Monday, July 23, 2012

Red Tent Times

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 purple overhead.

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 its center.

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 work.

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 do!

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 the ground.

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 burrows.

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.

It was his life until he met her.


  1. Best thing you've written. Thanks.

  2. Rick if this pleases you, can produce such a compliment coming from you... Well, Hey! Life is good my friend! Thanks.

  3. Enjoyed. Good visual thoughts!

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