Cold Mountain Heights

Waterton Lakes National Park
Aug. `73

I was getting ready to continue my hike when a whole group of
hikers (at least twenty) took over my shelter. I was glad to hear
that this was their destination. I wouldn’t run into them farther down
the trail. After I left the shelter, I met a group of four hikers, but
I was alone when I arrived at Lone Lake. I planned on spending the
night there, but after I took in the last three hours of warm
sunshine, I started to get scared. I was too high up. The thought of
turning into an ice cube got to me. I headed for the lakes ten miles
down the trail. What I didn’t know at the time was that the trail
followed the mountain ridges and the highest pass was yet to come.

When I broke out of the trees I saw what looked like a volcanic
crater. At the rim, the trail disappeared over the edge. The incline
going up to the rim was the worst I had ever experienced, not to
mention that the hike was made twice as hard by the gusting winds and the loose mountain dirt that I had to trudge through. During the wind gusts, I was breathing dirt, but at that altitude it felt more like
dry ice. My mouth, nose, and throat, by the time I reached the summit, were raw. I was too exhausted to appreciate the view, but on the other side of the rim, I was glad to see that the trail dropped off into a huge valley. By the time I had reached the tree line on the other
side, I was physically sick. I had been sweating, and by then I was
chilled to the bone. Although there was no hunting in the park, I
found what looked like a deer pole strung between two trees. I was too
sick to continue, so after I drank my fill of water from the stream (I
forgot to fill my canteen) I started gathering wood–lots of firewood.

I felt better after I had changed into warm dry clothes. Eating a
mixture of hot rice and powdered eggs while standing in front of a
soon to be raging campfire helped in that regard, also. It was getting
dark and I had to face my coldest night yet. While I was getting wood,
four deer, three four-pointers and a six-point, meandered into my
campsite. Just like before, the deer did not seem to be afraid. The
velvet was still on their antlers. I guess I was the guest in their
meadow.

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About bwinwnbwi

About me: Marvin Gaye’s song, "What’s Going On" was playing on the jukebox when I went up to the counter and bought another cup of coffee. When I got back, the painting on the wall next to where I was sitting jumped out at me, the same way it had done many times before. On it was written a diatribe on creativity. It was the quote at the bottom, though, that brought me back to this seat time after time. The quote had to do with infinity; it went something like this: Think of yourself as being in that place where infinity comes together in a point; where the infinite past and the infinite future meet, where you are at right now. The quote was attributed to Hermann Hesse, but I didn’t remember reading it in any of the books that I had read by him, so I went out and bought Hesse’s last novel, Magister Ludi. I haven’t found the quote yet, but I haven't tired of looking for it either.
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7 Responses to Cold Mountain Heights

  1. jgavinallan says:

    Sometimes you write so sweetly and beautiful. I remember some of your descriptions.
    You write lovely things.
    Even when you wrote about heartbreak you showed strength and patience…and good description

    Jaye

  2. eof737 says:

    This is lovely, and thankfully no more violence awaits you. 😳 😉

  3. bwinwnbwi says:

    Thanks for all the kind words! Take care.

  4. Mèo Lười Việt says:

    Looked like deer pole strung between 2 trees…

    ?! Sounds picturesque and familiar. Do I guess it right?!

    • bwinwnbwi says:

      Just in case you didn’t guess right; a deer pole–for people who hunt deer, is a pole hung laterally so that when somebody hunts and kills a deer they have a place to string the deer up in order to keep it safe from predators (hunters sometimes camp in groups). When I was young, I did hunt deer with my father and older brother. I shot at a buck once but I was glad to discover that I didn’t hit it. The hunting experience, in my family, was considered a right of passage of sorts.Thanks for the comment.

  5. Mèo Lười Việt says:

    Hunted deer with your father when you were young?!

    Sounds familiar too. You know, sometimes I “meets” some people at the 1st time and my sixth sense tells me st but after that I tell myself that’s just a nonsense thought, a product of my wild imagination…

  6. bwinwnbwi says:

    The pole between the two trees was not a deer pole, although that was a good guess by me. The purpose of the pole was to separate bears from backpacks–check out the next post.

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