Do you remember where you were on 9/11? Where you were when President Obama made history as the first Black president of our country? How about now – will you remember where you were when Kamala Harris became our first female, Black, Asian-American vice president?
I will remember.
Saturday morning, the fifth morning of the election, dawned with no new news. Things were leaning blue, but I was still nervous that something might change. I was awake very early to get ready for an hour-forty-minute drive up to Lost Maples for a hike. Once there, I discovered that – as expected – I had no cell signal. I met up with the other seven ladies going on this hike, and we hit the trails. Lost Maples is known for its amazing color changes in November. You have to reserve one of the limited day passes a month in advance – you can’t do it any earlier than that and they run out FAST. And you never know exactly which week the trees will begin to turn. Happily, we arrived in the early turning. Maybe a quarter of the maples were red, orange, or gold, and that will ripple outwards over the next week or two, with new trees turning and turned trees losing their leaves. If you’re lucky enough to get to the park in this window, it’s a riot of color.
I haven’t been to Lost Maples since the fall of 1998, but I still recognized a lot of the trail. At one point, we diverged from the trails my family used to take, and took the challenging East Trail upwards. For 0.8 miles, we went up. And up. And up. About 400-450 feet of elevation in a very short distance! When we reached the top, we could look out over the valleys and peaks of the area. I say we were on top of a mountain, and that’s not quite true as these are technically still hill-sized – just very big hills! It felt like we’d reached the top of a mountain, though.
And as we stopped to check the map and decide which direction to go, one of the ladies realized that she had signal, now that we were at such a high altitude. She started to check her phone, and suddenly quieted us all. “Ladies,” she said, “Ten minutes ago, Kamala Harris made history.” We paused for only a beat, letting that sink in, and then began to cheer and whoop.
As we traveled over the top of the mountain and down a slippery, rocky slope back to the bottom, we heard other groups break into cheers as they got the news. Various groups on all sides of the mountain were cheering back and forth to each other, echoing across the valley. Amazingly, we didn’t hear a single set of boos or insults. Everyone we passed was celebrating. I’ve heard about towns where cars were driving by honking, or where crowds gathered in the streets to dance and shout, or where people rang bells all clanging together. My experience was of a mountainside exploding into joy as people got the news intermittently in an area with almost no cell signal. It was glorious.
I’m so glad I got to spend this day with these women. It’s very hard for me to do a lot of what I did Saturday – especially to drive by myself over roads I don’t know to an uncertain destination (no one knew where we’d meet up) – but every hard step was worth it. I know where I was when history was made. I was with my hiking family at the top of a mountain.