Akiko pulled herself out of bed. It was still dark – the tent’s yellow inside was more a blackish-grey – but it was the right time for her to get up. She had waited just for this.
Not just waited. Akiko had hiked for the past two days for this. The receding roar of the highway was panacea to her soul, replaced by the sound of birds, wind in the trees, life. She could breathe again, fully. The city was gone.
The two days of hiking were intermittently hard slog, and joyful movement. Akiko hadn’t had a hike like this in years, but her body was still delighted with it, even if it complained.
Now, as Akiko climbed out of the sleeping bag and stretched, she could feel every day she hadn’t gotten enough exercise. But the reminders were good for her, she knew. Painful, good.
She unzipped the tent and slid out, still in her pajamas. She could get dressed later. The light was starting.
Akiko climbed out of the tent, closed it behind her, and stood. She looked out on the valley below, the light gold of dawn just starting to peak at the horizon. She stretched again and watched it climb, the day sharing its beauty with her.