Memories from the Mountains and why I must return.

As my first full day in Ruidoso, New Mexico drew to its middle, I found myself eating a honey crisp apple smeared in peanut butter as Megan, Parker, Uncle Eric, and I sat in a gondola lurching full tilt toward the peak of a mountain. Here I was, looking out through the paned windows of a decade old contraption that had lifted thousands of tourists to the same spot, still finding a way to make this breathtaking view my own memory.

Once out of the gondola, the kids and I ran to the edge of the lookout point, Uncle Eric (along with our rather heavy lunch cooler) in tow. I walked to the edge and marveled at the mountains before me. I had never seen one before this trip, but now they were all my brain could grasp as I stared beyond the horizon. While turning my head to make sure I got the full view, I noticed a higher peak just to the left us that looked like it could be part of the same piece of land we were on. I said to to my family, only half believing the probability of it actually happening, “I want to go up there”. My uncle looked up from the granola bar he was still munching on and simply said “then go”.

Then go. Two very simple words amounting to a very simple phrase that my brain was able to overcomplicate. I had never just gone, especially when it came to finding a trail that may or not be there, leading up to the top of a mountain that may or not be safe. But as I looked down at these words being said to me from a relaxed, green adirondack chair, I decided to act before I could think. Then go. Coming at me like a dare, the temptation to ignore or follow them whipping around me as fast as the icy wind that had followed us from the slopes below, I decided to listen. And so, I went.

With Megan and Parker by my side, we made the ten minute climb up a secret path to get to the point I had seen from hundreds of feet below. Although we all had had a long morning of skiing, my curiosity was burning through my exhaustion, igniting each slanted step I took to the top. My breath was going in and out at an accelerated rate, and the cold air was creating that metallic feeling in my chest, the kind of feeling that comes from going for a run at 8 p.m. in December. But I kept climbing, moving fast toward the top, almost there, expectation reaching further than my feet ever could, the tiny part of my brain tingling in the back hoping this all had been worth it, until finally, I had arrived.

I looked out at oceans. Giant waves, some rolling over, others triumphantly climbing towards the sun as if she were a lost lover they were hoping would return. The mountains and hills and valleys I saw before me were not what I had expected at all. I felt as if I was staring at a raging storm on the sea, forever frozen in time, creating a feeling of absolute wonder. From this high up, I could see the way the earth had chosen to connect itself, every piece a greater part of the whole that made up the land I saw before me. I thought that fleeting feeling of our mortality could only be pulled from us as we watched the tides leave the shore, but here I was, gazing at nothing but still earth as it lay under a cacophony of blues, and I felt that rare tinge in my chest, reminding me of my humanity in the most foolishly hopeful way.

Peace. I sat on the rocks that protruded from the earth, truly saw what was before me, and was overcome with peace. I felt immensely small, but still connected to it all. Even when I closed my eyes, I could see the mountains through their sounds. I heard the wind carving its way through rounded slopes to the northwest, for some reason, it reminded me of the sound of a bowl. (I wasn’t sure that made sense in the moment, and as I write it now, I still don’t think it does, but it was what I thought at the time and I feel as if I owe it to the mountains to stick with it.)

12,000 ft.

From the top of that mountain I felt adventurous, I felt content, I felt fulfilled, I felt sentimental, and I felt absolutely still.  There was a song in these hills, flowing from atop the peaks, cascading and crescendoing down the slopes, singing joyously into the never ending sky. I sat and listened to the song. It took me a moment to realize I was now a part of it. I had been given a verse to the infinte melody of this earth. I sat in silence, made myself as small as possible, and listened as the Sierra Blanca sang for me.

Eventually, Megan and Parker caught up with me and we were all able to marvel together at the landscape before us. I encouraged them to let out their barbaric yawp in complete Leaves of Grass fashion and the three of us stood together and howled until our lungs gave out. Realized or not, now they had contributed to the song as well.

After getting some rather memorable shots, the three of us said goodbye to our peak and we made the walk back to what we used to think was the best view we could get. Funny how perspectives change. It was humbling being able to talk to my younger cousins about how the view made them feel, but I will always cherish the moment I shared in solidarity with the mountains.

The rest of our trip went on, but nothing could quite compare to my experience that day. I know it is something I will carry with me like I carry my first memory of the ocean, or my passion for story telling. No matter how far I may go from Ruidoso, or even from my home here in Texas, I hope I never forget the melody of the Sierra Blanca and the wisdom given to me during our shared moment. Needless to say, Wednesday, January 3rd 2018, was a perfect day to Venture Out.

I want adventure in the Great Wide Somewhere

Parker lets out his barbaric yawp!

This was an accidental shot, but sometimes those are the most interesting Uncle Eric or Mountain Man? The Ellis family being very Sille Our final sunrise over Ruidoso We finally mastered the self timer

Always an adventure whenever Meg is around Megan and I agree this could be a North Face ad


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