In my days on the road, when I moved across the country every six months, I thought staying in one place and with one person meant the end of independence. Most people I knew who did this seemed entwined in a way that wasn't acceptable to me. I've always been more independent than most women I have known. It took me forever, but I found someone who lets me breathe, and so I decided to celebrate "Independence Day" in my own way--a solo backpacking trip. (J was on his own biking trip, so he wasn't pitifully left at home.)
I had to work on Friday, so I didn't get to the trailhead until twelve-thirty, a miscalculation, I realized, since temperatures have unreasonably soared into the nineties. I slogged along at a 2 mph pace, wondering how I would ever pull off 20 mile days in the Marble Mountains.
A youth in huge hiking boots caught up to me as I reached Aneroid Lake. I showed him the nice camping spots and he plopped a tent down near mine. That was all right, I thought. He was by himself, and his dogs would keep bears from coming into camp. He was only staying one night, he said, as he set up his tent.
I was filled with the relentless desire to explore, so I headed out for a day hike to see how far up the pass I could get. I soon climbed into a basin that always intrigues me. It is so wide and open and wild. I hardly ever see anyone here.
|Looking toward Tenderfoot Pass.|
I wasn't afraid. I held my breath as it stared back at me. For just a moment, the world stood still. Then the wolf ran across the snowfield and was gone. I felt incredibly lucky to be there at that moment.
I returned to Aneroid Lake, hoping the caretaker of the private cabins was around. Maybe he would have food. Alas, he wasn't, so I returned to my camp for tuna and crackers. But...something was missing! The guy's tent was gone! What had happened, I wondered. He wasn't camped anywhere else along the lake. Had he discovered he had forgotten something? Had the eternal quiet been too much? Sometimes, independence comes with a price.
At any rate, he was gone, the mystery never to be explained. I sat next to my tent and looked out over the lake. Up there, somewhere, wolves roamed.