We continued on through bunchgrass and stubble, then into scrub pine and garry oak, pass cattle ranches and trailer parks, and eventually slipped into unbroken pine. We were low on gasoline but it was too late to turn around, not if we were to reach campground before dusk. Did we have enough fuel to get out?

“Well, that will be all downhill,” I said, even though I was jumping or flying off the handle at every bump.

Todd hoped to camp at timberline, calculated twilight, the gas tank, tires, rocky lane, and the red powder covering car, nearly said the hell with it, let’s not pitch tent but head for a motel. Instead, according to plan, we both sleep soundly, having an entire campground to ourselves. Only later did I hear that rattlesnakes thrive in here.

In the morning, hiking at the timberline, we collected elk bones — vertebrae, mostly. As the crown of the great mountain floated six thousand feet above, we heard rumbling icefalls and boulders breaking loose from the glaciers. Echoes glinted off the sun-melt trickle. I gathered sprigs and stones for her textiles. To the south, urging me to trying reaching out to touch its flight, Mount Hood soared into a lens cap cloud. The morning air, an ethereal blue vapor, turned icy mountains into silky threads. What I thought was rock and snow instead revealed nude shimmering before our eyes. Elation glowed. The wonder in my eyes reflects happiness.

For more of the story, click here.



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