These are the mountains I got to look at (gasp at) after hiking 12 miles uphill, uphill, uphill on the Appalachian Trail yesterday. I sat on a little rock ledge with my friends and we laughed about stupid things, but then the silence was comfortable so it sat with us for a minute and we just looked.
The past three days were affirming and sometimes tough and full of real joy. I loved the quieter parts of hiking — peeling off my socks and knowing I earned my blisters, stirring pasta while the boys hung the tarp, hushed moments in the morning repacking and folding the condensation-soaked tent. And the big moments, too — the summits of two mountains, the clouds hugging the valleys, sharing flasks of whiskey on top of a fire tower after sunset, watching Saturn and Mars and stars and lightning strikes share the same sky, coming to the end and feeling like, yes, I did it, I did it.