It’s something like exit 25 when you can really start to see the mountains, when it’s 8:00am and you’ve already been driving for two hours but seeing that first peak something like 30 miles away swaps groggy for giddy. And you look at your dashboard and think about how as your elevation rises the temperature drops, how the leaves are just barely changing but it’s going to be cold up there. Later you’ll wear gloves at the summit and you’ll think only about the physical. How up here, at least, you are strong.
On the way down it takes the fifth person asking how much longer before you realize you’ve been telling people it’s something like 20 minutes to the top for the past hour; time doesn’t exist. They don’t exist. Some places remind you of people but on the drive home you listen to podcasts, not music and think about how lucky you are this place reminds you of no one, how smart you were to never have brought anyone who’d leave.