The sun has yet to climb Tiger Mountain, but the promise of a new day beckons. I can hear it in the birdsong that punctures the solitude of the forest, see it in the wisps of golden light that slip through the old growth trees like sand through my fingers on the beach. A blanket of mist also winds through the trees, chased by the light and warmth of the sun that climbs the side opposite of me.
My path, worn by many feet before me, seethes an earthy odor, a battle between rot and life. The cool, morning air laps my face, arms, and legs. I breathe it in deeply, satisfied and content. Every turn in the trail reveals more verdant life encroaching on the path as if to buffer me from the harsh reality of the forest, that relentless cycle of life played out on a grand, never-ending scale. Fallen trees decay giving sustenance to young trees and new plants. Insects feast on an animal carcass. The living things toil away against the inevitable.
Each step takes me higher. Each turn pulls me upward. The sun I cannot see taunts me as it races me to the top. Only my foot falls and determined breaths compete with the whimsical birds watching me from their hidden perches. I hear them call each other, warning of an interloper. I trundle onward, upward.
A clearing with its back to the sun reveals a lush forest still wrapped in the morning mist. A bunny hops gingerly along the fringes of the field nibbling on wild grass. Wildflowers limp under the dew still groggy from a night’s nap. A raven makes its presence known. The bunny startles and hops deeper into the tall grass.
I turn and continue my journey to the top, swallowed whole by the trees pointing the way. Each damp step leaves a mark on the path, but I know it will be swiped away soon by many more who will traipse along this mountain trail. The solitude engulfs me, pacifies me. I feel connected to something bigger, more significant.
The crest comes into view, glowing in the sunrise. My pace quickens, and I embrace the sun atop Tiger Mountain. It’s soft warmth has yet to turn to the glowering heat of late spring. The gilded view swamps my senses. The retreating mist slides down the mountain. Dark, aspen green with deciduous swirls drapes out before me. More birds rejoice in the new day. A wide smile cracks my otherwise solemn face. I breathe in deeply and take a seat to feel the sun warm my back and watch the world slowly come to life below me.