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The last few weeks have been overwhelmingly busy with paper grading, teaching, and more grading. I get up as the sun comes up, gaze longingly at the clear, cool sky as I walk to campus, and then shut myself up in a little fluorescent-lit cubicle until right about the time the sun begins to set.

For a while, Erik and I had planned on doing a hike. We were just waiting for the right day and the right weather.  On Sunday, weather and time aligned and we headed up late that afternoon so we could catch the sunset.

The mountain we climbed is called Sharp Top, but I dubbed it Pointy Hill because I thought it sounded better.  It looks quite pointy from a distance, but when you’re on the thing, it feels like you are simply wandering around in a forest that goes eternally uphill.

The sky was perfectly clear, but the foliage made it go from dim to bright to dim again.  We made our way further up and further in.  About every five minutes, I asked how much farther.  I’m dedicated like that.

Every rock looked like an excellent place to stop for a rest.  The nice thing about being an aspiring photographer is that I can just stop and say that I have to take some pictures instead of saying I’m tired and need a break.  It sounds so much better. 

I’m not sure whether I prefer the gently sloping upward path or the direct, steep scrambling.  The former is easier but the latter makes me feel like I’ll reach the top sometime in the near future.

I’d settle for a nice set of stone stairs all the way up. And then, with dramatic suddenness, we found ourselves beneath a deep, clear blue sky.The ground was farther below than I had expected – a delightful surprise.  I felt so accomplished.  Surely, now we must be near the top?  No?  Drat.Of course, I started getting all camera-happy at this point.Until Erik decided to quash my joy by telling me I might fall off and die if I tried to photograph and climb the steep rocks at the same time.  Spoilsport.Back into the wooded area, we went, with only tantalizing glimpses of the magnificent view beyond.  It kept us motivated to climb.  “Just a little further, I think,” Erik would say.  “Around a couple more bends?”

Yeah. Right.

This guy seriously startled me…I confess, when I saw a sign that said I still had 100 feet to go, I almost decided I’d rather just huddle up by the sign and give up.But those last 100 feet were well rewarded.  Well rewarded, indeed.More stairs… figures.We climbed onto the rock that makes the mountain look pointy from far away.  It is not a pointy rock.  I felt lied to.

Erik just felt awesome.We stayed up there until the sun began to set.  Then things got really glorious.It was genuinely chilly up there in the wind, but we had brought a whole thermos of hot red tea, which was an excellent idea, we discovered.If you look carefully, you can see the shadow of Pointy Hill (aka Sharp Top) extending all the way out beyond the mountains into the sky.The sun disappeared and left a glowy sky behind.  One of my favorite things about being back in the States is that we actually have days like this regularly where the sky is an endless expanse of blue.  I could count on my hands the number of days we had like this in Britain over the year I was there.  Possibly on just one hand…We still had to climb all the way down…  It was dark and scary with our one flashlight to share, but we made it in one piece.  And seriously, it was worth it.