The anticipation rises as the storyteller describes the scene so well that it appears in your mind fresh with vibrant colors and sounds.
Suddenly, what you expected topples into the sea. You go from visualizing a castle of stone on a cliff above the sea to a card house exploding in a flurry of rustling motion. You become more attentive.
Two friends climbed a mountain forty years ago. They stood at the Rocky peak of Mount Audubon as the sun rose. They watched their shadows stretch across miles, reaching distant mountain tops faster than thought. They decided that when they had children they needed to come back and climb it again.
Time has a twisted sense of humor. Forty years is a short span of time to a tree, a mountain, a stream while it is half of a lifetime for us.
Two old men with the spirit of youth looked at each other and decided to heed wisdom. They went to the mountain to see what current conditions were. It was a festive scouting mission. Snow was piled taller than we were on either side of the road. The road was not open yet to cars even though it was almost June and it normally opens May first. We walked two miles to the campground. Snow drifts over ten feet tall were lazily claiming every campsite. Walking to the restrooms was a Herculean effort. I kept wondering how hard it would be to climb out if I fell into the snow. The two friends decided to see what weather would do, three weeks before the momentous hike was scheduled. Plane flights, coordination of housing, food, and many little details kept stress high.
If this was stressful it was a good thing we weren't in the Donner party. As a side note, auto correct tries to make Donner dinner.
Weeks passed. Snow stayed. Health conditions got a serious look. After forty years, stamina took a break. Bad knees in one and a tricky heart with breathing problems became a factor for the other.
Although in dreams we climbed Audubon, in reality we camped at Red Feather Lakes. It was beautiful. We collected morels, found geocaches, lost a walkie talkie looking for a volcanic lake. We saw elk, moose, and I held a hummingbird in my hand that had gotten trapped in the cabin. I felt its heartbeat racing its breath. I set it free with a friend. We rode horses, did archery, went fishing, paddleboating, and had campfires with fanciful tales and l.e.d. poi.
It might not have been the vision the two youths had as they watched their shadows take on the proportions of Gods but it was exciting and worth every minute.
In the end, we got our mountain fix by driving into Rocky Mountain National Park. We drove Trail Ridge Road and did short hikes. We had a snowball fight, watched marmots, moose, elk, and various rodents go about their daily life. Our shadows might not have stretched across the sky but our spirits soared above the wispy clouds.
The best stories never go the way you think they will, and when you tell the story it changes with what you bring into focus. Someone else might have focused differently, their story could be of turmoil, soul searching, self worth, interpersonal bliss or conflict while you were laughing at the times the kids and I konked ourselves in the head with the poi or when I bounced off a tree and fell into a waist deep stream.
It depends on where you want to take the dreamer you are giving the story to. Give them the unexpected, the moment that made the day sublime.