As fall crinkled into winter, I yanked on my hiking boots and hit the trail. I was desperate to harvest the season’s last temperate air. In my haste, I stumbled on the footpath. A few pebbles slid into my boot. But I continued, not stopping to toss the hitchhiking stones.
Minutes later, my heel began to itch. The unexpected gravel in my travel was elbowing for room in my shoe. However, I continued. The pinyon-junipers beckoned me further.
Soon, the stone’s edge burrowed into the belly of my arch. I shuddered, but continued. The day’s light waned.
Miles beyond the trailhead, the boulder-size pain simmered to dull pebble ache. I shrugged, and continued.
Reaching the trail’s end, I savored the destination yet discarded the journey. At home I emptied my boot filled with blood and complacency.
Have we grown accustomed to the flavor of Salt Lake City’s polluted air? Let us not allow familiarity to breed complacency. We cannot live with this rock in our shoe.
Kristina Lyn Heitkamp is a children’s author, environmental journalist, and plein air writer. She’s authored several non-fiction books and articles on various topics, including soundscape ecology and bison conservation. She is also a freelance researcher for National Geographic Books. b. 1976