High Sierras — over Paiute Pass to Paiute Creek
And so it begins, into the wilderness…
I enjoy the water. Seeps, sloughs, potholes, creeks, streams, ponds,
lakes. Water running over stones is irrepressibly cheerful.
Colors are super-saturated. Blue over a ridge-top is so intense I need
sunglasses to look it in the eye. And the white of the snow, and the
green of the pines. Russet bark and golden-yellow wood.
And the flowers, also intensely colored, but miniature. Tiny lupines,
pussytoes and sedum, currants, columbine and strawberry, and many,
many more I know, but can’t identify. Purple, yellow, white, red,
orange. Every tuft a miracle of survival – exuberant, joyful survival.
And butterflies, tiny blue, tiny orange ones flit down the path in
front of me. Bigger yellow and black ones, like pale, half-sized
swallowtails, watch me from the side.
At the first snowbank I build a little snowman, maybe two feet high.
On the other side of the pass, the pastures of Humphrey’s Basin are
dotted with boulders like sheep in a meadow. White on green, little
lambs, bigger ewes and huge rams.
I almost forgot to mention the stars… stars upon stars upon stars.
Every square inch of sky brighter, dimmer, blue-white, orange-red.
Shooting stars, or still, tiny satellites circling before them. The
whole sky pulsing and spinning. A countless, breathtaking,
incomprehensible profusion of stars, and we are but one.