making circles around Sutro Tower, the red-and-white beacon that marks Mt. Sutro, my happy hiking place of so many foggy mornings before my body gave way to Lyme. Without thinking, I retraced my old route and eventually found myself parking in the same old spot on the wide, brick-paved lane that leads to the trailhead. And in my espadrilles, I followed the siren call of the forest.
Habit propelled me into the woods with an energetic stride and the determination to conquer the mountain, but not ten paces in, I had to stop and catch my breath. Ok, so I can’t climb the mountain yet, but somehow, today, my legs and my will carried me nearly a mile around the ivy-tufted basin and back. My little jute flats were really no match for the patches of mud and the undulating rocky path, but I kept breathlessly stepping on, pausing often with wonderment as if I were experiencing this place for the first time. The cool air on my skin, the mushroomy scent of the forest floor and the herbaceousness of eucalyptus; the twittering of the birds, a rustling in the underbrush, the quiet creaking of the too-tall trees stretching in the breeze. And then something strange happened. I felt joy. A lightness of heart that I’ve not felt in many months. Freedom. I’m alive.
My legs advised me turn back sooner than I did but I kept pressing on, and finally, as the dirt trail once again became that brick-paved lane I turned for a wistful last look. I scolded myself—you’ll be back.
I’m back home on my sofa now and my legs feel as stiff as those old eucalyptus trunks, and I know there will be no forest for me tomorrow. But I’m grateful for this day, and I know that, whatever it takes, I will tackle that mountain soon.