A solitary coyote yelped and howled in the distance, enhancing the stormy atmosphere of my hilltop campsite above the Arkansas River Valley. Across the flat river plain, the Collegiate Peaks rose up from the valley floor like a row of mafia thugs, massive and unyielding. Turbulent clouds skimmed their summits and rolled onwards, smothering the evening skies in muted hues of blue and grey. Through a window in the mists, a sliver of a moon winked secretively before disappearing once more. With conditions this restless, I could only hope that tomorrow’s scaling of Mt. Yale would be successful, unlike the disappointing backpacking trip in the Sangre de Cristo Range that I’d completed the day before.
On that previous outing, I was dogged by flashes of lightning and persistent downpours as I hiked up into the high country. Periodically, I had to crouch beneath overhanging spruce branches to avoid becoming completely saturated. That night, I had hoped to be entertained by the sound of thunder reverberating off the face of Comanche Peak while I lay safe and secure in my tent, but the air went completely still. I was bored and insulted, after having fought through so much unfavorable weather to get there.