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Cold morning sun | by Trail Image
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Cold morning sun

It is usually the sound of animals scratching around outside (more often imagined than real) that wakes me up in the tent. But even though twenty wolves were released on that very spot in 1996,¹ I didn’t hear them or anything else.


It was not what I heard but what I felt that woke me up. I traded a 20°F bag for zero so I wouldn’t have to suffer again² but that night was setting an October 6 record low of 7°F.³ I was chilled. To make it better, I realized I’d need to step outside to answer Nature’s call.


So began the sequence of events which led to learning that butane lighters don’t work at those temperatures. Ha! Crouching alone in the dark, feeling the cold seep into my skin, fumbling with twigs and inoperative lighters was … well, amusing. I almost laughed out loud.


I decided to sacrifice some hope of coffee and a hot breakfast to start a fire with the bit of remaining cook stove gas. I stood a long while by that fire there in the mountains in the middle of the night, sure to get my gas’s worth, before returning to my tent this time to sleep in motorcycle suit liners.


¹ Idaho Fish & Game:



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Taken on October 7, 2012