The trail that Mom and I ran on our last day in the desert was like a story told by a people puppy that had just broken into the Halloween candy stash. It was a collection of details that didn't have anything to do with each other, and didn't make a whole lot of sense when you put them together.
There's a reason that Mom and I don't like easy peasy trails as much as we do the badass ones, and it's not just because I like to brag. Mom doesn't turn around and talk to me as much when we're not in danger, and it's like we're on different adventures.
The mountains bulged roundly out of the ground like a pair of stretch pants. The air was dry, but a different dry than the sharpened and clean dry of the desert. This was a sticky, rustling, itchy dry.
"This sure is beautiful, isn't it, Mom?" I asked. I wasn't quite sure if it was beautiful, so I was hoping she'd tell me. These mountains didn't do all the inspiring gymnastics of the really tall mountains that blocked the desert. They were kind of nubby, and their only trick was to trip and fall right into the ocean with a little splash.
When Mom wasn’t hypnotized by the Bahama-colored lake, her eyes were fixed on the mountains, trying to puzzle out how someone as scared of heights as she is could still climb all the way to the top. Meanwhile, I chased critters over rocks and logs with the grace of a hurdler.
“What is the difference between rock climbing, and mountaineering, and hiking? Like, if you wanted to climb that mountain up there, you’d have to get up all that scree.” She pointed at one of the steep fangs, and the thick gums of rocks and sand at the bottom. “Well, you’ve got to do your research. People will post what approaches are loose or dangerous, and what routes are safest and so on.” “Well, what if you were on the right trail and you slip anyway?"
Mom hiked on all fours, grabbing the bigger rocks with her hands until she found one that stayed in place, and then stepping her back paw as high as it would reach, and then half-pushing herself up with her back legs while she pulled herself up with her front. Some of the mountain fell down the hill behind us with each step we took.
Since Mom was already off balance, my jig pulled her off the one leg she was standing on and she kicked the packpack of the lady crouched down to take a picture, and shouted a bad word, and then told the lady it was my fault that she'd ruined their picture.