Dark and early wake up calls again.
There should be a dawn light but it is dark.
The air is thick and smells acrid.
Bones and muscles have for all stopped their screams and moans. We are acclimated to the long, high treks and early morning hours.
Hunger needs to be satiated.
At breakfast, the PI announces she will go to town today. Her assistant will lead us on the survey. She is a bouncy little gal who sets a pace faster than we are used to. We will slow her down!
The daily camp chores are done by the stand-down person. We take turns at camp duties none of which is over-whelming.
After breakfast,the stand-down places lunch and goodies out on the long table for individuals to put together for the day; dishes washed; toilet paper restocked; surface trash, of which there is little is picked up and bagged. Then aid the cook in dinner preparations.
We start our trek, slow and a steady up we toil.
At this altitude of 10,000 feet, the gnarled trees begin to look skimpier. They look as tired as we feel. The ground seems drier. Grass, what little there is, crunch under our boots.
We do not need much shade, as the sun has not been full on our backs. It is muted even more today.
We haven’t found any signs of early man by lunch time and that is taken in the little shade thrown by scraggly, beetle eaten trees. Branches are brown and thin. It is worrisome.
We see more animals too. They seem to be frantic, are grouping and running down the mountain. They make us nervous as we think they know something we do not know about. It is too quiet.
Where are the birds? The fire! How close? Should we be getting out of the area? Surely, the Forest Rangers would tell us to get out if we are in any danger. We calm a bit.
No finds all day much to the disgust of the assistant who was so hopeful. That is ok. We still had a good but tiring day.
Camp home looks good.
Our PI is there waiting. She could not get down the 2 track to the main road, as visibility was so bad further away from camp.
We are not pleased with her report and tell her about the animals. She saw many also. We are worried.
We talk about leaving, but then again decide Rangers would have notified us to get out if we were in harm’s way. She tells us she tried the car radio, still no reception.
We all pitch in to help with the dinner dishes and general clean up.
Showers are next. The branch has held, but the water is cold; the filtered sun has not warmed the water.
We decide not to have a campfire as everything looks, feels, and smells too dry. A swirling spark could get us into trouble.
We are tired, worried and go to bed early.
to be continued