The stepped path in this picture is just to the right of the fork in the trail that goes around the top of Pilot Mountain. Going to the right and up the steps takes you around counterclockwise, while the left holds the return path, or the clockwise path, depending on the direction you choose. Both directions take you all the way around and back again.
Recently, I found myself walking my two favorite canines along this path, and just before the fork in the trail I came upon a young couple (and at my age, ‘young couple’ probably means early 20’s?) standing at the sign that lets you know how far you are from where you’re headed. At this sign, you can see the top of the knob, but it’s becoming evident that this little tip of rock that tickles the sky is actually quite enormous. As I approached, the couple stood holding hands and talking face to face.
They were tourists. And by tourists, I mean they’d never been there before. Given Mt. Pilot’s proximity to the Interstate, a lot of passersby stop to see it. Which is great, but when you’re up there you know right away who is an old fixture on the mountain and who is just passing through. I’m always happy to guide anyone that asks where the best views are. Oddly, atop the mountain, I become quite social?
The young lady stopped me with a smile, and asked if I knew how much farther it was to the top. I had to break the news to them that you can no longer get to the tippy top of the knob, but only circle the base of it. The young man was disappointed, and his lady friend asked if it was ‘worth the walk’ to go the rest of the way since they couldn’t get to the top?
I had failed in my tour guide duties. Worth the walk? I drove nearly 30 miles to walk my dogs here just for the view! So I went through the long list of things I love about the loop around the base of the rock faces, all the unique rock formations, and the views from each clearing along the way around. Definitely worth the walk. They thanked me politely and before I bid them good day I assured them they can’t get lost- the trail only goes around and back. As I walked away, I peeked behind me to see that they had turned back. Am I old if I’m walking my dogs and I suddenly realize that I’m about the journey, and not the destination?
I quickly realized that I wasn’t disappointed that they chose not to partake of my favorite place, I was disappointed because, if I had that afternoon to relive again in my early 20’s, and I had an opportunity to walk the entire walk holding the hand of a young love, I’d have probably walked it twice, and stopped to dally several times along the way! I wished I’d said that to them instead of the Park Ranger speech I’d given. The time I took to explain the views to them was probably as much for my enjoyment of their young glow as a couple as it was for their benefit. I rarely leave anything unsaid, but in this case, I just didn’t realize what I wanted to say until it was too late.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I do live by that way of thinking. If I have a beautiful afternoon to kill with no particular purpose, I spend it walking with my two favorite humans, or otherwise enjoying their company for the sake of enjoying their company.
Since I missed my opportunity to impose unsolicited and aged advice on this random young couple, I thought I’d tell all of you instead! A couple days late and several dollars short, it’s still a good idea to walk the entire walk regardless of where the path goes or what you see along the way. Especially if you have the hand of a loved one to hold all the while. That fortune is literally in the palm of your hand, and the view is just there trick you into enjoying your fortune a little longer on any given day…
Cheers from The www.ThreeFiveZero Said