Monday, February 11, 2008

The Lollipop Trail, by Kat Magendie

“It’s almost eight miles, Kat,” he says. The morning is chilly, but the sky is a deep blue, too blue to be atmosphere and must be instead something tangible, touchable, bending in at the pressure of my hands. I hear the bold creek rushing. I shoulder my pack and say, “Let’s do it.” The trail lollipops through the woods—meaning, we start out and end on the “handle” of the lollipop, and make our way around the outside of the “sucker” part. He knows the pain will come. I do, too.

We follow the creek a while, then begin the steep incline. We munch nuts and raisins, and drink enough water. It’s silent save for our breaths. At the end of the steepest climb, my right leg shouts a warning; I ignore it, move on. We round the top of the lollipop and make our way down. The terrain is rougher—the trail narrows, we step over slippery rock, climb over a giant fallen limb laden with green moss. The pain in my right leg is expanding across my lower back and to my left leg, fiery. We come to an ancient tree that reaches forever into the sky, it’s trunk as wide as Texas, and there’s a hollowed out space that I slip into. I stand inside its walls, and make up a story about a woman who hides in a tree so no one can find her, until she wants them to. I reluctantly step out of sanctuary.

Finally, a sign reads: .8 miles to the trailhead. It’s been hours and we’re ready for the wine and cheese we packed. The pain screams loud now. I hold my head high, pretending, so Roger won’t know I’m hurting this bad. But, by time we get to the trailhead, I can no longer hide it; I’m limping, and my lips are pulled in a grimace. It’s another “lil’ piece” before we make it to the bridge that leads back to our car, and by then my limp is much more pronounced, my lips pressed, my teeth gritted. But I don’t care; I’m exhilarated. I hiked the entire lollipop, and it was sweet! Once we're in the car, I turn to Roger, my grimace turned to a grin, the pain shrugged off; the beauty of the day not. I say, “When can we do it again?” Roger just shakes his head and laughs. I laugh, too. No regrets, only gratitude for strength, tenacity, and the beauty of the day.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Bravo, friend. Pushing through the pain is a reward unto itself.

Nannette Croce said...

Yes, I guess when there's nuttin' you can do about it anyway, you may as well work around it, right?

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