Sometimes it's called a “false summit” because as a climber works his way up the most difficult vertical parts of the ascent, it appears as a horizon with nothing but blue sky and emptiness behind it. When the shoulder is reached however, the climber sees that it is not the summit, but merely an intervening crest which marks the final ascent to the apex.
With 10 days remaining here until both the halfway point of our deployment as well as my 2 week R&R leave, I fell as though I have reached the shoulder of this mountain. The summit is in sight and the ascent is no longer hand over hand and searching for toeholds but walking upright, breathing easier with a clear field of vision.
By the time I take leave, It will have been 8 months since I have seen my wife and I hold no illusions about the hiatus passing slowly, but I wouldn't trade those fleeting moments for the world.
So even if this isn't what Churchill referred to as the beginning of the end, at least I can see it from here.