Wilderness oases grow precious to me over the course of many visits. This is one such place, the last place that K camped in the desert. We've now dubbed it K's Rock.
Indeed, this summer, a trail that I'd traveled with each of my dogs for almost 15 years was suddenly closed. Up until that day, K and I had been hiking on the trail most days despite the steady progression of her cancer. During each hike, we'd stop to sit in a spot where I've sat with almost all of our Labs, most of them now gone. It's a spot where the sounds of the forest and the views of the mountains drown out all else. Civilization seems like it's millions of miles away.
Throughout the spring, I kept thinking that, as long as K could hike as far as that special spot, we were okay - the cancer wasn't winning. It was one of those crazy thoughts that a person has when they're faced with the unfathomable. To me, the trail wasn't just a path between two places but an enchanted part of the forest, a special magical place, where I'd lived important moments of my life, not just with K but with other canine pack members.
I know that the world never stops changing - but I truly hope that I, and others like me, don't lose the wondrous places in the wilderness that bring alive memories of people, animals, and moments that have shaped our lives. While someone else might think that these places can be replaced by "another trail" in a different part of the forest, it's simply not true. Certain special places have become part of the fabric of my life and my history. For that reason alone, I'll always be drawn to them.