Laying awaken in the tent early last night after just dozing a bit, I started to think that I hated this and couldn’t wait to get back to town. It’s been a while since I felt that. I chalk it up to controllable tiredness, because right now, waiting for my tea to cool enough to drink, I love being here.
Walking up the trail bring previous trips to mind. Carrying far too much food and water in the Wind Rivers solo and then with Jimmy. Backpacking for days in Nepal. The one other night out backpacking Emily and I have had since we moved here, up at Tull Canyon. The overnight Jimmy and I did to attempt Mt Stuart about a year ago. They were all different from this, which is the first time I’ve backpacked and climbed with a small group and Emily’s first time on an overnight climb.
They bring to mind two thoughts. First, I look back fondly on each of those and couldn’t imagine living without having done each of them and without planning to do more as long as I’m able. As much as we temper the wildness of the wilderness — with four-season tents, layers of technical clothing, light gear, GPS, a Kindle to read inside a bag stuffed with treated down — it’s the wildness here that is missing from regular life. The goat that visited camp yesterday, the bright red salamander I missed at the last creek crossing and the thrilling peaks surrounding us need to be seen and felt. Being out overnight, away from home for longer than a few hours on a day hike is the only way to see some of it and the only way to push thoughts of home and work away long enough to appreciate it.
Second, and more simply, a trip like this, just a simple overnight, would have involved a week off work and four days round-trip driving from home in Chicago 18 months ago. Now it’s a weekend with local friends from the SAR team. That is pretty amazing.
So am I scared, tired and yearning for a few hours on the couch to relax and be comfortable before work starts at 0630 tomorrow? Yeah. What can you do. I can’t be happy without pushing past those feelings, which come and go to different extents on different trips. That makes me admittedly abort-centric, not just for safety reasons, not just because I know the mountains will always be here, but mostly because until I get home I sometimes really want to be on my way there.
But you should have seen the blindingly white moonlight around 0100 when I got up to find a backroom rock. And the moonlit shadow of prayer flags from inside the tent. What a place to spend the night.