The 8th morning on the trail was a quiet morning. With my hood drawn so tight around my face that I felt like a New York City carriage horse with blinders on, the constant white noise of raindrops falling on Goretex tucked me away in my own little world. There was a kind of solitude that is perhaps unique to a gentle green landscape that is blurred by a wash of low grey clouds. But, cold thumbs and a drippy nose soon got old. Rich and I separated a bit on the trail as he struggled to find that perfect balance of layers. Too many layers make you warm but sweaty and as damp under your raingear as out of your raingear. Too few layers and your body chills, your muscles ache, and your mood turns as foul as the weather. I hadn’t thought to put a snack in my pocket that morning, and I couldn’t face digging under my pack cover and risking getting everything wet, even though it was long past morning snack time.
But, as we approached Carson Pass I realized we were hiking through what I thought would be the prettiest sight of the day. Stately boulders stood amidst the vibrant green tambourine leaves of young aspen which celebrated the purple lupine, orange paintbrush, yellow mules ear and even the occasional columbine that were placed perfectly around and were even falling into the path that wound around this natural hillside garden. Surely this stretch of trail would be the envy of any professional landscaper.
And it was gorgeous, but not as gorgeous as what we saw next. Just yards further down the trail there was a highway crossing, at the far end of the trailhead parking lot, past the trail signs, past the 3 or 4 parked vehicles stood not just one, but two outhouses. I’m talking about covered structures with toilet seats, toilet paper on a roll and a trashcan. This is the kind of place where a girl can drop her pack and her pants in dry comfort.
I heard someone say once that you know the weather was bad on a trip when you come home without any pictures. No one wants to mess with their camera in inclement weather. We don’t have many pictures from that day. We don’t have a single shot of the beautiful aspen garden, but we do have a picture of those outhouses.