The dog barks. I open my eyes, groggy and disoriented, look at the clock. Five AM. Not an ungodly hour to arise. So, I did, and here I am. No more later, a new start.

Puffy clouds are lit up by the sun still beneath the horizon, shades of gray, becoming blue, fill the sky. No activity by bird or beast, a still, calm morning.

Now a raven calls, three times, then another three. I stare north. A single dead pine in the distance is lit up by the sun, a single small cloud above it is bright reflecting white.

My heart is still this morning, still considering the day ahead, without conclusions or plans. When there is a clear trail it is the easiest thing to keep taking steps. When no trail seems to exist, one regularly ponders the path to take, gingerly stepping at times, staring at various options, wondering which will be easiest on feet, and less abusive to legs.

That’s where I stand, looking out, figuring the path, not seeing a clear trail.

It is the fact, however, that I love hiking offtrail, winding my way around, over, and under. Explains a lot I suppose.