Wednesday, September 21, 2011

pushing the season

I hold my breath every day until I see the sun blaze over the canyon. I want to bottle up this cinnamon-sweet fall weather and save it against a November, an April. I know I am lucky with every golden day that passes. It could be so different. In my two previous fall seasons here snow has come early, breezing in with the confidence of the self-absorbed.

Not so this year, and I cross my fingers as I head out on my fifteenth backpack trip since May. J pokes fun at my habit of hiking from dawn to dusk, racing the sun, but I feel compelled to drink in as much country as possible. After two years in this mountain range, there is still so much to see. I should draw it out, make it last decades, but I can't seem to do it.

Dark falls early, leaving me hurrying for a campsite. I bargain with the trail: Fifteen more minutes, and then I'll stop. The pass, I'll camp there and listen to the elk bugle (or perhaps the hunters attempts to bugle). Okay if not there, then Bonny Lakes. I'll stop there for sure. But it's still daylight, so maybe...just a bit farther. I end up setting up camp by headlamp, once again.

Pushing the season and I know it: Though the days are still a serene yellow and blue, shirt-and-shorts weather, there was frost in the high meadows of Big Sheep Basin. The nights turn cold like the flip of a switch. Everywhere, signs that the short, glorious summer is nearly over.

This has been a long, spectacular run courtesy of the trail contracts, many miles (hundreds?) starting in the poison ivy and heat of Hells Canyon, climbing down from 5800 feet to 1600 and back up again in one day. Now I am on the tail end, the contractors just about finished. This is what I dreamed of when joining the Firm..paid backpacking, the rarest jewel there is.

I think I have wrung out every golden drop of summer but I am greedy, wanting more. Wanting things to stay the same forever. Never to change, although I know the inevitability.

The nights in the tent are long though, too long, staring at the nylon walls, too tired to read but too awake to sleep. Each morning could be the one the snow falls, irreversible and final. Each morning, so far, it isn't.


  1. Summer is great, but winter? That's pretty awesome too!! Do you backpack in the winter? :) I think I actually prefer it in the snow!!

  2. Happy hiking, Mary. I hope the weather holds for you for a long, long time.
    I agree with Karen about winter. I have not done a lot of winter backpacking but loved those times when I did. This year, I promised myself, I will do more.

  3. Lovely images there in the canyons and the mts, as the trees here turn orange, red, yellow, peach...and it slides toward monochromatic winter. So glad it has been a peak summer season for you.

  4. Oh my! The NeoAir looks AWESOME. I want one. Is it durable enough that it won't pop easily?

  5. Ah Marre love the middle pic. Maybe it is because I got to experience such an incredible view way up there. I'm so glad I was drug up that mountain kicking, screaming, huffing and puffing.It was a hike I never in a million years dreamed of myself doing. It will never be forgotten. You know how to make a friend smile and forget about everything that is bothering them for awhile. Can't wait to be able to hike again with you.


Hello out there. If you liked this post, please leave a comment so I keep writing!