Grand Enchantment: Wild in the Dark (4/2)

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Road to Tajique – 4/2

Night falls as I descend out of the mountains and through an empty car campground. Picnic tables and tent pads lay open and waiting in the twilight, ready for the start of tourist season and open entrance gates. It’s an eerie, hollow feeling to be alone in a place built for a so many people. Car engines and lanterns should fill the campground, fires burning in pits and bathroom doors slamming, kids riding bikes. Instead there is nothing but silence.

A camper waits down the road, parked at the gate, lights glowing from its windows. A couple sits at the tiny table inside. They’re eating dinner and laughing. I slip by, careful to stay hidden away in the shadows and trees, not wanting to appear like a ghost from the darkness, not wanting to scare them. I step back on the road a hundred yards away and kept walking in the night.

Roads are easy to follow in the light of a near-full moon. They’re flat, simple paths that let your mind drift as the light spills in from above.

I slip on my headlamp, but leave it off, preferring the darkness. Light is too visible at night, too exposed. You can see it from so far away. In the dark, I feel hidden and safe, hyper aware of the world around me, knowing that I’d see any person long before they saw me.

A few more miles and I see a pair of red brake lights glowing in the distance. They look like two eyes in the dark and I feel my heart race at the sight. Just a car, I think, but I feel half-animal, half-unsure what to make of the glowing lights in the distance. The bright red bulbs burn against the moonlit night, forcing themselves on the world instead of blending in. I wait in the shadows until I hear the engine sputter to life and the two glowing red eyes drift away down the roar.

Silence again. Darkness. I step back out, listening, walking, waiting to hear the distant rumble of a motor. My mind registers the noise, knows what it is. Car, it says, but it’s scary somehow. Foreign and strange. I want no part of the glowing, roaring monsters that charge out of the darkness and away in an angry roar of light and wheels.

I slip into the trees each time one passes, watching through branches, still and quite, waiting until each disappears and the night returns to darkness and moonlight and animals can walk the road again.

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5 thoughts on “Grand Enchantment: Wild in the Dark (4/2)

  1. I don’t read all my email, but when I see a post here I always relish it, at least once, right away!

  2. I love this accounting of what it is like to be out in the moonlight and avoiding human/vehicular interaction like any sane animal would do!

  3. Great description of being in the dark and avoiding the lights: as a longtime canoe/flyfishing guide at night, I can relate so well to that. Your connection to the land and the moment are very cool.

  4. Night hiking by moonlight or simply sitting outside, watching, listening, sensing the “other” nocturnals is totally cool and amazing. Things familiar like cars, lights and man-made noise become foreign unwanted intrusions into our unique world. When the landscape is snow-covered it is magical. Especially enjoyed this entry.

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