Made it another couple miles into the mountains today. The sun was out all day and the air was mostly still. It didn’t get warm enough for any snow to melt, but it was a nice day for traveling nontheless. Found a nice place to stop for the night. It’s a small clearing with a handful of fir trees lining the western side. There’s a slight breeze, but not much is breaking through the firs. I set up my lean-to and had a fire going before the sun disappeared behind the western ridge.
About 15 minutes after I put the rabbit over the fire, it became obvious I wasn’t the only one who thought it smelled delicious. My visitor never came into the clearing. It crept around in the trees just outside the ring of light from the fire. It paced around slowly for a few minutes, but a loud pop from a piece of wood in the fire must have spooked it because it took off running. Could have just been the dampening effect of the firs, but it almost sounded like it took off on four legs, then changed to two. Lord, let it not be a bear. I don’t need that kind of companion.
The going was considerably rougher today. Found myself walking in a shallow, but increasingly narrowing valley. Instead of my coming out the other side, the valley came to an end where a couple of hilly ranges came together. I had to decide whether to go back and try to find a different way around or to move forward and climb over the impasse. I chose the latter. It was pretty rocky and steep, but I figured it would still be faster than backtracking in the snow and going around.
The sun had set before I reached the top, but I found a nice flat area to make camp. It’s a lot windier up here, but I still got the fire going without much trouble. I couldn’t find any wildlife, so I dipped into my store of jerky for supper.
The critter came back, too. Did the same thing as last night: crept around just beyond where I could see. But I could hear it wandering in the trees and occasionally making little huffing or grunting noises. I’m not sure what it is, but it seems more nosey than anything.
The sun’s not even set yet and the cold is already biting through my clothes. It’s shaping up to be a pretty miserable night. I’m sitting under a giant pine tree. Instead of snow underneath it, there’s a nice bed of soft pine needles. I’d be thrilled if I wasn’t soaking wet. Or more specifically, if my matches weren’t soaking wet.
I saw the tree from a distance and was trying to make my way over to it. In my haste, I failed to notice the frozen, snow-covered stream between it and me. My first step was enough to crack the thin layer of ice. My foot plunged into the water and got stuck in the broken ice. I lost my balance and fell right into it. It wasn’t deep, but I broke through the ice and got completely wet. Unfortunately, my matches were in my front pocket, so they got soaked, too. It’s too cold for anything to dry out, so I’m stuck with my lean-to, a pile of pine needles, and no fire. I’m running low on jerky, but at least I have something.
As far as the critter, it’s getting bolder. After I fell asleep last night and the fire died down, it decided to raid my pack. It was a quick incident, but it certainly wasn’t interested in being sneaky. It raced out of the woods snarling and growling. It must have tried to carry off my pack, which was sitting about five feet from where I set it. I was pretty disoriented, but I got up quickly and the animal took off. I never actually saw it, but it sat in the trees growling for a while. I built up the fire again, making it nice and big. As the area illuminated by the fire grew wider, the animal let out a weird scream and ran off. I didn’t hear it again.
I was hoping it wouldn’t follow me today and that I’d heard the last of it, but that doesn’t appear to be the way my luck is running. Whatever it is, it’s wandering around in the trees, and it sounds closer than it did the last two nights. I don’t have a fire to keep it at bay, and the sky somewhat cloudy, so the moonlight comes and goes.
So here I am: wet, freezing, no fire. And to top it off, I have some sort of animal waiting for me to fall asleep again.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll come upon some sort of town and get away from the woods for a bit.
If I see tomorrow.