I stood at the base of Mount Washington, one of the majestic objectives along the Appalachian Trail. I was wrung out. Exhausted. I could hike no further. Regardless where my heart was, climbing the summit and backpacking south would not happen for me. At least not this season. My ascent would come three years later. My heart was pressed by a bleak heaviness. I felt my stomach had been scooped out. There was a hollowness there, like the gaping maw of an infinite cavern. My emotional feet were pulled from under me, my physical endurance spent. A tempestuous sorrow nearly buried me, like the cresting wave at the seashore knocks over a little child. Vertigo. Even my 32 pound pack seemed like the 55 pound burden it had been when I departed Springer Mountain in Georgia. There was no compromise; no getting past it. “Not to be,” the summit seemed to say. “Not this day.” For all that, the depressing finger punched the chest of my psyche. It pointed and accused. “Failure!” I fended off the lie. It was the end for now, a bittersweet washout. I retreated in wisdom, with grace. The mountain, sheathed in lowering clouds, was inaccessible. But there would be another day.