Sometimes, it’s not a heavy bag, it’s knowing you’re back, in whatever way you need to be.
For me, recovery from surgery has been a top priority, recapturing muscle tone and endurance with the ultimate goal a bonafide chukar hunt in the (really) high lonesome.
If you hunt this Middle Eastern transplant, you know there’s little point in loading the shotgun until you get up, way up. The climb is arduous, up hillsides that are more rock than soil. The air thins and knees shake. And if it’s your first of the season due to doctors, tumors and scalpels, you question your motive.
Who needs to prove what, to whom? I do. To me. Just because.
We pound upward, Buddy and I, through cheatgrass and over boulders. The bandana becomes a sweatband, breath comes quicker and the sun rises higher. That familiar burning in the thighs returns.
We find old sign but no birds. The nearest water is two miles down the hill, where we started, which explains their absence. I adjust my expectations and lean further into the slope.
A cursory circling of the bald knob at the summit is more for effect than any expectation of a covey. But the view is spectacular, and simply knowing the legs carried me up here is enough for today.