We meant to take it easier, find a shortish hike and head back to camp for leisure time. But our memory of Chicken Foot Lake toward the end of the Mosquito Flats Trail pulled us another six or seven miles and all along that stretch of ridiculously pristine mountain glory we talked and talked and forgot about our aching knees and the idea of rest. The cheddar and pear pie we’d had for late breakfast at Pie in the Sky (because they run out by noon; it really is that good) carried us until we broke out a lazy little lunch and a giant beer to split and fed pepitas to wild mouse / bunny hybrid animals and felt dirty and happy like you only can after days of wearing out your body. Back at camp, the moon was just this tiny finger nail clip over the range and all the stars had the night to themselves to howl out from the cosmos. “Is that the milky way?” we kept asking each other, because when was the last time we found darkness deep enough to see that? And when I’d wake up to pee in the middle of the night — that dreaded cold black walk to the woods when the whole world is silent and crouched, waiting — I’d stare up at them again. Thinking maybe I dreamed a few of the layers, a few of these quilts and nets and pools of lights tangled up into each other like headlights in some traffic jam, a million light years away.
It was so good to get away together. To be exhausted by earth and brought low at the majesty of rocks older than the oldest tress; older than dinosaurs even. It was a chance, in the modern world of instant communication and opinion and offense, to look up at that breathtaking shine of stars and galaxies of stars so bright and so limitless and know “I am nothing, I am nothing, I am nothing.”