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  • Writer's pictureAram Mitchell

frigid night

We woke up in the desert on the first day of our trek to find that our water bottles were half frozen. Not unexpected, but jarring nonetheless. It takes a while to work the blood flow back into fingers and toes after spending a frigid night exposed to the elements. After a night like that we’re a far (and sometimes quite literal) cry from anything resembling renewal. But we’re heading in the right direction.

I read a line from Tolkien last night. Frodo, Merry, Pippin, and Sam have succumbed to the disorienting fog on the barrows, and Frodo wakes to discover that they are held captive by the Barrow-wights: “The night was railing against the morning of which it was bereaved, and the cold was cursing the warmth for which it hungered.”

That’s the sentiment. That’s what lurked behind our unsure smiles as we gathered around the camp stove on the first morning of our canyon hike.

But hot water for tea warmed our cold fingers. And the morning sun crept up on us. And the gathering dread of uncertainty shifted by a few degrees to a welcome embrace of the unknown. Our hearts tuned to the hum of confidence gathering between us. We blew a kiss to comfort for comfort’s sake and set out for the prolonged and austere picnic that is a hike through the wilderness.

Now, on this side of the trek, my smile is sure. My community has expanded. My faith in our collective wisdom has been renewed. As needed: We can band together in the night, coaxing courage from our proximity, bolstering hope with shared capacity, and tuning our hearts to the promise of morning.

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