I stepped around a downed tree and crested the rise. My hands were on my hips, and I tried to look dignified while gulping for air. Ahead the trail snaked down in switchbacks toward the Pit River, which ran thin in the summer, a series of sky blue lines through the dirt.
I followed the path down to the river and camped there that night, building a small fire in a pit of dirt and rocks and sleeping in the open. The stars in the sky glowed like gems at a museum, as if someone above was shining a light through a private collection just for me to see.