Chuck Mack: Hello from top of the world

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— Hello everyone, from the top of the world.

Well, not quite the top, but well into the upper part anyway.

We are sitting in our favorite camping spot on top of Rabbit Ears Pass, camped out in a remote little unimproved campground. It is a beautiful spot, hardly ever inhabited by anyone but us. We most always have it to ourselves.

The nights are cold at 9,500 feet, so we park the trailer where it is open to the east, so the sun will warm us early in the morning. It's nice to be lying in bed and have the sun come peeking through the window and warm the covers. Oh, what a glorious feeling of warmth one gets just lying there, peeking back out the window at all the beauty that surrounds us. While I wait for the sun to warm the trailer, I think how lucky I am to have lived another night and awaken to another day, which I am sure will - like all the others before it - be filled with excitement, anxiety, happiness and surprises.

We are camped out in one of Mother Nature's most beautiful settings. To the west of us is a large ice-cold spring, running to the north. To the east of us Walton Creek, which is also running to the north. Just a few feet away, the two run together into a wide basin filled with several small beaver dams. In the evening, these little ponds are just boiling with little brook trout, feeding on the surface.

All around us are mountains covered with pine trees, with an occasional small stand of aspen trees. The forest floor is covered with large boulders. Some of these rocks are as large as a small house. The ground is made up of sandy, gravelly soil and is covered with low-growing grass, intermingled with the most gorgeous array of wild flowers imaginable. Though it is late July, a small snow bank is left from last winter. From this snow bank, I fill the canvas fishing-bag just before we go fishing. That way the little brook trout stay crisp and fresh enough for dinner. If there isn't any snow, just filling the bag with wet grass, and keeping the bag wet by dipping it in the stream occasionally will keep the fish cool even on a hot day.

To my estimation, there is no finer meal on earth than a plate full of "brookies" that were practically jerked from the creek and into the skillet. Of course, there is only one way to top off a meal like this, and that is with a piece of shortcake topped with fresh picked "Mountain Strawberries." Or a piece of home-baked pie made from fresh picked "Mountain Gooseberries." How about fresh "Mountain Bear Berries?"

These are a variety of "Alpine Currant." We are lucky, this is a good berry year, so, quite often, we find a berry patch and pick a 1/2 gallon bucket or two of berries. Guess I should make that three buckets because by the time two buckets are full, there are enough in our tummy to fill another bucket. Alberta loves to bake a pie or two in the oven of our camper, she prefers to bake in the early morning when the heat from the oven takes the morning chill out of the camper.

Is your mouth watering yet? I hope so, because that's what I intended to do.

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