“If I only had some arrowleaf balsamroot right now, I could make an excellent feast, but I suppose I’m not in that habitat zone, am I?” I reasoned. I also considered catching a few of those jeering pikas that were whistling at me earlier in the evening on my way up that horribly unsteady talus slope. Even though they were probably simply warning their friends of my approach, I still felt a tint of mockery after each slip on the jagged rocks.
Even though the night sky was cloudy, it was unexpectedly bright and cold out, I supposed a bright moon was making the clouds glow from above. I must have snoozed a bit after I finished the last activity, because it seemed late at night. But I was too cold to sit still. The mossy logs in the forest below were much more comfortable that these jagged rocks. I slipped on my light day-pack and continued uphill.
Few trees remained on the landscape now, which would have made navigation easy—if I had known where I was heading. Scattered among the rocks, in clumps, were tiny plants all huddled together. It seemed as though there were different species all working together to survive. Even the trees were clumped together helping each other out.
As I continued up the ridgeline, a cold wind bit at my skin. I found a clump of trees and wove myself between the branches until I felt somewhat comfortable and even a bit warm. It humbled me thinking about these old trees and how they had survived for so long in this desolate landscape and how none of these plants could survive without each other. I began to become a bit frightened, not because of my predicament, but because I was beginning to think like Mr. Davis! His last clue was Humility.
I slept deeply until dawn burst over the ridgeline and stirred the juncos and roused the twerpy pikas. I had my breakfast of half a granola bar and humbled myself further by starting the next activity.
The Oregon junco looks like this. Unlike the other birds I saw, this bird seemed to be everywhere. I couldn’t escape seeing juncos, not in the forests, mountains or rocky ridgelines. It was almost eery—like one was following me. I took this picture, while I was grounded, in my backyard when I returned home.