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Sierra Alive


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Day 7, Saturday, October 31: Our other main task for the day was to gather firewood, build a pit and get some heat going to warm us and dry our clothes and sleeping gear. We took all our wet clothes and hung them on the trees in the sun, as well as our sleeping bags. At first we gathered a small amount of wood, just enough to get the fire started. After we shoveled out the pit in the snow we placed some large rocks in it to rest the wood on and eventually to put our pot on for heating water. Our reading books proved to be our paper source for starting the fire, even though they were both damp. Because of the dampness, we had to start the butane stove and use it to dry, then light the paper which in turn caught the twigs. The fire was reluctant to start with all the wood so wet and we had to carefully tend it. We took turns stoking the fire and holding clothes up to dry while the other one went to get more wood. These tasks were all rather exhausting. The fire finally got going great. We heated water for cocoa and tea. By around noon we each had dry pants to put on. Until then we had nothing on our legs. We worked all day drying sleeping bags and clothes and gathering more wood in preparation for our early dinner.
We had a wonderful hot fire going deep in the protected pit, snow enclosing it on all sides, as well as a huge wet fallen tree. But some loose branches and bark on the tree dried out from the heat and suddenly, while Pat was off getting more wood, the tree caught on fire. I yelled for her to return immediately, calling a short succinct message. "Pat come now, the fire is out of control." Pat tore back, plunging through deep snow as fast as she could. I took a wet towel and began hitting the tree and she took hand fulls of snow. Probably within a few minutes we had it out; wow what a scare.
We sat by the fire talking into the coming darkness. The sky was full of magentas, promising a good next day. Stars were coming out and the moon looked about half full. We took some pictures by the fire and eventually made a hot drink to take into the tent. As we marveled at the evenings beauty we heard this loud sound like a large group of people or animals or... geese! At first we could not imagine what all this commotion was that moved across the landscape. We never saw the birds, but we believe it was a large flock of geese traveling through the valley talking to each other as they continued their journey. I told Pat it would be a cold night, clear and cold. go to hands

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