The wind had picked up again, leaves and debris in the air, the
trees bent against their will. He had been at it for most of the
day. He figured he must be pretty close to his destination.
Going up the ravine on a gradual, steady assent from the north
and almost to what he thought must be the pass, he stopped every once in
a while to turn around and look back into the Silverton Valley. The headwaters
of the Animas River, in one of the most patchwork
rugged terrains of granite, pine, spruce and then aspen, which gave way again
to ice-cut granite. Again, he stopped in admiration of this beautiful
vista, and to catch his breath.
Such a contrast. So majestic. The sky also seemed to have
been painted by nature’s paintbrush, from the cut edge ridges straight to deep
He went over another rise and then he saw it - Silver Lake,
set in the basin of this high plateau basin with five of the fourteen thousand
footers in Colorado
now surrounding him. Five, like a star. The Silver Lake
Leaving the ridge top and now entering the basin, the wind had
died down as he descended towards the lake. All was still now, an
almost perfect quiet. Marmots, their world infrequently invaded by
the two- legged buggers, scurried into their burrows to pout.
He stopped short of the lake and surveyed the place where he
would make camp, ensuring that, according to the sun’s path, he would be able
to see the sunset and wake to the sunrise. Both a must!
He saw it then, clear as a chart with a diagram. Always a
stickler for the important things in life, he walked directly to the cleared
area. He double-checked the views to the east and then the west and then he
dropped his back pack.
First things first, he went straight, as straight is in granite
cut stone, toward the grove of spruce and pine. With the rope he had tied
around his waist, he collected more firewood than he needed, but all he wanted,
for he knew of the sudden chill of evening and the downright cold of the night.
With the load on his back, he returned and dropped it where he could do his
With his handheld axe, he quickly splintered the tender he would
need in the evening and if need be, in the morning to kick start it again. He
set the longer pieces between two granite stone blocks and snapped them in half
with a shape kick. Looking at the pile, he decided to get a few more thick
pieces. Returning, he placed them with the others, and decided, OK, this should
Now the tent! He would want it to face east so he could draw the
zipper back and watch the sunrise. Accordingly, he began clearing and leveling
Taking the carryall from his pack, he set out again to the pine
and spruce grove to get a load of needles to make a bed. A second and third
trip ensured he had enough of nature’s best needles. Once his bed was
completed, he laid spread-eagled on it to test it for comfort. Spongy, he
thought to himself. Nice.
The sun dropping toward the western sky, he arranged the fire
and put everything in order with his jacket and hat on the awning of his tent.
As he took a couple of steps back to admire his work, he
suddenly recalled a childhood jingle and changed the words to fit. He started
singing out loud, ‘Little red rented red tent. Little red rented red tent,
Ain’t much better than no tent but at least it’ll keep you dry, dry, dry. At
least it will hopefully keep you drrrrry.’ The marmots scurried back into their
Well! Double-check time while it’s light! Fire, lighter ,
kindling, wood. Dinner - steak, corn, potatoes all wrapped and ready.
Water. Lots of water. Plate, fork, knife. Good! Breakfast - coffee,
cream, cup. Everything sealed, he set it all inside the tent and zipped it.
He looked at a ridge which was about five hundred yards away
from his campsite. He walked to it singing, “Little red rented row boat, little
red rented row boat. Ain’t much better than no boat, but at least it’ll go and
row, row, row. At least it’ll go and row, row, row, row, rooooow,” and sat to take in the view of the
Animas Valley running all the way down to Durango, and out through the mesa
towards Arizona in the west to eventually reach the Pacific.
Behind him was the Continental divide where, just over that
ridge, all the precipitation goes to the east and reaches the Atlantic via the Gulf, probably refilling at one the BP
platforms sucking the natural lubricants from mother nature.
But now he gazed towards the west again. The solitude had always
waited patiently for him to return. He leaned back on a slab of
granite which had a natural back rest.
Let the show begin. Sunset, stars like you have never seen.
A beautiful sunrise to wake up to.