The rain was warm and required no accomodation. Still into the high seventies today, but a change is coming. Here and there a tree had already burst into flaming orange.
Up on 5018, I paused to take in the view of Pisgah. The post-rain vapors loitered amongst the trees below, smokiness of these smoky mountains. As I stood there a wind blew up from behind me, carrying some leaves. The wind was still warm, but held a quiet implication of the cold to come. Suggesting the not-too-distant day when a sudden shower without adequate raingear could get serious.Smokes in the valley, stormclouds breaking up. Looking over South Mills River Valley to Black and Clawhammer, with the exposed rock faces of Lookingglass on the far horizon.
In the dripping heat of summer, I try to recall the feeling of cold. Under the relentless sun I try to conjure the contraction of the shoulders, the muscle stiffness, the nonfunctional digits, the watery nose. In the gray cold of winter, I try to conjure the overheating, the exhaustion, the inexplicable slowness, the salt-tinged eyes of midsummer. In each season, I cannot quite summon the sense-memory of its opposite.
On the most oppressive summer ride, the heat is all that has ever existed. In midwinter, the glare of the summer sun is just a fable we tell ourselves.
Up on 5018 I look out on the smokes curling from the valley floor, knowing I've stood there at every season of the year. Knowing that soon I'll be standing there under a pale winter sun again, the bones of the hillsides visible beneath bare trees. And knowing that soon enough I'll be standing there in the uncompromising heat of summer yet again, suffocated by the overwhelming greenness.
On the way back down Yellow Gap, caught within one of the rising smokes