This was published in the Summer edition of Wisconsin Writers Association - Creative Wisconsin Magazine, Volume 5, Summer 2013. It appeared under the title Rhododendrons were in Bloom
Spring had returned to the high Himalaya, the way a bird settles down to nurture and warm the nest. Snow-melt punched and jabbed through the boulder-strewn Bhote Koshi River 1000 feet below my boots. I ascended the centuries old trail that had been stomped into the dusty slope in long swinging arcs. Sometimes, with a scamper over exposed root bundles or tumbles of stone. Rhododendrons were in bloom, whiffs of their honeyed bouquet wandered like the brushstrokes in a Monet landscape.
As I progressed upward through the friendly shade of the Himalayan pines, the wind chanted between the silvery blue needles, ohm… Sometimes the drooping condor-like branches would tease me with glimpses between the boughs, but as I passed above the pixie-wing foliage the fairytale scene transformed. I was immersed in a glistening panorama: huge, high, shimmering mountains swept across the horizon suspended in infinite blue.
My strong, graceful strides pleased me, but I wondered why they had appeared now. Nimble had never been in my fifty-nine-year-old playbook. I’d hiked around Wisconsin with a weighted backpack to prepare my desk-job legs and break-in new boots like all my other adventures. This was different. Inhalations were deliberate, of course, but my climbing rhythm remained unhurried and efficient, almost a dance. This was indeed the Himalaya, the historic trail to Mount Everest Base Camp and I had a promise to keep. I felt like I was flying.