I’m spending the night in Alabama Hills, alone. My only accomplices are my thoughts and the blond, brave mouse with large eyes scattering itself back and forth across my campsite. I shone my headlight on it, but instead of running away from the light, it charged towards my feet only to divert right and under my parked Toyota. It had black eyes and a large tufted tail; perhaps it thought it was a lion and not a desert mouse. There is barely any noise here, minus some laughing and chatting of a couple in the distance. They are a different type of alone. They have each other; and I, well, have my petite lion. Otherwise I am alone with my thoughts, the only other passenger alongside me.
There was a brief moment of noise as a helicopter made its way across the moonlit sky, low-hanging like its rumbling belly was going to take the mountain tops clear off. It was loud buzzing and then it was quickly gone as fast as it came. I wondered what all the little fires from the campsites below looked like in its eagle-eye-view. Like pulsating orange embers or faint stairs light years away.
It’s 8pm and I’m already wondering if it’s time to retire for the night. I have my you, my journal, and a few books. I’m just a bit cold, even with the fire I built for myself. I’m refusing to put another log on the fire because of the reason above. My sleeping bag, a 15 degree down from Big Agnes, keeps me sleeping like the dead into the morning. As a woman I worry about being attacked in opportunities like this. I reckon men don’t get the fear quite as often. I stared into the fire and thought about getting a dog to protect me. Also to not make me feel so alone.
I just flipped a log over on the fire and it started back up again, the flames lapping up the dry wood. The engulfing flame was a slender orange with a hot blue edge. I can hear the sap and moisture sizzling within the rings of the trunk. I saved a large piece for the morning. There is something about a morning fire I just enjoy with my coffee. I hope I see the sunrise tomorrow. I’m so thrilled it’s quiet. I don’t miss the sound of the television, the school buses outside my door every week day morning or the random police sirens whirring by that have just become ordinary. Although, I don’t think I can do this alone all the time. I’ve mentioned my solitude a lot; mainly because it bothers me.
I woke up at 2:24 AM to a small, gnawing sound. My lion had let himself into my camper uninvited and was trying to feast on my leftover bean chili. I’m still in shock of how fearless this mouse was (he ended up crawling ON MY HAIR the next night). I opened the doors and deemed that this was when my friend made his daring showman escape into his rightful environment. I ended up clamoring around my new upturned mess for a few more minutes before getting back into bed and falling asleep until 6AM.
The sunrise was just starting and you could see the pinks and golds in the clouds. The rocks and boulders here are like the ones in Joshua Tree. Unlike Joshua Tree, though, they are more like slabs and are in more mountain-like ranges than piles of stone everywhere. And there is no shade. The only refuge you have from the sun and the wind is to follow the shadows of the gigantic stones and stay in their protection when the gusts come through the valley. Luckily this was a day I had a few new and old friends join me. We ended up having dinner, enjoying the warmth of a fire and planning our next adventures. I left the next morning feeling more motivated to keep these excursions with like-minded people going. It’s such a nice feeling to bask in the warmth of company you enjoy; and in the company of people who are thoughtful enough to want to share their lives with yours during a time of year where people can feel the loneliest.