It is a special gift to take a hike with a friend who walks the same pace and loves the mountains like you and is comfortable sharing a 24 square foot tent. Even if you only get to hike together once a decade. Maybe especially if that trip only comes around once a decade.
My friend Aaren flew across the country to venture up into the Olympics with me, our first joint trip since we met on the Continental Divide Trail in 2007. We were a bit early for the high country, but it felt less like we were forcing an itinerary and more like we were just stepping over the edge and watching summer emerge.
Within a few weeks of both our fortieth birthdays, it felt fabulous to mark a new decade by walking 40-odd miles and fording a creek raging with the spring melt that challenged us to be both strong and smart. To spend a day and a half without seeing another soul. And to take a whole day to just soak in the mountain air, swimming, knitting, exploring, napping.
It was powerful to take a little time to reflect on growing older in the midst of an activity that makes me feel so alive and so capable. I hope that I mark several more decades by carrying a backpack into the mountains and staying a spell.