My skin tingles and for a moment I feel the lightning before it strikes.
Synapses fire, screaming at my brain and flooding my body with adrenaline.
I flatten myself further into the dirt, too late and to no effect.
The blinding white light explodes onto my retinas while a simultaneous explosion rocks my ear drums.
“Shit that was close,” I hear my mouth say.
I’m lying flat on my face in a copse of small pines on the edge of a high-country meadow. The towering ponderosas to my left are like lightning beacons.
The last summer storm of the year is chasing a cold-front across New Mexico, giving the mountains and those in them one last lashing before the snows fall. The truck – and my rain jacket – are a couple of miles south, two 10,000 foot treeless meadows away.
Another flash crashes close and I ponder briefly the possibility that I have been struck and my brain doesn’t know it yet.
The smell of wet pine needles is overpowering. When the thunder rolls into silence I can hear the hail pinging off of my pack and feel it stinging my skin.
More so than I have been in weeks.