The explorer treads over uneven rocks. Each step brings him higher; closer to that untouchable blue dome of the sky.
Certainly there have been so many maps drawn and flags planted in the ground, but nobody has ever climbed this ridge before; no human foot has ever treaded these uneven stones. This is the explorers own journey–his alone.
His aches and pains, are his alone. He climbs and he gets closer to the sky he cannot reach. He hauls himself up in places where the ridge becomes to steep. He steadies himself when the rocks underfoot become too loose.
He stays upright. He treads. He climbs.
Nobody has ever reached the top of this ridge before. Nobody but the explorer, our intrepid friend and he does not know we are watching him. Higher he climbs, and higher. There are many stories about what lays beyond the ridge, each tale grander than the last: a lost city of gold, a valley filled with living prehistoric life, an inland sea of glistening water that can restore one’s youth.
These tales are sheer fancy, of course. Ripped from half-remembered folk stories and patched together in the form of an unlikely carrot-on-a-stick. For just because none have ever made it to the top of this ridge before does not mean that others have not tried.
The explorer pays no heed to the bones that he passes on his way up the ridge. Some of them clutch notes, flapping in the wind. The explorer finds it unlikely that their bodies would decay but the notes would remain intact and so he does not read the notes. In truth, the notes say nothing useful.
And now the explorer has passed well beyond any other adventurer. Each step he takes is a victory for him alone to savour. He has made it farther than anyone else. He has made it–almost–to the very top of the ridge. Mere moments separate him from discovering what lies beyond it.
Soon, he will know if any of the stories are true.
He clings and climbs. He groans and clambers. And then, at last, he hauls himself up those few precious inches that bring him to the peak. He does not have a chance to catch his breath before he sees what lies beyond the ridge. Immediately, tears fill his eyes.
He will sit there for a time, weeping with pure joy at the truth he has discovered. A truth he already knew.
There is no treasure beyond the ridge; there are only ever more ridges spread out across the land. Each one more dangerous to climb than the last, each one an undiscovered journey. An adventure for the explorer alone.
And the explorer weeps with joy in the knowledge that his journey has only just begun.