The Hiker

She is light on her feet. Lithe, with short, white blonde hair. She floats, rather than hikes, with steps like a river’s dance over the dirt and rocks.

She wishes me a good morning, and I reply with a smile. As she passes, I notice a shopping bag dangling from her backpack. Perhaps, I think, she would go grocery shopping after hiking. But at her pace, she would finish exercising long before the stores open. And besides, why have it hanging when she could roll it up and place it in her bag?

Just ahead of me, she jerks to the side, a frown creasing her brow. “Trash,” she mutters. I can hear the sneer in her words. “Pisses me off.” She bends down and picks up an empty Gatorade bottle, abandoned by either an uncaring tourist, or inconsiderate local.

She places it in the shopping bag and continues on. I stare after her, a smile testing the edges of my lips. The morning sun flares wings from her back.

——

I often hike early in the mornings in order to avoid the tourist traffic. The regular morning crew is awesome, and I’m starting to recognize faces. They’re all friendly and dedicated, and definitely admirable.