I just noticed I've been writing in this book upside down from the back so I turned it over and started at the other end.
I got up and the sun was high again today. I don't know if its the altitude or the cold, but I've sure been doing some sleeping. I breakfasted on canned green beans, mashed potatoes, and Knorr's Mushroom Hunter gravy. I have a big canister of the gravy mix and it has chunks of dried mushrooms. Its very good and the 'shrooms rehydrate nicely. I'll have to remember that. I found it in the trunk of my old Oldsmobile. I've never seen it in the stores. I hope they still make it.
Maya and I walked down the track we're camped on to Forest Road 147. It was only a few hundred yards. Maybe a quarter mile give or take. Her feet are improving, yet tender. We stuck to the trees and walked on the thick, soft, pine needles. She wanted to go farther, but I noticed her react if she stepped on rocks so we'll have to wait a bit before we do any real hiking.
We returned to camp and I polished off a can of yams before napping from three to six. I wonder how long before I get used to this thin air. It doesn't seem to affect Maya, but she doesn't smoke like I do. We're above 7,000 feet up here. I had to turn my lighters up to get them to work properly.
Dinner was soups. Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Celery. Smoked my last cigarette and picked some Mullein. Mullein makes a decent tobacco substitute in a pinch. The herb books say that smoking it is actually good for the lungs. The trick to smoking Mullein is to remove the veins in the leaves. That makes it taste much better. I'm carrying a few dozen packs of rolling papers.
Just before the sun went down, we were serenaded by three different Ladderback woodpeckers. I hope they are eating Bark Beetles. With the drought, the beetles have wiped out a lot of the trees. At night, I can hear the click click click as the beetles munch away. During the day you can see patches of rust throughout the forest where the trees have died. We hit the sack at nine and within a half hour there was an elk barking within feet of our tarp. It's another cold night. My breath has been visible since dusk.
Again the sun was high when we crawled out of the tarp. I hiked up the ridge to the northwest with Maya. We were scouting the area for a place to retreat for the upcoming weekend where we might be seen by less people, and not visible from the road. I guessed I could wait another day to fetch more water. Maya was looking and walking well, but I didn't want to walk her down the rough gravel roads to the lake. I cooked spaghetti at about four o'clock.
At about seven, I followed last night's fresh elk track up the ridge behind us and found the fresh elk himself. He was a young fellow, and had four points still in velvet. Maya was riveted, and the creature allowed us to watch it for a bit before crashing away through the brush. That was her first sighting and she learned the word elk that night.
We climbed down and had a dinner of macaroni and mozzarella with tomato sauce. Afterward, I reconfigured the tarps to be tighter and warmer. By time I finished, the first three stars of the night were out and we heard coyotes in the distance. An hour later, as I was pulling the last pot of coffee of the night off the fire, we heard an elk bugling. This wasn't the same sound as the warning barks we had been hearing. It was similar to the sound a pool hose makes if you swing it over your head.