The trail was new for him. He stayed at my side, wondering ahead only when he could see far enough to know there wasn’t any trouble. The hike up was like this. The dog, undisturbed by the cows, their bells echoing across and around the peaks, green studded with boulders. Whisper white clouds, against a steel blue sky, the air cleaned by the recent storms.
At the top, the shepherd dogs make friends with him. They play in the tall grass and alpine flowers. The tallest peak, just across a ridge, in-accessible because of its steepness, shrouded in clouds now. Not rain clouds, but ones that look unfriendly. The breeze is strong, cold. High summer, and the sweat from the exertion coming up makes me cold, gives me a chill. But the dog is fine. This is his element. This is his world, really.
I leave some struggles at the top, throw them to the mountain, surrender them to the wind. I sit on a rock and watch the dog explore the pasture. There is no one here, but the presence of others who have come on this pilgrimage is strong. I yell at the mountain. I yell at the wind. More of the woes of life released.
We eat and rest before heading down. This time, the dog is more sure of himself. The path he knows, he remembers, and he speeds ahead, then circles back to check on me, rub his nose against my leg, never forgetting that I’m there. The decent is always quicker, I tell him. The air at the bottom is thicker, and the sun finds its way to us again. I can’t see the high peak from here, but I know it’s there and will be there, it will always be there, it will never not be there. And the next time I see it, I’ll remember the day with my dog. Cautiously going up, but weightlessly coming down.