A local geriatric club rented every tent site for their annual art show. It was the only weekend of the year Death Valley National Park would be fully booked. We showed up missing that last comfortable spot near toilet paper and portajohns. It was your first camping trip, and the first time you’d experience life below 65 degrees. It would be 32 inside our south facing tent. I explained we’d go “back country”, a hilarious phrase used by tame people, and sleep right on the mountain. You’d never been cold before and as the tent shivered into nightfall, you exhaled and saw your first breath leave you. You tested several more, silently, watching ice form against the canopy. Then laughed a little supernova out into the beyond.
Zachary Fishel teaches seventh grade in the world’s sunniest town. His work is widely published with two full credit titles to his name. When able he spends time hiking with his dog and eating ice cream with his wife.