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May 6, 2006
Dawn was quiet at Hedges pour-off overlooking the valleys of the Buffalo and Smith Creek, with the skies overcast and fog running along the river. I spent a peaceful half hour or so there before scooting on over to the pullover above Smith Creek and hiking down to the land of the giants, to one of the stretches of the creek that is sort of like a water and stone boulevard where all the houses have been tossed this way and that by the hurricane of time.

Recent and continuing rains meant that the creek was running better than I've ever seen it, and I spent hours working my way up one side of the creek and down the other, sometimes sitting out a shower under an umbrella, sometimes edging along a wet, sloping boulder to set up a shot, and sometimes standing chest deep in a pool, and for once I actually remembered to stash my wallet and keys in the camera pack instead of drenching the one or two dollar bills that I usually have there. Money that has been soaked in creek water smells bad, and the lady behind the counter at the quickie mart will look at you funny and sniff before she picks up the bill you plunk down on the counter to pay for your ninety-cent Mountain Dew.

Today's Back Light is from one of the last hikes I ever had with Darby, late in 1998, which wasn't a hike really, but a walk on a snowy winter day along Lake Fayetteville, where I found these two tiny saplings poking up out of the ice and snow near the shore. They struck me as a comical little duo frozen in their odd poses, almost as if they were little stick men sneaking up behind me who suddenly had to stop in mid-stride when I turned and saw them. Or maybe they were a woody sort of Monty Python doing their own semaphore version of Wuthering Heights?