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NIGHT IN THE UINTAS

A special article for the LYNX by HUPC member Sean Kearney

11 PM at 10,000 feet. Surprisingly warm for a late June night two miles high. No need even for a sleeping bag last night. Flat on our backs gazing wondrously at the heavens. Half a moon lighting part of the sky. I can always find the Big Dipper but am not practiced at identifying much else. One orb could be Mars. One shooting star. Lots of satellites.

It's as if this night could go on forever. Peaceful. Quiet but very alive. Changing slowly. The moon is sinking in the west and the mosquitoes have finally disappeared. Reflected light from Hayden Peak (and everything else) makes it almost brigh t enough to read. God's night lights.

3 AM or so. The moon is gone, the earth having turned her back. An astronomer's dream. The background light of the Milky Way is painted behind a billion distant suns. Is it truly there or just a retouched image on the dome of an observatory? Thankfully, it is real-- as near as I can tell. If not, I don't want to know. I am a bit groggy; the other sleepyheads are snoozing. All around is dark, amplifying the twinkling above. Good time to ponde r the meaning of life, or anything else for that matter. Quantum mechanics, meteorology, love.

No coyotes tonight. Too soon for birds. Most animals recharging so they can spend another day in paradise. What will tomorrow bring? Will rain rejuvenate the drying wildflowers? Will a bear investigate our campsite after we are gone? What wild creatures are watching this night with me? What wild creatures are watching me wonder?


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