Still a touch bedraggled from a week of sleeping on the ground with the bugs in the San Juan Islands, Adam nevertheless cheerfully joined me for this walk which I’d been saving myself up for (don’t fail me now, feet) and by the end of the day we’d meandered twelve enjoyably convoluted miles over the ruggedest kind of parkland. He’s such a good sport, part of me worried I totally bamboozled him back at the house as to particulars of the journey but never a single time did he complain so I won’t bother humorously kvetching here about the sticky, preternaturally coagulated, titaniumized mass of formerly chocolate mints which had spilled then moltenized in his rucksack, that will require industrial sandblasting for removal lest a trail of fresh-breathed ants find their way out of the closet under the stairs to let the entire colony know about the chocolatier offering free samples.
This is unique backcountry at the mountain pass above our town, an exceptional place to wander artistic cracks and hollows in rock gardens of tangled elfin trees and heather. After scooting an absentminded vole off the path and admiring curiously uncurious pikas and other small mammals of the subalpine we climbed over dinner-plate and Yugo-sized felsenmeer to a mountaintop where we signed the summit register containing soggy papers but which left us sunny inside. Halfheartedly attempting a sketch of the complicated basin below us, Adam folded his pencil box shut (not before losing a brown #5 in the rocks) in favor of more chocolate and listened with me to the sounds of quiet. For the descent we followed interminable contours into crannies, crossing parklike meadows down the mountainside into forest at dusk where we listened to the chattiest owl in bird history, shortly thereafter making the acquaintance in the dark of one Recently Retired Rodney of Ellensburg (where he has lived all his life excepting a brief spell in Denver) who having spent the week on the Pacific Crest Trail commencing some seventy miles north and having detoured to some hot springs for a soak and having made a laborious ascent earlier that morning via wickedly overgrown trail, was gladder than glad to see us and join in the owl fun. A delightful companion for the remainder of the walk, we gave him a ride (told you he was glad to see us) to the petrol station across from the ski hill in order that he could wait for his friend taxi from Ellensburg on the other side of the crest, putt-putt-putt. Maybe buy himself a chocolate bar? He deserved it.