Our first way station is the Killington Grand for the upcoming week, a ski-on/ski-off mountain lodge in the winter that switches to lift-up/bike-down in the summer.
In the ensuing days Rachel and I have ambitions for downhill mountain biking, maneuvering the Skye Ropes Course, racing down the zip line, and riding the Beast Mountain Coaster, plus stand-up paddleboarding, and kayaking the resort’s lake, not to mention scouting nearby cities and properties for potential Haven sites. But today we hiked.
We planned a three-mile, one-hour scouting trek one-third of the way up Killington Mountain, with plenty of time to get back before imminent afternoon thunderstorms and a promised Mo Lowda concert.
“Clearly Marked by Signs”
“Hiking trails are clearly marked by signs posted along the trail,” said the brochure.
We soldiered uphill for the first half-hour, hunting for those groomed trails clearly marked by signs. At one point an official guide drove up on his ATV to explain how far off the clearly marked trail we were. He waved vaguely across the mountain. “Through that gate. It says no traffic but just go around the warning sign.”
Which we did, looking for hiking trials clearly marked by signs. We saw one or two, suggesting to our naive eyes that perhaps this way downhill through the scenic undergrowth would give an authentic Vermont forest experience.
Ten minutes later our adventurousness was rewarded as the exceedingly lush “pathway” was suddenly clearly marked by a trail sign that we were exactly where we wanted to be.
But step by verdant step, the canopy and undergrowth competed to close us in.
Instead of pastoral trails, for the next 90 minutes the ground underneath became muddy tracks, knee-high weeds, immature cockleburs, and likely poison ivy threatening our naked shins. No more signs were to be seen, clearly or not. They just … disappeared. We trudged downhill, through terrain that would have preferred long pants and a machete, at the very least. Clouds overhead darkened.
We finally emerged not at Killington’s base, but a mile up the service road and well off the lodge property. Walking back roadside was a relief, even as we raced the darkening thunderheads.
Fret not. Despite spotting many three-leaved miscreants, our naked shins appear to have emerged safely.
After thorough showers and decontaminating our potentially ivy-oil-coated boots and clothes, we waited out the thundering deluge in our room, then wandered next door for to catch Mo Lowda and the Humble, a band we had included in our playlist during the four-day drive here.
Imagine a three-piece Kings of Leon jam band with looper pedals, only louder.
It was a most excellent performance, especially rewarding after the day’s earlier frustrations from wandering so far outside the lines. But about an hour into the set, it occurred to me that I should get back to the room, that I had indulged enough and it was time to move on to the next thing.
Because there was always a next thing looming, an obligation to someone or something that meant staying too long in the moment was an undeserved indulgence. There was always something pressing … except this time there wasn’t.
This time, remaining in the moment wasn’t an indulgence, it was the entire purpose. There was nothing else more important, no next item to check off the list, no place to be but here, listening to Mo Lowda and the Humble do what they do best, and enjoying the hell out of it.
Thinking that there is always something more important to do is a bad habit, built from lifetimes of living for whoever and whatever comes next.
We are both slowly breaking it.