Looking upward he adjusted the loaded backpack. The mountain rose majestic before him its pristine slopes green in the early sun. Tilting his cap he set off.
By mid-day slopes and dappled woodlands lay behind, the path ahead was steeper, rockier. The occasional hikers had vanished along with his mobile signal. A strange isolation seized him, fear nibbled. Was this wise? Should he wait, join a climbing party?
No, this was what he had wanted, alone, above the confusion. Rebelliously he consumed a sandwich and trudged on. He became increasingly conscious of his surroundings. The rocks were not barren, tiny plants grew. He was not alone for birds carolled in passing and rodents rustled from his path. This was their world always, but today he would partake.
Joyous ripples announced a stream, leaping towards the waiting valley, cool and sweet. He emptied his bottle replacing stale water. He felt a new spring in his step. On he walked, enclosing clouds bathing him in refreshing dew, longing to see the veiled view beneath. On till aching calves enforced rest, silence, eyes feasting in fog drenched vision.
Would he have the strength to get down? Soon he’d have no choice but sleep here, alone in the darkness. He rejected the voice not wanting to concede defeat. He must gain the summit. Stubbornly he rose and lumbered onward, his mind relaying pictures – his body found, relatives weeping at the funeral. He pushed them all away striking up a song to bolster his confidence. He had no voice, but here it didn’t matter, there was no one to hear. He belted out words revelling in freedom, the stones echoing in strange harmony.
He was close now. Light had almost departed but that must be it, the summit. Something gleamed – traces of snow! How strange to sit there in a T shirt, his body heated by exertion. It wouldn’t last that’s why he’d brought the sleeping bag. He rolled it out and exhausted lay down. It was not black, stars glimmered and the moon shone serenely as he slumbered.
He awoke to sunshine and aching muscles. Dazed he gazed in astonishment at visons he’d missed behind veiling clouds. Vistas opened, perspectives changed in a moment. Life resumed its proper perception. He knew he must return but as he ate the final sandwiches he knew nothing would be the same. The mountain had changed him.