Thoughts while hiking near Reno, NV

It’s hot enough you can feel your breath evaporating the second you breathe out, and I’m still walking. We set off from a house outside of Reno, following no trail, wandering across the public lands that comprise 85% of Nevada. The day gets relentlessly hotter and there is no shade for miles and miles. The endless geology of basin and range is spread out before me, each hill identical, indistinguishable, insurmountable. I’ve moved past dehydration into madness, my steps zigzagging nonsensically through an ocean of sagebrush. I no longer try to preserve my legs; they brush through briars and thorns, so covered in scratches that they look white. Up and up and up, each step a fresh battle, willing myself to continue. I make promises I know I can’t keep—on top of this ridge is ice water, a cold shower, peppermint iced tea. Up, up and I break all of my promises, reaching the crest to reveal an identical mountain in the distance. The downhill should be relief, but my knees protest and it’s as much work to keep myself from running uncontrolled down the mountain as it was to walk up the rise. I find myself wishing once again for the slow trudge towards heaven, where the end is always just a little bit further. Here, I can see the full extent of what I have yet to accomplish. Down, down and there’s dust in my nose, in my eyes somehow despite the glasses, choking me, trying its best to consume me and turn me into a dry mass of uniformity. I push on, resisting with the knowledge that I am mostly water, some part water, at least enough water to separate me from the dust. Down, down, so tired I no longer care if I survive, one foot in front of the other and suddenly flat. No more slope, flat ground, just step, step, step. I see the house on the horizon. How far, I no longer care. It’s flat, and I step on through the dust and sagebrush, still crazy with heat and knowing that this, I could walk forever.

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