Eyes open. Darkness. I’m completely underneath the down quilt. I poke my eyes out of the warmth, and I see that the condensation on the inner wall of the tent has frozen.

Some has collected on the foot box, but not enough to wet the down feathers. It’s 6:45. The sun has risen, it’s time to get up.

Just...pull back the quilt. And get up. It’s not that cold. It will be fine.

Ok. Now.

Now?

An hour later, I’m up. I’ve adopted the policy of sleeping with my hiking clothes rolled up on a ball inside the quilt. Also, my water and water filter, so that they don’t freeze.

I put on my day clothes, toasty from the reflected body heat of the quilt.

Now, the first thing to pack is my insulated air pad and quilt. These are the two items maintaining warmth.
Hark, Food Bag!

Go. Just...go.

1/2 hour later, I deflate the pad and roll up the mattress. Now it’s time to go. Pack up the rest of my gear, and get out of the tent.

My food bag is about 200 feet off on a ridge, undisturbed. I collect it, pack up, and I’m off, hiking in my down coat.

It only takes about 30 minutes to find some direct sunlight, and some much nicer campsites.

Much nicer. Dernit.

wat.

The landscape has changed again: a pleasant, flat, even trail without any snow. Off in the distance, there seems to be a drop off. I assume it’s the Grand Canyon.

Should I check it out? No. I’ll get there soon enough.

And then, a burn area. Mayhem and devastation of dead trees. Up the hill. Down the hill. Up the hill. Down the hill.

I don’t know how many times this repeated. It all runs together in a torturous day dream.

I start singing to myself, as I often do in unpleasant situations. It’s a little ditty that goes like this.

La da la da la da da da, keep going.
It continues like that for a while, and repeats.

At one point, I crest over a hill, thinking the ups and downs are over. It’s very windy, so much so that I’m sometimes using trekking poles to keep me upright.

More hills.

WHY, I yell. WHY.

There’s a tall aspen tree about 100 feet off, with two branches outstretched at the top, as if shrugging it’s shoulders at me.

I raise my arms in protest.

WHAT. IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO OFFER, SHUT IT.

Stupid tree.