28 September 2009

Camping, as for a night

25 Sept 09

1650: Standing in formation with service dress, service cap, and white gloves, I eye the sun and the mountains: will I make it up before dark?

1730: I walk across the tizo towards the mountains. I realize I can hardly feel my pack on my back, its design and fit are so good. Looking up, I see the sun has already sunk behind the silhouette of the front range. Again I wonder: will I make it up before dark? 2,000 vertical feet to go.

1751: Passing the Lawrence Paul pavilion; I haven't even reached the trailhead. The sweaty parts of my shirt are cold - it's about 55 degrees.

I haul it up the trail, pausing only to consider my route. I decide that while 501's and Red Wings are great for building houses and shovelling stalls, they aren't so great for climbing mountains. I eat two half-size Clif bars, wondering if I should have brought more food.

1815: I begin to see aspens. I've made good time.

1830: I arrive in the Aspen Grove. The last rays of the sun hit the backside of Eagle's Peak. I debate going up there to see the sunset, but decide that setting up camp is more important.

Once camp is set up, dusk has settled. I grab the Jetboil and my dinner of a beef stick and just-add-boiling-water pasta and head off to cook it.

While the pasta cooks, I hear voices down the grove. But when I go down to hang up my bear bag, I call a few helloes and get no response, save a very loud echo. I realize that the voices are the USAFA command center. It's a quiet night.

Heading back to camp, the moon casts my shadow on the ground behind me. It's eerie, being up here alone. I get into my sleeping bag, then into my hammock, thinking I won't need my sleeping pad: it won't be that cold.

26 Sept 09

0000: It is that cold. I wake up because my toes are freezing. I root around for the gloves that I stuck in my bag for the morning and put them over my feet. Now I can sleep.

0640: Opening my eyes suddenly, I see that it's light outside. After a brief self-motivation session, I wriggle out of my sleeping bag and pull on Under Armour, shirt, and sweatshirt, followed by jeans and boots. I cannot feel my toes, and my feet are numb.

I hike to the peak, a few more hundred feet up. It's windy up there. I take a few pictures and make my way back down.

I realize I'm not headed for my camp, take stock of my surroundings, and re-adjust. My new route takes me through a lot of aspens. I like it.

By the time I reach camp, I'm pretty warm. I make and eat grits as I take down and pack.

0930: I return to the squad, getting a few inquisitive looks since most have already headed down to the game and I look like I just walked off a mountain. I shower, pull on my blues, and catch a ride with one of our firstie girls and her best friend. They talk about boys the whole way down. I'm quiet.

The woods usually make me quiet.

"We no longer camp as for a night, but have settled down on earth and forgotten eternity." - Henry David Thoreau

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