Rocco Shun drives me in his awesome VW back to Echo Lake. The clouds are questionable grey masses, but are more bluster than actual threat.
I hike past a group of “inner city youth” on a backpacking trip, neat lakeside cabins and dreamy Lake Aloha. I camp after Dick’s Pass.
The terrain makes cruising easy. The next day I enter Chief Granite Wilderness and, before I know it, I’ve hiked 30 miles. I camp by a creek, soak my feet, and eat my current favorite trail dinner: Mountain House Chili Mac.
I notice a rolled up tent near where I’m camping. It seems peculiar to find a random abandoned tent way out here. Is something wrapped inside? I poke it with my trekking pole. Feels empty. I’m scared to actually open it. I go back to my dinner, but keep thinking about the tent. Why is it here? Did the owner not want to carry it anymore? They couldn’t have simply forgotten it. What if it’s for wrapping up dead bodies? I freak myself out and have to talk myself down from the horror flick ledge. I remember reading once that worry is misplaced creativity. I laugh at myself for having too “productive” of an imagination. I get into my sleeping bag and have one last look at my maps to make sure there isn’t some secret access road that would allow a sadistic flesh hacker to find me. This is the first time I’ve been scared on trail… and all because of an abandoned tent.
I wake up in the morning, still alive. The tent is still there too, looking limp in the pale morning light.