I knew we were getting close. The air was harder to breathe and my legs were shaking with fatigue. We had been climbing for three hours. The switchbacks scissored up the mountain and the repetition was both soothing and exhausting. There was less vegetation at the top and it looked like a storm might be coming in. I wondered if we would make it to the top before it rained.
Both of my brothers were with me. They lived in Arizona, but this was a new trail for them too. There’s something special about each one of us carving our path up the mountain for the first time together.
The terrain in Arizona was unlike any I had hiked before. Cacti were everywhere and the dirt was orange and dry. We were climbing the last switchback, when we saw the trail start to level out. The top was in sight!
We had a 360 degree view of at the top. The mountains were on one side and flat desert encompassed the other half of our view. The contrast of the storm clouds next to the blue sky entertained us as we ate our lunch. A dusting of ladybugs covered almost every rock. They must have been hiding under the rocks, waiting for the sun to come out. Our time at the top was brief compared to the journey up and our returning journey down. Each place holds its own value, but the journey up is the one I carry with me, especially on those days when I think of turning around. I go back to the repetition of the switchbacks, both soothing and exhausting. We have what we need to go up, to get through, if we dig deep enough.