We always have at least one argument, and usually it's over something stupid. (This day it was because he wanted to get started and I still had to stop at the bathroom and adjust my cords and retie my boots and start my Strava app. And put some sunscreen on.)
I hike fast when we're going uphill.
He hikes so fast going downhill I swear he is running. Then I point out that he's not going downhill on feet, but on skis. Then I get frustrated with my stumbling attempts to go faster, but my fear of falling is larger than the frustration.
He hikes with a goal in mind: get to the saddle, get to the summit, get to the waterfall or the cave or the scenic vista.
I hike to see what the trail will show me; I like the destination, of course, but I like the vignettes along the way, too.
He wants to get where we're going, then turn around and come home.
I like to stop along the way to admire flowers or cliffs or the way the exposed stones are like the scattered bones of a giant. Then I want to stop and take a picture. Or seven.
I need to eat a few small bites on a long hike—some trail mix, a banana, a handful of crackers.
He hardly eats anything except for beef jerky.
(We both like the Clif Bloks.)
He drinks every bit of his water and then I share mine.
I generally forget to drink my water and then I get a little bit dehydrated. When we share I end up drinking more because he reminds me.
At the top, I like to sit for a good long while, admiring the view, wondering about the names of the peaks I can see but haven't climbed yet. I imagine stories. I stand at the edge and feel my pulse rise at the drop, exhilarated. I try to find a place away from everyone else and just be right here. And eat a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
At the top, he stays away from sheer edges. He likes to talk to whomever else is up there. He finds out where they're from and swaps stories in his easy, friendly way. But he doesn't like to stay for very long, and there is no sandwich for him because it would make his stomach hurt.
We both eat grapes though. There at the top of Timp. Even when it is cold, and the sweat that has bloomed between our backs and our backpacks starts to dry and chill us in the wind, a bag of grapes—cold, sweet, crisp—at the apogee of a hike is the ultimate in delicious refreshment. Refreshment in the most literal of meanings, the body made fresh again.
Our hiking styles are antitheses. He gets annoyed by my picture taking and I get annoyed by his refusal to savor the journey.
But I confess: I love that we share this. I love looking back and seeing him come up a hill I've just crested and knowing before I can hear him how his breath will sound. I love come down a curve and spotting him in the distance, with his confident stride and his floppy hat.
I love that when our strides match or one of us catches the other, we talk. We discuss the kids and the house and God and faith. We laugh. I am more open and I share what I am thinking instead of keeping it in my head, and while sometimes what is in my head is weird or fantastic or silly, I like that I am able to share it anyway.
His slower uphill hiking gives me time to take pictures without annoying him.
My slower downhill gives him time to stop and breathe when he waits for me.
We've hiked hundreds of miles. Together. Even if we're not side by side, but still on the same mountain. Still in the same beauty.
I spot him off in the distance and maybe I'm mad or maybe he's annoyed or maybe we are both perfectly blissful or thoroughly exhausted, but definitely sweaty and maybe a little bit smelly and I can only be reminded, once I am stripped of everyday banality the way that the mountains and a trail strip me, that he is mine and I love him.