I took sips of my lukewarm coffee as my sleepy eyes struggled to focus on the road. It doesn’t matter what time you wake up in the morning, if it’s still totally dark outside…it still feels like the middle of the night.
As I pulled into the empty parking space, with half of my coffee still left in the cup, I hesitated for a moment. I lacked the energy and silently debated chugging the rest of it. I looked up and saw my sister’s white pickup truck parked ahead, I figured the rest of my caffeinated drink could wait until I returned.
“Hey Mel,” I greeted her as I stepped out of my car.
“Hey Al,” she replied, walking towards me while another woman jogged past us, with her headlamp beams bopping up and down with her pace.
Together, we walked away from the main road along the outskirt of South Mountain and began heading for the dirt trail along the side of the neighborhood.
We didn’t make it far when we came up upon the sign. It read:
Trail Construction in Progress
Do Not Enter
Beyond this sign, laid out a wide dirt trail heading towards the base of the mountain.
“Do we take it?” Mel asked.
I stood there, not really knowing what to say. Seeing this sign was not part of the plan.
“Fuck it…. let’s just see where it goes.” Mel answered to herself.
“If it gets to look shady, then we’ll turn around.” We both agreed.
As we defyingly walked forward, away from the streetlights, I stretched the elastic band of my headlamp across my forehead. Along the desert floor lays gravelly pebbles and low lying shrubs where birds and desert rats take shelter from stalking predators of coyotes and rattlesnakes.
The further back we hiked away the darker it became. Every so often I purposely turned my head to the right and then left, to flash the light on the world around me. It felt as if we were being watched in the darkness.
As the trail began to climb up, caution tape tied between two green trunked palo verde trees awkardly shined in our light. As if trying to preserve a crime scene, the trail makers attempted to hold back hikers in this filmsy attempt of a block.
We naturally came to a stop and shined our lights along the rest of the trail. A clear and steady path laid out before us.
“Let’s just keep going.” Mel suggested as she stepped over the knee-high wall.
Hesitant for a moment, I shrugged my shoulders and followed her lead. “What’s the worst that can happen?” I thought as I stepped over.
This route led into a small canyon area. The mountain ridges began closing in with the canyon’s walls rising tall around us. Feeling like sheep being herded into a single path line inside the mountain ravine.
The view of the sky above now narrowed, with only the bright full moon hanging above.
This is what it means to feel alive. Images of coyotes running around the wide desert under the glow of this moon stealthy hunting for prey flowed through my mind. And now, for a moment, I was one with them.
The trail abruptly came to a stop, only about 100 feet away from the top of the ridgeline.
The construction crew creating the trails, had their tossed rakes and shovels along the side of this stopping point.
As we gazed up towards the ridgeline that was so close, we noticed a lightly formed carved path, only about the width of a single footstep leading up towards the top.
We didn’t come this close to turn around now, and with that Mel began following the path. As she reached the top, she proclaimed, “It meets up with it!”
We had assumed this new trail would connect to another established trail and now here was the proof that our assumptions were correct.
I followed the faint path up towards the top, where the sky opened back up. Only this time, the glow forming along the horizon, shined like a candle lit in a dark room.
On one side, the bright full moon silently hangs in the sky. The other side, soon to overtake the dark is a firy orange ball colorfoully and vibrantly making it’s appearance.For those few minutes, we were walking right in between those two worlds of night and day. Soaking in the energy from both.
As we walked along, now heading in the direction of the glow, watching the sleepy and still desert awake with the growing light. The sluggish birds awake from their nests and begin greeting the day with their sweet songs. Every so often one of the birds fluttered from branch to branch, getting in their morning wing stretch, before taking on the day. The calm wildflowers that only a few minutes ago looked grey under the moonlight…now shined their colorful pedals from the sun’s glow.
Even butterflies are awakened at this moment, and began fluttering from flower to flower, looking for their breakfast.
Shadows now begin appearing darker, as the light grows.
And my sleepy eyes are now fully awakened and wide appreciating this daily scene of real life.