An unexpected afternoon off - and the temptation to sink into the white noise of my home with a good book is strong. But I throw camera, lenses and my sturdy tripod into a pack. The plan is an overnight to the Hurricane Deck - maybe a shot of the milky way, or dawn breaking over the Deck.
I weigh my pack, reconsider, remove the 10 lbs of photo gear and call M. Incredibly, he is agreeable and we are soon on our way.
It is monsoon weather - airless, hot, humid. Thick clouds boil up over the horizon, darkening the sky but giving no relief from the heat. The trail seems interminable; relentlessly uphill but we finally drop down into the golden potrero at the base of the Deck just as the last light fades.
Stretched out in the sweetly scented grass, a few lines from the Mary Oliver poem "Sleeping in the Forest" come to mind:
"I thought the earth remembered me,
she took me back so tenderly,
arranging her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds.
I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed,
nothing between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths
among the branches of the perfect trees......."
Much later I wake to a waning moon washing a cool, silvery light over the entire landscape. Dark clouds obscure the stars, lightening flickers ominously along the ridge line of the Deck - but oddly there is no thunder.
Shortly after dawn, M. and I hike up the Potrero trail to the Deck itself. A faint breeze lightens the oppressive heat and we sit in companionable silence looking out over the immense and sere landscape.
Then back to camp, where M. waits patiently while I scramble to pack - jamming stuff in anywhere it will fit, slapping off the giant black ants, pulling razor sharp grass heads out of socks, shoes, pants, hair......
A final shot of the deck, an easy jaunt downhill to the car while fat raindrops patter onto the dusty verge, and a rising wind carries with it the scent of sage and sun baked rock.