Every night, there comes a point at which I awake in the dark, hearing something moving about outside the tent. Being in the dark, in the tent, alone, sounds are amplified and warped, so it’s almost impossible to tell what size or how close such beasties are. A squirrel can sound like a prowling bear. (I have yet to find out if a bear can sound like a squirrel; if one has done so, I’m glad I don’t know about it.) As I type this at about 3:45am, something large (as indicated by the cracking branches) just went slowly by, pausing near the tent before moving on. I’m guessing it was a deer based on the gait, but the animal fear that crops up is always unnerving.
That particular phenomenon I wrote about early this morning is interesting as tonight, I’m holed up at the Fish Lake Resort, the kind of fisherman’s camp that would not be out of place in a Garrison Keillor monologue. (It has “rustic” cabins and a kind of combination gift shop/bait shop/store/diner that sells fishing gear, Native American crafts [which seems only appropriate, as I had to hike over Dead Indian Memorial Road to get here; ought to give them a little nod, I guess], cooler-appropriate snacks, and “men’s books,” which mostly appear to be 30-year-old spy novels.) My cabin was clearly hastily retrofitted with a wee refrigerator from the ’50s, a hot plate, a cheap Formica apartment-sized dining table, and a sink with only a cold-water spigot that is plainly a repurposed hose bib. I don’t have my own bathroom; the showers are coin operated; and I could spend the evening and not finish cataloging the code violations. But after days in 23 square feet and four feet of headroom, it’s paradise. I’ve washed myself and my clothes in the sink (don’t ask what I’m wearing while they dry…) and am drinking copious amounts of bad coffee while sitting in an actual chair with actual cushions. And a bed of sorts awaits. Amazing.
I pushed something over 30 miles in the past two days, which isn’t great but is a big deal for me; I may take another day here to recuperate (especially given that there’s meant to be rain tomorrow) and let the legs and feet and back and shoulders and every other part heal a bit. Today included quite a lot of crunching through great swaths of volcanic boulders: huge courses of tumbled black stones flowing like calcified rivers down amongst the trees, with just cinder paths cutting across them. These seem to be ideal homes for huge wolf spiders that spring off as you scrabble past them, put off their hunt for the giant black ants that have been so prevalent since I arrived in this state.
Partway through the day, I made it to the South Brown Mountain Shelter, a small cabin set up mainly for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. It was built in the old style: log beams, heavy timbered walls, and dominated by a huge wood stove from the dawn of metalworking. It even had a hand pump for water. It was a charming spot to stop before the long, long tramp of the afternoon began.
It’s getting close to time to climb into that nearly actual bed. (I think it’s some kind of futon on a frame, but I admit to being a bit afraid to check it too closely.) May we all enjoy our amenities this night.
Yesterday’s water source.
Hills upon hills.
The South Brown Mountain Shelter.
Rivers of stone.
Mt. McLaughlin, quite a bit closer than before. (Thanks to those who helped identify it.)