Italiano feels the most like wild camping, Graham and I free to set up our tent where we please, and for tonight, it is next to the big tree and water source.
Oh, happy us, for the evening hike to Italiano feels like the end-of-day hikes from Utah and Colorado, sky crisp, forest incubating coolness and shadow, the final stretch to an evening of merriment and solid sleep just around the next sandstone crest.
We arrive in time for me to set the water boiling for, yep, another night of pasta–ravioli? spaghetti? tortellini? have your pick!–with tomato sauce and the last bites of far-from-good almond chocolate from here, and so giddy we are to be dry that everything just seems ridiculous.
Out on a water collecting mission, Graham spots Kim and Matt’s day-glo packs and leaves them a little note, a request for a campsite visit once they return from their French Valley extravaganza, likely swept up in the beauty of the moment.
We hope, at least, because bed time rolls around, and so into our two-person refuge we go, chatty-chatty until we begin to doze off.
“Gwendoline?” we hear, and oh, up, up, up, it’s Kim and Matt, how interesting these repeat rendez-vous, and now, the night chill definitely sets in, we stand ramrod against the cold for a dose of hiking tails.
And, for a curious find.
Flecks of neon glow on and off in the soil, a figment of our imagination, we are certain, until my headlamp meets the glow of a squat worm, itself dark and thick, no bigger than a pinky nail, butt shining yellow lime at intervals, a beacon for who-knows-what.
Wow, glow worms really do exist, and on that note, we all hit our respective hay.
Because, tomorrow is here before we know it, Kim and Matt rockstar hikers, up and at ’em before Graham and I blink ourselves to consciousness, determined to wrap up the circuit in time for the afternoon bus back to town.
We, however, emerge from the depths of our tent cave for a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal sweetened with dulce de leche … and the worst instant coffee ever.
All before 8 AM, of course, because the flip side of illegally camping is a register in the late-night ranger’s notepad, one that comes with a stern warning of getting the hell out of dodge before the morning shift.