There’s a point at which you cross the threshold of day and night becomes inevitable. The weary hiker at this time begins to set up his tent, makes an evening meal and watches the sun paint the sky. The sun is nothing if not an artist and at first she paints with yellows, reds and oranges as though it’s not truly a goodbye, and then with darker blues and purples.By now the hiker is in his sleeping bag, insulated from the cold night and safe from the monsters of the mind that make themselves at home in the dark blanket of night. The hiker knows that night doesn’t play by the rules of the day, that even the normal shapes of the land and terrain change and a new, blurry, dark world comes to life:
Glowing eyes peering out from the hillside, a screech of a wildcat from a rocky outcropping, a rocky trail that weaves in and out of a riverbed so feverishly that the water is dried up and all that’s left is heavy sand and if you’re lucky a cairn or two to mark the way. A trail barely etched in the mountain, one side falling dangerously into an inky blackness.
At night getting lost or hurt is as real of a danger as the wild, stealth hunters who prowl these forests and hillsides. At night is when the hiker knows he’s no longer the most dangerous animal, he’s just a nearly blind, stumbling and almost hairless creature that must sleep, a creature who has little protection from the harsh world of the night.
I look longingly at a tent, the hiker inside surely sleeping peacefully, as my legs continue their rhythm of forward and upward progression. I’m not a hiker really, and I’m not one of the wild beasts of the night— I’m something altogether different and I move quietly through the night and up the mountain. For me the night is peace. It’s quiet. Pierced by howls and crackle-snaps—- what’s out there? I don’t know, but I am okay in the unknown, I’ve learned that’s where dreams are born. It’s a world I must explore, plus I have 20 more miles to go before the night overtakes me