I pull up Mussorgsky on the iPod as we pull into the Bald Mountain campground in the Bighorn Mountains to spend the night. The Mussorgsky music swirls as we drive past a ring of women who sing in the first campsite. No others are camped in the second loop of the campground, where we select site nine for the night.
Our site is backed by a small stream and lush wetland growth
in an open patch of spruce. Worn,
browned flowers and early fruits of marsh marigolds dot the wetland and buttercups
add spots of yellow. Tucked among
the sedges at the edge of the stream I find delicate stalks of heartleaf
twayblade and alpine mitrewort.
Both are inconspicuous and have greenish flowers. There is also a dense patch of
bluebells, which is especially satisfying because we are traveling to find
The multitudes of mosquitoes settle upon us as we set up
camp. Even as I wave my hand in
front of my face to clear breathing room of mosquitoes, they simply land on my
hand and raise their needles. I
slap my shin and kill a handful. I
spray on repellent, and this at least keeps the swarm from landing on my skin,
although a buzzing cloud persists around me.
The mosquitoes abate in the cool evening, especially after Adrian
starts a fire. I try to read at
the fire, using my headlamp to illuminate the text, but the smoke is drawn to
me. I sit and the smoke
comes. I move, and the smoke
changes direction to follow me. I
move again and again and again and the smoke follows. Finally, I give up and go to bed.
A poorwill calls from beyond the trees behind us. The call is crisp and like a queary. ‘Who there? . . . Who there?’