The hills are alive with Memorial Day campers and our world has changed. This morning the two blues and I headed out for some “alone time” in the national forest, as has become our habit. We were accustomed to tents in a few camp sites along the road as the weather has been warming, but this morning each one was filled.
When we rounded the bend for the parking lot I felt dismay when I saw the brown, iron gates that had blocked the roads on either side of the fork were now wide open. Since we moved here they had been closed to regular vehicles and only available for snowmobiles in the winter. Since mud season began we had been hiking in our own personal playground: the only souls in sight the trotting elk tails and also tracks from moose, deer, and bear. All that has changed.
We drove down the road we’ve walked a dozen times at least, parking where we normally turn around for our walk. Maybe half of the campsites along side the road had RVs, tents, and one white Subaru with a contorted yoga form we left in a cloud of dust.
Our untried trail claimed to be a loop and we found ourselves at the fence line of houses keeping watch over massive hayfields and the lake. The ancient mountains looked back, keeping watch over them.
The loop met up with the road, Stillwater Pass, and as we approached, two vehicles a few minutes apart passed in different directions. We trekked the gap down the road back to our truck, ready for cars, managing to jump off the road for the last one we met near where we parked. For months we had been alone. I had come to feel as if we were in our own backyard where my only concern was avoiding animals and their babies.
I’ve never been one for change, even though change is the one thing that we can count on. Still, with one ear cocked for ATVs, the other heard birdsong and squirrels. I was surrounded by pines and aspens, brand new flowers, and a vista sparkling with a lake and dripping in melting, snowcapped mountains. It’s just another day in paradise.