Third Hitch Redux

Trail Creek. Sun. Hot, hot, heat. How level does the round really have to be to safely change a flat tire? Late start. Solo hike. Ridges and ridges, climbs and descents. Grouse chicks. Haiku. Hello little hares. Trio of salt-crazed fuzzy fiends in white high-tops. Kindly release my sweaty shirt. And that sock. And the water bottle, too. But there is room in my sleeping bag if you’re interested in a cuddle. Up, up, up. Down, down, down. More water, more sunscreen, more pee breaks. Hello fat toad. So nice to see you again. Such a fine white etching down your bumpy back. Then thunder! Lightning! Rain and rain. Dinner cooked under cover of an outhouse foyer. I mean, that isn’t so unsanitary, right? Just, hey! Don’t let that touch the ground. At all.
Oh, Dutch. They laughed at me in the permit office. Why would you want to go up there? Your trail has officially been wiped off the map, but how the bears adore you. Fresh clumps of fur, swaying in the breeze, decorating every barb. Miniature incarnations. Great flood zones of flattened grasses, huge logs tossed up in loose-root tangles. Silver snags make the best bridges over waters troubled and calm. Bushwhacking through false azalea is like combing through skunk hair. Slip and fall, slip and fall. Five by ten feet is just enough of a patch for one small tent. Hammocks need no even ground. Large beasts wade through lake waters at night, waves lapping against ankles and shoreline. The flash bulbs of lightning, if we’re being honest, do add a creepy onus as you peak out and look toward watery footfalls.
Park Creek. Long days. Many miles. And hair and hair and hair. And oh hey, bear. Good bear. Yes, we hear your huffing, no need to charge. Mountain called Rampage. Mountain called Church. A small cabin in an open meadow. Dinner in the dark. Old striped mattresses sag gently on loose springs. Every roll marked with a metallic whine. Is this a new backpack or a torture device? How much can a hipbone swell before their is true cause for alarm? A forgotten trail. So many downed trees, so many ankle-grabbers, so many stumbles and shin-smacks and flying forward falls, and where’s the trail again? Are bruises contagious? Hello, big grizzly, don’t mind us. Just passing through on the way to…. helloooooo huckleberries! Patches and patches and patches. Fat, shiny purple-black. Small, dusky blue. Two-handed gathering. Hunched backs, fingers and lips stained with juice, one for now, one for later. Nom nom nom. Can’t. Stop. Gathering.

Home again. Dirty and smelly, salt rings expanding. Bruises darkening. Shower and eat. Eat again. Locate bell bottoms. Locate sequins. Its disco time. Night Fever. That DJ, the one with the fake Afro, he will tell you that there are no disco-era Michael Jackson songs. But if you are persistent, and if you are a lady, he will play one for you anyway. You may ask him up to six times. He will do it every time. You are all powerful. Tonight, you are fate itself.

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