Recently, I took a hike to Fayette Lake. Like most of the high alpine lakes in Sublette County, it is familiar and unique at the same time. There was so much sign of elk in the area I expected to come across a herd at any moment, but they must have skedaddled long before I arrived. Despite sighting no wildlife, I spent the time flinging my line into the water in hopes of catching a fish. It didn’t happen (I hate to point this out, but I haven’t caught a single fish this summer. Oh well).
While standing at the lake, I felt my feet grow numb from crossing a stream and began thinking, mostly about J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle Earth.
Prior to the hike, I began reading The Silmarillion for probably the 14th time. I love that book, even though I know once it’s finished I will have to pick up The Hobbit and then The Lord of the Rings, because, well, that’s the way it goes and it’s hard for me not to finish something once I’ve started it. Another thought began to germinate in my mind: What next?
More than two years ago I arrived in Wyoming ready for anything and expecting the same. But a wanderer receives no rest, whether it’s intentional or not, and I realized it’s time to leave the Cowboy State and head for some new adventure. But where to?
For a while I’ve been thinking about moving back to New York. I have two godchildren there, my sister is planning to get married and that’s where my family and roots are. Just as the Noldor were birthed in Middle Earth, so too did they return, but was that right for me? I decided it might be and began planning for the long journey home. At the same time, a pit began to grow in my stomach.
It began small, perhaps the size of an acorn, but with every step I took back east, it became larger; growing heavier, sharper, cutting my insides and causing pain. It wasn’t the right decision, and I knew it but I kept forcing it.
At this point, I’d lost all feeling in my feet and decided I needed to get back to my car and I began walking. As I reached the apex of the ridge I felt like I could see the entire country. Behind me, the East, and in the very far distance sat New York, my home, and I could feel a slight pull. Ahead, the West, where the sun had begun making its descent toward the Pacific Ocean, and the place where I was destined to continue to. I started this journey into the West, and I wouldn’t forsake it until I reached the far coast of this country. I would finish what I started.