There is always a tone to the last day’s breaking camp to go home. Because of how the trip has gone there is sometimes an urgency…an intense desire to be off the trail and into a hot shower and a bag of Doritos. And other times it is different. There is hesitancy and dragging of feet. Pauses and looking all around. It’s the latter this time. The trip has been wonderful, and no one wants to leave…including me. While breaking camp I become an audience to my thoughts as they scheme to find a way to stay. One more day of joyously simple living. One more night of fire and stars and tent. When the show is done I discover that the tent is down and my pack is trail ready. We pause at a special pictographed rock. I point out to the kids that travelers leave offerings of significance here to give thanks for safe passage through the valley and mark the fact that they are somehow different now than when they entered.
There is tobacco, a hat, several notes written on bark. We are silent for a moment.
I’m never sure who we are thanking…God, The Great Spirit, the Universe, the rock…but it doesn’t matter as the moment is meaningful. And as we turn to leave the valley and re-enter suburbia out the corner of my eye I spot a baseball capped pajama panted teen place something on the rock before picking up his pack. It’s his ipod earphones.