Celestial rewards on the Boundary Trail
Oct. 11 was the last day of predicted dry, nice weather in the high country. I did some chores to prepare for winter and built a new weather-proof box for an elderly relative's well pump.
When I finished, I had two hours of light left. Five o'clock is a little late to bungee cord a sleeping bag, Thermarest pad and tarp to the back of my dual-sport trail bike, but with a bucket list of issues and surgery scheduled in 10 days (which will limit my activities for a couple of months), I had to find a way to make the most of this last 70-degree weekend.
So off I rode.
I made camp at 7:30 p.m. on a saddle ridge near Craggy Mountain, which is out in the Applegate on the Boundary Trail. With a mini flashlight held in my teeth, I spread my 40-year-old down bag out on the ground tarp. The goose and duck feathers in this bag are still a ways from retirement.
I know Mother Nature can spank you pretty hard if you disrespect the elements. So don't tell her I had a small grin, which she probably didn't see behind with my balaclava and hooded sweatshirt. (I have been told I look a bit like Kenny from South Park With this duo on.)
As I breathed that snappy cold air and slipped into the sack, I wondered, "Why do we do this?"
To prove Jack London wasn't the only solitary woodsman? The challenge of our gear versus another night in the outback? Is it something like a hunter or fisherman waiting for opening day? Mortality and advancing physical limitations we do not accept?
My passion to get out and stargaze away from city lights on a multi-use trail, fairly high in elevation, was a calling. October sings "Auld Lang Syne" for riding, pruning and keeping an eye on my personal favorite trail, the Sturgis Fork and Boundary Trail. It's the last dance, son, 'til next year.
I laid back on a bed of high-country ground cover, with the cold flexing its muscles, and spent two hours viewing the sky. The rewards were two nice shooting stars, a sparkling view of the Milky Way and various man-made hardware on a hurried pace trying to imitate UFOs across the dark.
The rewards of day two started early. First light, the morning star and a sunburst over the eastern horizon. It was a color seen for only about 10 seconds at dawn — RUST!
Each sunrise is a gift. Enjoy this one.
Editor's note: Newspaper reproduction wouldn't do justice to Rocky Reeser's photo of sunrise on the Boundary Trail. To view his photos, click on the link in this story at www.oregonoutdoors.com. Rocky Reeser lives in Medford.