Friday, June 15, 2018

Anthony's Nose

We hiked Anthony's Nose yesterday. Sort of.

It started as many of our climbs do. Up a short steep mountain. About forty five minutes and a mile and a half after the first step, the summit was reached, elevation and satisfaction gained. The Bear Mountain bridge, the Hudson River, the train trestle, the mountains across the way, all competed for our attention. Standing next to an American flag buffeted by the winds, staring out at the vast magnificence that lay maybe 800 feet below, beauty stretched across the horizon as far as the eye could see and the heart could absorb.

And then, after a few minutes of allowing this scene to wash over our senses, my son suggested that he, my wife and I complete a loop down from whence we came. It was, he informed us, the much straighter option and would bring us back to our car faster. 

So what if this was considered an "in and out" hike, where it was intended that one retrace the path up on the way down. So what if this alternate avenue of descent did not appear on most maps, nor was readily evident from our vantage point. So what if it was a neon sign flashing "do not go there." So what. 

We located a blue blaze, a marking on a rock, which suggested this path did indeed exist. And thus our great and terrible adventure began.

This was to be an hour and a half down what seemed, at least to me, not Anthony's Nose but his face. Not a half mile of well trod paths, but one continuing rock formation into the abyss. Not one giant step back into mankind, but only one small step after another by a man intent on remaining intact.

Actually it was less walking than sitting, trying to figure out the best angle to slide from here to there. Walking poles now near useless, more javelin than anything else, hurled from the top of a rock outcropping to its base, then picked up like large matchsticks, only to repeat the cycle again in mere seconds. Again and again. And again.

At each twist and every turn, surveying the landscape below, determining which crevice would serve as foot or arm rest to stop an unintended slide into oblivion. And upon completion of each mini disaster in waiting, yelling instructions to the one above on what to avoid in order to maintain maximum health.

Through it all, our son was as alive and happy as a descent into a hell of one's own choosing could possibly permit. Loving far too meek a word to describe his attachment to this moment. 

As for me, I couldn't understand why, despite all the rigor involved, the bottom seemed to be coming no closer, merely mocking me as I reached to soothe the next twinge in my back, my recurring thought of the Aleve that awaited at journey's end. Pain and exhilaration equal partners.

My son is an avid photographer. As we headed down, various viewing spots came to greet us, offering ever changing perspectives on the bridge and its companions. A train moved slowly along its tracks, allowing a chance to capture a magnificence that one could never truly know unless you understood what it took to reach this vantage point. Then coming eye to eye with the top of the bridge. Finally, finally reaching its belly and staring at the moving cars that earlier had seemed so insignificant in relation to their surroundings.

And so our trek concluded. All good things, and bad, must come to an end. As we headed to the car and I thanked God that I was still able to count all my limbs and teeth, my son uttered four words that sent a shiver down my back.

"Let's do it again."


Anonymous said...

Great. Loved the last line.


Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous.


Anonymous said...

Great adventure. Glad you are safe and sound.


Robert said...

OMG - I have never read anything you have written so rapidly, fearing you might be writing flat on your back or from the hospital!!!😳
You’re far healthier and fit than you think; than the rest of us and you should defininitely heed Richie’s advice and go for it - do it again!!!!


Anonymous said...

Sounds better than: "Are you alright?"--RE

Anonymous said...

The tougher the better - that is Richie's element. He is a monster on the mountain.

Anonymous said...

OMG! How are you feeling this morning? Maybe you don’t really know after taking Aleve.

Anonymous said...

you're just getting to be an old man!