Posted by: highmountainmuse | August 11, 2009

Excerpts from the Ditch Diaries

After the sun goes down behind the Rio Grande Pyramid

After the sun goes down behind the Rio Grande Pyramid

Much of the inspiration that comes from being at Ditch Camp results from the peace of the early morning on the mountain.  That is the time I am able to sit before the fire with note pad in lap, pen in one wool mitten, and cup of coffee in the other. Of course there is no time to write during the day.  That’s when we’re out working.  And by night, we’re tired, as you can imagine.  After dinner by the fire, we climb into the tent and read a chapter or two out loud.  Often times, there is the gentle steady breathing of sleep before the reading is done…

So mornings on the mountain…

It feels good to be back home.  Home away from home.  So simple, our tent and tarp tucked into the woods.  Everything just as we left it, washed and cleaned and freshened by the heavy rains of the past week.  And now we sit bundled under the tarp as a pot of coffee steams on the fire, rain sizzling as it drips onto the coals to the side of the coffee pot.  The rain beats down on the plastic; a rhythmic, steady, soothing sound.  The horses are already out on pasture, grazing, oblivious to the ominous clouds, the heavy rains, the lightning hitting the surrounding peaks high above where even the trees can not subsist.

A driving rain fell throughout the night.  This morning, the meadow is hidden in fog. Out on pasture, the horses are secrets, veiled among possible others out there, the elk, the deer, the moose.  Sharp, dark silhouettes against the velvety background.  Above the mist the world is blue, cloudless, clear, crisp, endless.  The peaks of the Rio Grande Pyramid and her neighbors sparkle above the cold grey layer in the first soft light of the day.  A promise of at least a little sunshine to dry our wet jeans and boots.

Last night was funny.  After all the nights of silence and solitude that we are able to experience up here, last night was a good one to remind us how precious peace can be… and how easy it is be to interrupted at times.  Take nothing for granted! It started with hearing the footsteps of horses on the pasture outside the trees our tent is tucked into and where the horses are tied to their highline for the night.  At first I figured it was just the one draft horse who always manages to untie him self and graze contentedly through the night as his buddies remain tied up near by.  But then it was more feet, and then a whinny.  I know my horses voices, and I couldn’t place which one that was.  When I heard it again, I woke Bob.  “The horses!” I told him.  No need to say more.  He sat up and began to dress for the cool night air.  When we climbed out into the light of the big moon, we could see a group of animals down below camp where the horses spend the day grazing.  But upon checking the high line, they were all there, even the big draft horse.  We walked down the pasture to check out what was there.  Sure enough, a group of rogue horses who escaped from their camp, away from a fellow horse camper. Then their owner showing up looking for his strays.  After sending him and them back on their way, we returned to the tent… only briefly.  At the very first light of day, with the fog thick and heavy, a helicopter flew by, staying low and slow, looking, searching with a bright spot light in the valley below us.  We know the helicopter, the red and white tell tale signs of the search and rescue or flight for life.  A uneasy feeling flies with the copter, as it portends someone, somewhere in grave need.  Twice the copter flew below our hidden camp, until we could hear it find its mark, settle down, and shut off the motor a couple miles away.



  1. It sounds peacefull but i still think i like the little cabin .Ive had visiters while camping but mostly racoons and deer looking for a free meal . You make even a rainy night in a tent sound good but waking up to wet everything is not always fun . Keep up your stories the are the bright spot in my life

  2. So many things true at one time, all at once…the dripping of the rain and the burn of fire, the peace of night and the fight for life. Some tethered safely while others roam and stray.

    So beautiful and fierce and even just a little frightening. This is life…thank you for sharing. I’ve missed you! Hugs…

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