19 ~ June 2022
I had picked out a ridge with rock outcroppings from topo maps and google earth, and on the ground bushwhacked towards it using my gps pointer to direct us. That is the kind of place I always like to camp, up high, with a view. The only problem is you have to find a water source or it doesn’t work. A ridge camp often entails hiking all the way down into a valley as the first thing, then carrying the water back up. That is what I did this time, but fortunately the hike down on the north side of the ridge was not that far. I found a stream, then filled my blue open sided flexible bucket all the way back up. You can be sure I was very careful not to trip when scrambling over downed trees. Later, after about an hour after setting up camp, I went out to the rock outcropping edge to check out the view. I found a panhole in the rock that was filled with more water than we needed, only 150 feet from where my tent was!
It wasn’t until the cool of the evening and two naps that I recovered from hiking on the midday heat. With our energy restored, us four did a lot of exploring then, all the way until 9pm dark. I rediscovered several Calypso orchids, which is one of the reasons I go to this part of the mountains every midJune. I also got some good photographs of a yellow Senecio, Elderberry, Baneberry, and Twinflower, all in bloom.
I left the rain and wind fly off the tent, which I have not done in years. I don’t think I have ever left it off as high as we were - 9500 feet. Without the rain fly my tent has mesh on all four sides at the top, and I could look out and see the pines, the early evening stars, and later after 11pm the moon which rose in the southeast. The angle of the moon was so far south just a few days from the summer solstice that it had a yellow tinge all night, from haze and dust in the atmosphere.
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I slept really well, which is the blessing from how I have improved my health since retirement six years ago. (no caffeine, no alcohol, no sugar). I still felt a little apprehensive as night fell, from being in a new area, and not knowing what kinds of critters might be around. Bears have personalities like all animals, and sometimes I wonder if I might inadvertently come across an aggressive one. When let Beau out of the tent at 1:30 am, he rushed out and barked 6 or 7 times. I feel a lot more secure in the backcountry with him around, and he is probably the reason we are rarely bothered by wild animals. Looking out of the tent at 4am last week and seeing eyeshine was an exception.
In the early morning there were slight breezes blowing, that I could feel through the mesh openings in the tent. The peace of listening to the wind in the branches of the tall Ponderosa Pine was a rare gift, that I thoroughly enjoyed. Life is about change, but you hang on to moments like this, in the wilderness, with my three border collies sleeping around me.
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“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"