South San Juan Wilderness 2003
High, Wild and Windy
Monday, September 15 Whew, what a night. Like sleeping alongside frequently used railroad tracks. The wind would just howl for a while, and then stop, and then you could hear it coming and then feel the blast against the tent. Even though we had a bit of shelter from the trees, I was very glad that we were sleeping in a four-season tent. We had spent just about 12 hours in the tent, and it had warmed up during the night: freezing in the early evening, but about 40 degrees by day break. Everyone sorta staggered out of their tents in the morning, with the universal expression being that they had "survived" the night. The "breeze" had already picked up this morning, but it did look like another gorgeous day. The plan for the day was to have Tim catch tons of fish for dinner, while the rest of us goofed off. Susie and I, after a breezy breakfast, headed out on a little day hike, first towards some small lakes and ponds that are northeast of Green Lake, but do not show up on a topo map as being something other than a marsh. One of the things we kept marveling at was the number of pine cones on the tops of the trees. From a distance, it looks like all the tree tops are dying, turning brown. But when you get up close, you realize that the bounty of cones is enough to change the apparent color of the trees.
After studying the ponds in hopes of seeing some fish that might have been in need of harvesting by Tim, we dropped XC to the trail that begins to head NW of Green Lake, getting a few nice views. Getting our fill, we turned SW, and headed through open woods to the meadows that are east of Green Lake, and found a sheltered spot for lunch. Golly, it was actually warm in the sun. Must have been having a hot flash or a heat wave! This also gave us an opportunity to scout the trail for the next day's hike. To say that the "trail" is a bit obscure across the meadow is an understatement. However, if you pay attention to rock cairns, and look at how the route is headed (up against the wall to the SE of Green Lake, and then steeply up the nose of the wall, near13S, 359982 Easting, 4116046 Northing), it should not be a problem actually climbing out of the cirque.
We got back to camp in early afternoon. Tim had indicated that there were horse folks over on the lake, and during a point where the wind died down enough when I was communing with nature back in the woods west of camp, I heard some voices. I went over to see who it was and it was a couple of fellows and a young boy. One of the guys was a horse packer on a "busman's holiday" with some friends from Dallas. Being from the Red River area (near Taos, NM), he was not licensed for commercial trips in Colorado, but that did not prevent him from taking his friends up here and having a good time. The younger of the two men was talking on his satellite phone when I walked up. He got off, and said that they called their families a couple times a day, just to let them know that they were OK. I was sure glad I did not feel that need. We talked a long time, as they asked a lot of questions about backpacking equipment. (I think they marveled at the fact that we carry enough gear on our backs to be self sufficient for a week at a time.) While we were talking, the young boy, probably about 7, caught a nice brook trout. He was so proud. Especially when I told him that he was out-fishing our friend Tim, who was getting skunked so far. Well, later in the afternoon, after Susie and I were cleaned up and we were sitting in the shelter of one of the tents, the horse packers were getting ready to leave, and the little boy came over to me, obviously hiding something behind his back. He asked me if I was familiar with a couple of people whom he named. I told him I was not, and he looked at me disappointedly and said, "C'mon, don't you know this song?" and he started singing the song with the line in it: "Give me the beat, boys, that frees my soul....." and so I say: "...I wanna get lost in your rock and roll and drift away ...." (Lord, I felt like "Dueling Banjos in the Rockies!") "Yeah," he said, that the woman that was married to one of the guys that sang the song had made this spicy jerky, and he was going to give us the rest of the bag that he had. We thanked him profusely, and commented what a wonderfully well-behaved young man this kid was. And wow, the jerky was spicy, to be sure, but it was terrific, and before I could blink, the 8 of us had consumed it!
A little after 5, we started working on dinner, after Andy announced that the official high for the day was 52 degrees - it must have been a hot flash in the sun at lunch! After dinner, the wind died down some, so we thought we would take a chance on building a fire. We kept it pretty small, and it did require some management, but it was nice to burn up some trash, and have a conversation area. But it did not keep us up for long, and by 7:45 pm, we all were in bed. And of course, the wind started to pick up again.
© Roger A. Jenkins, 2003; Little boy photo © Andrew P. Butler, 2003