I chose to spend the beginning of my 33rd revolution around the sun hiking Mt. Davis, Pennsylvania’s tallest natural point. It was chilly and foggy, and we were alone on the trail for most of the 7 miles we hiked. I thought a little about my goals and plans for the coming year, but mostly I inhaled the smell of ferns and fall, ran my fingers along the mossy rocks, and felt the simple joy of being present.
Mt. Davis isn’t much of a summit—it’s really just a large rock on top of a mountain ridge. Still, I liked the symbolism of starting my year up high. There’s a rickety-looking observation tower, but the fog had settled so thick on the ridge I could barely see the trees beneath me. The future is obscure like that, too. But we march on, seeing only a few feet in front of us at a time, and we make it to the end, whatever that might be.
Jaina is a country dog at heart, I think. She took the lead on the trail, looking back every so often to confirm we were still lagging behind her, slow on our two feet. We descended the ridge past springs and gentle waterfalls, tumbles of rocks sometimes making the trail and sometimes blocking the way.
We hiked past (and over) dozens of mosses and lichens, tiny fungi and large fungi, a microcosm of the forest around us. A mossy kingdom, we the invaders. Everything, I knew, had a name, but I did not know them. I knew only their softness, the springiness, the tiny red flowers stretching out from green beds. Touch is the language we all speak.