The stars last night had been brighter, clearer, more numerous than in the last ten days, something about camping at 7500 feet. The next morning was autumn, September One, dove season. My warm breath hung in the air as I thought, “Do I want to spend my last day in traffic?”
I turned the car around out of the lodgepole and headed west, downslope three billion years to the valley floor and the bony, meandering river supplying adjacent farmers with neat prisms of alfalfa and straw. Around, through dry high scrub, then back up into the southern flank of the mountain range.
I’d been here once before, when the little mountain stream was overrun with brook trout. I was one of the folks who’d mixed a quart of molasses-colored rotenone with five gallons of creek water and watched the milky mixture drip into the stream for eight hours, paving the way for native cutthroat restoration. Real natives. They’d been shocked out of the stream and packed up above a barrier fall then reintoduced once the brookies were gone. Years ago. And I was curious how they fared.