We ate couscous and tuna under a mushroom soup night sky. The fire crackled as we conversed, then tucked into the bright orange pod of a tent and wriggled into our cocoons to pupate until morning.
At about half past Bright & Early, Matt was back out on the lake. I sat on a log and bore witness to the valley’s morning ceremony. The whirring hum of the line as he cast was a rhythmic overtone while the insects buzzed a busy cadence. The birds ranged the vocal scales all between while the sun impressed his own intonation on the whole scene.
Snacking on breakfast goodies and taking down camp, we were quickly on our way back up to the rim. A climb first thing in the morning is Mark Twain’s frog for breakfast. Catching the lip, we were confronted by a sentry. A hummingbird zoomed past our faces, darting and dodging before landing on a large conifer shrub. He watched us intently for a moment before dive bombing off the edge of the cliff in an astounding display of chutzpa.
We ventured on, enjoying the sweeping views of the terrain we had covered the day before. The trail then tucked down into Byers’ armpit. In the moist upper valley (do you taste that imagery?) the trail disappeared, leaving us to pick our own path amoung braiding streams and marshy grass. The geography was straight forward but we got pretty excited to encounter sporadic cairns. Up here it felt like miles from anywhere. We stopped to fill up on water and exchanged dreams of building wilderness bound cabins.
Mid morning Union break completed, we tramped on down along the ever more concentrated stream, singing Tobasco Donkeys songs.
A gradual climb lofted us back up and over the ridge one last time before dropping down a series of switchbacks. As I began to spot the dirt road through the trees, I knew our adventure was coming to an end. I was already well into fantasizing about what I wanted for supper.
Matt and I bombed down the road, talking about rally driving and otherwise wrapping up the topics of the past 24 hours. Pickle was waiting for us at the Byers trail head as Andy and Leda had very kindly brought her up from the Dead Horse Creek trail head to spare us those last few road miles.
Stinky and happy we navigated the back roads toward town and then to Andy and Leda’s. A cloud mass had begun festering over a far rise and by the time the five of us (Matt, Andy, Leda, Hobbes, and I) were tucked back into the house, a wind storm came rampaging across the flats.
Over tasty rolls at the Sushi Bar in Fraser, we brainstormed our next Philmont 2005, TC 4 reunion. That evening we chopped the last of Andy and Leda’s firewood, went for a walk, met some neighbors, then I fell asleep to “Alone in the Wilderness,” a documentary well worth checking out.