Hiking alone

20121213-224008.jpg The Turtle Rock trail is rated easy. It's a short drive from Laramie, and it's just crazy I hadn't hiked until this week. It was a Wednesday. It was finals week, and I didn't see a single other soul on the trail. 20121213-223925.jpg In snow, it isn't always easy to see the trail. But I was thankful for the boot and dog prints of the many hikers before me. I pretended I was a tracker when the wind had blown all but the faintest indentation away.

There were rabbit and mouse and bird prints. I only heard one strange bird call, but the bird itself was hidden in a pine. So hidden and so insistent, I thought it must be a hungry nestling--but who hatches chicks in winter?

I used to be terrified to go places alone. Restaurants, movies, parks, new towns. I'm not as worried, now. It was never so sudden as a gasp, but a slow letting in of air, of space opening a little, then a little. 20121213-225057.jpg There was a moment when the sun ducked behind the turtle herself and I thought, I need to hurry. But a moment later the bright slant and long shadows were back. That's the thing about panic.