Jed climbed further up the steep hillside and looked skyward. The sheer and crumbling face of the mountain ahead seemed to stretch upwards to heaven and perhaps beyond. He couldn’t comprehend the distance he had yet to go. No man alive had ever attempted this climb and even though Jed was an experienced mountaineer and explorer, he was feeling nervous. He’d been climbing mountains and hills since he was a young man, now he was feeling his age in his knees and hands and the climb seemed harder than it ever had in the past. He stretched his back and continued his solitary assault on the mountain.
“It’ll be fine once I get off this rocky and unstable ledge of rubble”, Jed said to the wind.
He paused to adjust his pack and getter a better handle on his walking poles. He took a deep breath through his nose. He had a strange feeling in his chest and for the first time in his long climbing life he turned and looked back at the small Tibetan village in the valley down below. There were flowers that bloomed in this early spring and their sweet odor filled the winds of the valley. He never used to look behind himself as he climbed, but today, these blooming flowers reminded him of how his wife once smelled.
“Concentrate Jed”, he said, “this is no time to get sentimental”.
The scented wind rushed about his face and those blooming flowers seemed to beg for his attention. He shook his head as if he was avoiding a gnat or other small bug. He pressed forward, trying to focus on just putting one foot in front of the other and imagining his actual vertical climb. He’d planned the route so carefully over the last few weeks, but since no one had climbed this mountain before or at least lived to tell the tale. He was slightly unsure his route would be successful. He knew he had to try though. Genevieve would want him to continue.
Jed stopped walking. Genevieve had perished on her own mountain trek while guiding some very inexperienced hikers down what should have been an easy trail. Her heart just gave out and she fell into a chasm. She wasn’t found. The wind whistled in the otherwise silent landscape still fresh with moonflower odor. Jed looked at his path and gauged how close to the actual mountain face he was. He only had a few more miles to go before starting his climb. He wished his beloved was with him.
Jed and Genevieve had a ritual before his climbs. She’d tell him it was too dangerous but then egg him on to do it anyway. She was his greatest motivator. He missed her so.
The mountain face came into view and Jed scanned its enormity. It seemed bigger in front of his face than any other mountain he’d ever seen. He decided he’d make camp and continue his climb in the morning when the sun would be on his shoulders.
As he set up his tent and packed his gear away his thoughts lingered on Genevieve and the blossoming flowers in the valley below. He knew there was no going back. All that was left was the climb up. His last climb up into the unknown. He felt excitement in his gut and a giddy smile seemed etched on his weathered face.
"See you at the top my love", he said to the scented wind.
The wind bushed gently across his face as day slowly fell into night.