East of the Sun, West of the Moon

This song has been going through my head for a week. I finally find out why.

It’s time for my periodic hiking venture with Guy. After he finishes work, we go to Fairfax and hit the trailhead at Deer Park. I have written about this trail before, as the scene of an unusual series of magical initiations early in my career. Today, I am not expecting anything quite so out-of-the-ordinary. But it’s always possible.

A short climb takes us to one of my favorite views of Mt. Tam.

1262 Tam
View from Six Points. At lower right, Hidden Meadow trail.

At this point we have a conversation about how to continue. I don’t want to have to hike back in the dark, says Guy. What dark? I retort. We’ll have a full moon. Where is this moon? he asks, sweeping the empty sky. We won’t be able to see the moon from the trail, anyway.

I promise, we will have a moon. I convince him to head eastward on the Yolanda trail.

1273 Fairfax closer
Fairfax, viewed from the Yolanda trail

This is a beautiful walk on a nearly-level grade through bay, oak, and madrone, barely missing a redwood grove below, and occasionally opening up to lovely views of lengthening shadows and reddening sunlight.

We emerge at the top of a steep north-south ridge. To the east, peeking through a gap in the trees, there is the rising moon. I promised you the moon, I say, pointing to it, and you doubted me. There she is. (How often do you get to say this? My spirit exults!)

And there is the sun, setting in the west. And here we are in this magical place, east of the sun and west of the moon.  And suddenly, the earworm I have been tolerating all week is vindicated: somehow it has guided us to this spot, at this moment. How inevitable, that a story begun like a fairy tale should have a fairy-tale reference at its peak.

We sit on the ridgetop in the last rays of the sun to enjoy a hearty snack of bread, apple, and Queso de Murcia al Vino.

1282 Drunken Goat
     No, not me! I never get drunk on a hike. Drunken Goat is the name of the cheese I’m eating.

As the light fades, we make our way carefully down the steep mountainside. Descending through grassland by moonlight is easy; but once in the trees, seeing the path by elf-light is a bit trickier. Of course we carry flashlights and headlamps for emergencies, but it seems sacrilegious to turn them on before the close of this magical journey.

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