Pine tree tops
In the blue night
frost haze, the sky glows
with the moon
pine tree tops
bend snow-blue, fade
into sky, frost, starlight.
The creak of boots.
Rabbit tracks, deer tracks,
what do we know.
- Gary Snyder
Awaking slowly from a heavy rest to the calm sounds of wind & rain occupying the wilderness, I was so happy to be out in that wet October weather. After gathering my mind & catching up on yawns, I quietly slipped out of my warm sleeping bag & back into my boots for the day. I realized that we were completely socked in with fog around the ridges of Cloud Splitter. I grabbed for a granola bar that I had been looking forward to eat for the past 24 hours. I also reached for my camera & then slowly trekked down the short pine needle covered trail leading off onto the sandstone ridge for a beautiful breakfast view.
Shortly after, Geraldine had awoken & joined me for views of deep rolling fog escaping the landscapes below. We sat down on a large sandstone ridge & prepared our coffee & tea, there is nothing better than sipping on a hot beverage in the mountains on a cool-rainy October morning. I mean nothing compares, not one thing.
After wrapping up our relaxing morning on Cloud Splitter, we broke down the tent & packed up. It was time to start the new days adventure, we felt good & inspired with some questioning concerns still lingering about our new friend Cody, with his unplanned departure from the mountains the rainy night before (He is okay & well). As we made our descent down the ridge, we made a stop to the cave crevasse opening that exists about 40-50 feet below the top of Cloud Splitter. It was a fun time climbing into the cave & it holds an amazing"picture view window" scene from the inside peering into the autumn landscape & arches. Once we finally reached the forest floor, I directed us towards the stream I had went to yesterday with Cody for some more fresh stream water. After we filled up our bottles & shared some dried veggies, we were on a mission to find home for the night.
After arriving to our second camp spot for the night, me & Geraldine split apart to collect firewood, dry brush, pine needles (camp poppers) & anything else that could hold a flame. The rainfall wasn't a constant, but the moisture sure as hell was. We set up camp in a military-timed fashion & had harvested three hours worth of wood & kindle just the same. The daylight had fallen extremely early that day, reminding us that winter was just weeks away. With a fire going & camp setup, we relaxed & started planning our deliciously awaited dinner for that night. Geraldine knows how to pack & keep people feed, that's for sure (on our first camping trip together, she brought a dozen warm authentic-tamales with her. That's some seriously spiritual shit while eating in front of a mountain view in the company of friends). This time it was diced red potatoes, carrots, onions, rosemary & garlic. I had a pound bag of rice left to add to the mix which was perfect, we wrapped up our dinner mixture in some foil & threw it on the fires embers. While dinner was cooking, we reflected on the past 72 hours & were probably talking about food too much. Once the rice was done boiling in my Stanley, Geraldine slowly & epically unveiled our feast for the night. I have to say, at that moment that was one of the best sights I'd seen that day. After finishing up that life changing meal, the rain was really starting to pick up so we decided that our night would come to an end & we would waddle our content full tummies over to the tent & pass out. I'm sure I was the first to go.
The next morning came & just like the night before, we were awoken with the calm rainfall sounds on the tent roof. I hopped up & put my boots & jacket on, then I took a leak that I wish the "Guinness World Record" staff were present for, it had to have been at least 5 minutes long. Geraldine woke up before I made it back to our campsite. After relieving myself, I decided to hike towards the ridge to see what beauty there was to be found. Boy did I find it, the families of conifers having wind fueled conversation & the overwhelming waves of fog crashing into the red & green tree lines made for reassuring company.
Once I made my way back to camp, we packed up for the last time. We set off into the golden brush & down the slick face of Indian staircase. We were enjoying this last leg of trail & were taking advantage of the last bit of experience to be had by stopping for photos, smelling moss & pines & filling up at several water streams. Mainly for another excuse to stay in the forest as long as possible that day. Once we reached "Hank" the jeep, we settled our packs in & snacked on more pumpkin seeds & apples before getting back on the cold pavement to head for home. There is a certain excitement that comes over you once you've returned to the "Trailhead" or "Car" after an adventure. But there is NO bigger excitement that consumes us more than when we first depart from the trailhead or car, the adventure has only begun at that point.
All images shot with Kodak Portra 160 film.