Last June, weary of travel and work, I longed for the high forest. A fine, new, athletic friend had one week available, so we set off, on the advice of another friend, for "Indian Heaven," a region of lakes and meadows in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the Washington Cascades. At the end of the road we shouldered our packs and hiked up a steep little trail we had selected while studying the map that morning. Within four miles we passed a dozen lakes. The undergrowth beneath slender noble firs was greening huckleberry. Once, my friend stopped short and I bumped into her, startling a herd of velvet-antlered elk grazing ahead. They thumped away over a cream and pink cloud of lady's slipper.
In the long afternoon light, we came down a sandy slope to the shore of Blue Lake. "This is the best," said my friend. There was a little wooded peninsula for a camp. Soon the tent was up and she had potatoes in the fire. I put a wet fly in the water and caught two cutthroat trout. One was fiery crimson from jaw to vent. Cleaning it we understood why. They were a matched pair, ready to spawn. Later I might see an omen in this. Then it was simply a taste of mountain caviar before dinner. I drew the cork on our bottle of wine.
The sound went across the water and reached the ears of a ranger walking the trail. He stopped and called out:
"Is your name Moore?"
The voice seemed to come from the trees, the mountaintop, from God. Finally we saw the ranger waving.
"Why on earth do you want to know?" I shouted.
"Let me come around," he yelled.
While he was walking, we decided it had to be something to do with the car. No one knew within 50 miles where we were.
He was an angular man, young, flushed at the success of his hunt. He unfolded a worn page of notepaper. "Los Angeles called," he said. "They need you back there in the morning." I sat down.
"It's Robert," said my friend.