Snow Lake, New Mexico

by Rich Wright

25 June 2024 — There’s no one up here but us and the hosts, and we all keep to ourselves.

We got here over 30 miles of bad road, cliff hanging single lane, like the Sierra Tarahumara, remote, endless vistas, long drops, no guardrails. In the Sierra we would have seen someone scraping a living out of the landscape, but here we saw no one, not even in the semi-occupied town of Mogollon. I’d rather have been drinking but we passed the Last Chance Liquor Store in Buckhorn without stopping. My mistake.

At 7500 feet, the sun is skin peeling intense. Google, back in the land of the internet, forecast the high here at the low 80s, but in the sun it’s scorching. The shade is nice but the breeze is hot.

I smashed a mosca domestica with an empty beer bottle. I guess he never saw it coming or he was too heat addled to react. Biting flies would later take revenge.

The thunderheads are blue-gray bottomed and low, fluffy white in the billowing towers. The forecast chance of precipitation was 50%, but the raindrops are 12 inches apart.

Our campsite came with an elk foreleg, hide intact. I’m reminded of that old 1950’s movie where the bad guy killed his victims with tiger paws.

Jets leave contrails at 30,000 feet in the blue between the clouds, and the distant roar of the engines sounds a low rumble like constant thunder.

Turkey vultures ride the wind, wheeling through the sky, gliding. An egret wades near shore, and out near the center of the lake, a duck, perhaps — too far to identify for sure — beats its wings on the water before diving, again, and again, and then flying low, skimming the surface away to a far corner of the lake.

Gusts of wind billow the tent, first on one side and the other, concave, convex, like a lung inflating, like hope, like dreams, like aspirations and exhalations.

The egret folds its long neck into an S before his head strikes into the water like a snake’s.

The pine bark beetle is decimating the hill on the east side of Snow Lake. Between pine beetles and forest fires, drought and infrequent catastrophic floods, our forests are being decimated in ways we won’t overcome probably ever.

Earth is a finite resource. That’s something our forefathers never understood or rarely contemplated. I see it because I’m old.

Will my kids have forests? And their kids? Will there ever be another place where the road ends and the adventure begins?

The flies will survive. The birds longer than the rest of us. Among humans the billionaires will probably last the longest, unless the revolution takes them first. If only the billionaires survive, they’ll have to live with each other, and how much fun could that be?

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