Noon. 70° with no chance of rain, but no one on the trails all day. Walked face-first into every spider web from Stone Door to Sawmill. Waiting now for friends who camped at Hobbs Cabin last night.

Eight empty campsites. The Big Creek dried up. Me out of water. The ground is covered with the debris of humans pantomiming survival: rotting firewood, empty Bic lighters, charred cardboard from an empty 18-pack of Milwaukee's Best, fleece blanket picked apart by rats.

Took nearly three hours to hike in. I'll need to leave by 2:30 to be back at my car before dark if they haven't arrived.

Wondering if I wrote down the wrong campground. Worried about obvious dangers: loose rocks on the trail along the gorge, black bears, yellowjacket & copperhead nests underfoot. The domestic lives we're visiting. Knowing I can't build a fire to make camp alone.

A hawk swoops down, catches a baby bird. The bees buzzing around yesterday's campfire drone like voices at the top of the valley. All around me, the little creatures have bright voices & no secrets, plainspoken about the way life is.

for Brandon, Joel, Niles, Tim, & Travis