Early on in my relationship with Ethan, we didn’t have much money to spend on dates so we went out for hikes and walks around the neighborhood instead. Throughout the walks, we talked about ourselves, getting to know each other more, also getting to know ourselves more throughout that process, if we could even talk through the treacherous toiling.
I remember this one time we went hiking up the mountain behind Tolson Elementary school; it looks more like a big rocky hill. Walking to that mountain takes about the same time to get up the mountain. Let me warn you, this little mountain is no joke.
Once we got started hiking up this deceiving hill-mountain thing, Ethan and I were already huffing and puffing and wheezing. We were dying; it was excruciating going uphill this insanely steep mountain and I was nowhere near in shape for this type of athletic activity. I needed a break within 10 minutes of the hike and I could feel the beads of sweat already running down the back of my neck and on my forehead. My water bottle was already half empty. We kept going straight up this narrow trail; my calves getting a wake-up call. Ethan would turn around and ask me if I was ok since he can hear my labored breathing.
We made it 1/3 of the way there and we saw a grave marker of someone’s dog named Pongo or something like that. It probably was a Dalmatian since the cross was painted with spots. I think they took the name from “101 Dalmatians” or something. We took a small break and headed uphill again. This time, golf courses were visible. I never knew we had so much grass so green which is so unnatural and weird here in the desert. We encountered a winding trail going up and we had to walk slowly since it was close to the edge. The view was amazing. The sunset was breathtakingly beautiful, the colors so vibrant and rich. The deep purples and pinks were like watercolors leaking throughout the desert sky. I felt like I could almost touch it, the wind energizing me.
Finally we made it to the top and out our water was almost all gone and Ethan and I were still extremely dehydrated and drenched in sweat. We sat on the dirt floor, rocks were poking my thighs. Yet, there were no rocks big enough to use as seats. I don’t really remember exactly what we talked about. But, throughout our conversation we were throwing rocks down the mountain, feeling accomplished, completely forgetting about our crazy journey and dehydration. We couldn’t believe that we actually made it up there alive. I do remember when Ethan and I kissed and he told me about how that area was where he went to think, his sanctuary. I remember how Ethan and I talked about our dreams and goals, reminiscing about our first date, elaborating on what we talked about there.
We didn’t realize how dark it was getting and we quickly made our way down the mountain. We realized that had to move slower since the walk down was more dangerous. The sun was setting too fast! It was pitch black already and we couldn’t see a thing. I thought I was going to die. Ethan used the light on his cell phone to help us see. I thought coyotes were going to come and eat me for dinner. I thought a snake was going to bite me. I thought helicopters were going to have to come and rescue us. Then Ethan told me to calm down, that we would be ok. We laughed about my fears. He took my hand and led us down the mountain. What saved us was the Pongo grave marker. Once we found that, we could find the distinct rock trail and go straight down to civilization. Thank god we made it down alive, without snake bites and without being coyote dinner. I will always remember being stranded in the mountain with you Ethan. Thank you for saving our lives. I love you!