Arden and I finished the Prescott Circle Trail this morning. The last segment isn’t particularly stunning by any measure, but it does have some great vistas of the city and the surrounding mountains. When we’d originally set out to do this, it was a clear goal to distract us during the pandemic when we felt cooped up and bored. It definitely has been a bonding experience for us and one that I will reflect upon with gratitude throughout her senior year.
As we hiked today, she was in a bit of a hurry due to other plans later today, and so I was alone with my thoughts for much of the morning. I hiked as fast as I could to keep up with her pace, mindful of my steps on the rocky trail. When we first began, back in July, I thought we’d finish long before October arrived. But with school starting in early August and the energy and effort that required of me to begin my classes and convert them to a digital format, there was little left for hiking. Now our school has gone to a modified hybrid schedule with the vast majority of our students attending school in person part time and from home the remaining days.
I thought of so many things as we wound up and down over the hills leading back to our neighborhood. Covid, of course, was an intrusive thought, as it has been this past half year or so, thinking of friends who have lost a loved one or been sick and have not recovered fully still. I thought of the election and the uncertainty and chaos that surround it, and of the important educational issues on the ballot in Arizona (Please vote YES on 208!). I thought about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many others, and their families and wondered how they are doing this morning. I thought about Dan and I becoming empty nesters next year and how we will adjust to that. I thought about our ongoing drought and the haze from the smoke of the wildfires all over the West, and how climate change is already impacting our lives in ways we might not have expected. I thought of all the trips we’ve taken as a family and the opportunities we’ve had together in beautiful spaces outdoors, and I am so grateful. I wondered how long it might be until the pandemic ends and our lives become adjusted to whatever that new normal might be.
Completing the Circle Trail has been on my actual bucket list – yes – for about seven or eight years now. I wondered, as I hiked, how it would feel to complete an item on my list. And it felt good. I feel accomplished, and simultaneously energized and tired. I’m grateful for this time with Arden and the fact that we could do this task together. On one of our breaks this morning, I asked which segment was her favorite, and hers was the same as mine – the portion from Copper Basin to White Spar. This portion is beautiful and contains the literal high point of the trail at 6660 feet – ponderosas stretching tall into the sky and where we happened upon a garter snake with its mouth impossibly clamped upon a horned toad. And now, with this circle complete, I wonder what’s next.