Thursday, August 30
It is a bit after 11:00 pm. The camp ground is completely silent, save the crackle and occasional pop of our campfire. Elk Meadow, one of the more than forty California State Parks designated to protect what remains of the redwood trees, is the kind of place where I would gladly make home for a while.
Everyone has complied with the Quite after 10 rule, in fact, Colleen and I were likely the ones making the most ruckus, our Toyota Prius engine kicking on every twenty minutes to compensate for my DC/AC inverter and laptop. I admit to confusion when I say that I should be able to run my laptop for a few days if it were providing power via the drive train battery pack rather than the starter. Wishing Toyota would provide a manual switch and digital readout to allow me to make that choice. For as much as I enjoy the mileage, there are myriad things I would change about this car, that rant saved for another essay.
Colleen and I roasted corn over the fire, and in aluminum foil a sauté of potatoes, zucchini, onion, crushed black pepper and garlic. The result, all three times we have prepared this meal in the past five weeks, was splendid. Everything tastes good outside, everything is appreciated more. Even the simplest of meals, boiled carrots, snap peas, and rehydrated Shitake mushrooms over Raman noodles is a welcomed delight.
Friday, August 31
It has been difficult for us to take it all in. When one walks from a valley to a mountain top, the transition unfolds in the count of hours, not minutes as in a vehicle. Even then, we find that just a few hundred meters on a trail took us from the dark, cool shade of a massive coniferous forest with dense undergrowth to a barren saddle and bold stacks topped with countless flowering heads. At the pace of our own feet, we were often caught breathless, not for the pace at which we hiked nor the elevation gained, but for the rapid transition from one magical wonderland to the next.
But now we again move at high velocities, those same valley to mountain transitions unfolding in a matter of minutes, entire ecosystems lost to the rear view mirror in the matter of an hour. It’s overwhelming in a whole new way, for what we experience from the air conditioned, closed cab of our earth-bound spaceship is via a single sense, our vision. No aroma of recently fallen pine needles or fresh scat left by a passing bear. No sound of the wind high in trees nor stream underfoot. No more breaking of fallen branches by a deer down slope. No longer do we taste the ash of too many fires in Washington and Canada to the north.
Now, we hear only the tires on the road covered by audio books and music, the smell of unburnt diesel as trucks pass, and the taste of whatever we ate last, a return to food less invocative as that which we enjoyed on the trail.