We ascend, my barefoot Alaskan companion and I, the trees and boulders becoming bigger as we cross patches of dirty snow, stepping into lengthening shadows as the sun disappears below the horizon. Zach stubs his toe and puts on Crocs with purple socks, a bright reminder of the twenty-first century world we left behind. Before nightfall, we set up camp beside the wonderfully tranquil Young Lake, edged by stunning snow-covered mountains on the opposite shore.
During the night, I step outside and walk around, the lakeside trees and boulders illuminated by moonlight. The temperature had dropped below freezing and my bones hurt with the ache of cold. In the lake is a perfect reflection of the snowy mountains under a full moon caught exactly at the midpoint between the two highest peaks. This is beautiful and I am fully alive.