THE MOUNT WHITNEY JOURNALS – Book IV – 2007
Saturday, August 11, 2007, Whitney Portal Campground, campsite #7
With the flames rising, we move the camp chairs from the clearing and seat ourselves around the fire. This rates as another of those wonderful ‘finally’ moments. I clip and light my cigar and wait for stars to appear. Luck has doubly blessed us for the two nights we’re here. Not only is it nearly a new moon, which means an optimally dark sky for viewing stars, but we are also catching the annual Perseid meteor showers during their peak.
Once we’re settled in, we break out a bag of marshmallows for roasting. We grab some suitable twigs nearby and moments later we are trying to avoid 2nd degree burns in our mouths. Although I still haven’t outgrown my sweet tooth, much to my dentist’s delight, I’d forgotten how sugary a roasted marshmallow can be. I eat only three of them before I call it quits. Rich and Phil, likewise, eat only a couple before tossing their roasting sticks into the fire. I return to my cigar and I find that the taste of marshmallow doesn’t pair well with my Macanudo. It takes several puffs before I get the sickly sweet taste out of my mouth. I’m glad Phil’s never acquired a taste for cigars and Richard isn’t a big fan either so they both decline when I offer them one. And although we’re awash in campfire smoke, I sit furthest downwind to minimize the offense of my cigar smoke.
Now completely dark, we all recline back in our chairs to view the stars. I point out a satellite orbiting overhead. Although we can see abundant stars, the glare of the campfire obscures a good amount of them and I can’t see meteors. I move away from the fire towards the clearing above the picnic table and when I do, I’m able to see shooting stars streak across the heavens. I let out an “oh my God”, a couple of “wows” and possibly even a “holy shit”, which prompts Rich and Phil to rush over and watch. They let out some of their own exclamations and a few variations on my own well-worded statements regarding the meteor shower. As I continue to stand in the clearing, looking at the sky with my brother and my friend, the darkness conceals an ear to ear grin and a tear of joy.