On our last assent to a remote peak of the San Gabriel my Grandfather and I decided to take a new path along the eastern fork of what we called the “Little Creek”. The water played in and out of random boulders and branches that provided safe crossing when the trail required. The morning sunlight filtered through the green foliage by the water’s edge and danced across my Grandfathers lean frame, accentuating the familiar labyrinth of colors in the tightly rolled up indian blanket above his backpack.
I remember the depth of of my love for him and the joy of being outside and included in his pilgrimages. With our steps and sometimes miscalculated crossings of Little Creek, we would laugh when our feet slipped on the moist boulders and found the water deep to the knee. Our laughter always interwoven with comfortable silence between topics ranging from continental drift to the virtues of corn nuts and Dr. Pepper. I loved my Grandfather.
Sensing his age, I marveled at his determination to lead us upstream to our eventual vista. I didn’t want these adventures to end, but knew it unfair to expect our sojourns to continue. This likely would be the last time to spread the colorful blanket under the stars together, and although feeling this, we both anticipated a profound occurrence this night in our shared lives.
Unusually early to partake in the pipe, my grandfather reminisced about the blanket beneath us. He shared that it was given to him by his grandfather on their last hike in Santa Fe, and how it had served to lend ceremony to their sharing of the tales. He recalled the various storylines one after another until they merged together loosely like the thin vapors of smoke swirling from the base of his pipe into the heavens.
I knew this night was to be special and although trying hard to stay attentive I finally succumbed to the long hike’s deep sleep waiting at the end of our trail……my last memory that night, being my grandfather smoking and laughing at the stars, his voice diminishing to the sound of the wind and warmth of being fireside. I loved my Grandfather.
With the rising sun, I went to the stream’s edge for some water. When I returned, I found the colorful indian blanket tightly rolled up, affixed to the top of my pack.