Will and I drove into the city to see an Outward Bound presentation. It was definitely cool. The presenter had an indefinable quality about him that I recognized from dealing with Bruce. Some sort of Outward Bound "thumbprint:" upbeat, self sufficient, quietly self-confident. They showed a group of students doing a Tyrolean Traverse -- where you hang from a horizontal rope and slide along it -- across a river, in this case. In the background, the instructors were heard sharing the thrill of having been able to hit these kids with something so terrifyingly cool and unusual. It looked like real fun. My hopes for Outward Bound were confirmed and heightened.
We got stoned on the way home, came back sorta buzzed and had odd, very powerful, electrically charged sex. Very brisk, enthusiastic and bright, with an extroverted quality to it, like the sound of brass instruments. We both felt so strong and energetic. Something about having sex when you feel so enthusiastic: it was strong and comfortable and really, really fun together. We went to sleep happy, satisfied: best friends.
We had gotten there slightly early and seen the end of a presentation on California Grey Whales, which mate in threes. The female lies on her back, with her blowhole submerged: she can't breathe until it's all done. Two males probe and explore the female's belly with their four foot red prehensile dicks. The speaker called the first male to find the hole "Lucky Pierre." It seems that "Unlucky Pierre" sticks around and keeps the blissful couple afloat for the 15 minutes that Grey Whale "soul talk" usually takes. Oh, and they only fuck in the Sea of Cortez. At least Pierre knows where to go to pick up... "chicks."
Will was pretty impressed with those four foot dicks. Bright red and conical. Prehensile, no less! He showed up at home with an illustrated tome on comparative mammalian sexual anatomy. The whale section was book marked. I read it, but it didn't do much for me. Will took great delight in reading particularly graphic selections on guinea pig humping, vole fucking, female mice surrendering to the siren song of mouse penis musk. Romance in the wire cage. Somehow Will got on the subject of The Vaginal Plug: apparently, certain species' semen gels or congeals, upon exposure to air, so it dams the rest of the seed in, where it might do somebody some good. Somehow, everything he read seemed to finish with the female cemented up solid with animal-cum pudding.
We had noticed that our cum would get runny after 10 or 15 minutes. I'm not sure why runny cum was less cuddly than the freshly made tapioca stuff, but it was. Turns out that humans form a semi-plug, but only for 10 or 15 minutes... I guess Nature intended for the female to have leapt to her feet, by then, and be back out digging tubers.
I'd hate to think that we were inspired by the Grey Whales, but we decided to try fucking face-to-face. It was a Saturday morning. We had stayed up late, getting stoned, and had slept in. I had that mellow, slow-moving feeling: the THC of the pot time-releasing from the resin still coating my lungs. Somehow, rolling around in bed with Will was unusually sensuous, this morning. He smelled good. He felt good, pressed to the front of my body. I was drowsy, and his shoulders were erotic, where my face touched them. I found myself kissing him, languidly, repeatedly. Rolling him over, I kissed his body with my lips, savoring him. His flank, his tiny perfect nipples. Up to his neck, brushing his stubbly face: just a little stubble, the soft scratchiness of a 20 year old's beard. Yup, definitely a boy, but a tender one.
Does it make you more queer, or less, if you love a boy for his sheer masculinity? If you enjoy going out and doing "boy" things with him? If he moves like a male, and smells like a male, reacts to things like a male, maybe scratches you with his face? And it's sexy? At the time I must have thought "less queer." Now I realize that my eroticism for Will was unalloyed: I liked boys 100%, just exactly the way nature had made them. Not a substitute to me; the real thing. My real thing. Can't paint much of a straight face on that one, I guess.
I was panting with my desire for my lover. He was on his back, now, and I was kissing closer to his face. My lips tingled with eager sexuality. With each touch of his skin came a backflow of orgasm-energy: sweet, mesmerizing. Deeply right, somehow. I was nuzzling and grazing on him, feeling higher and higher. I kissed up his throat, along his neck, by his cute cool ear, the tender lobe, across his rosy cheek...
I reached his lips.
Almost groaning with deep, tender sexuality, I touched my lips to those of my lover. He responded to me tenderly, entering my mouth with a tentative lovingness that shut down my thinking entirely, welding me to him. My entire focus was on Will, on my love for him, on my urgency, on my desire, my delight in this boy, my beautiful lover. Big, strong, warm, tender... Did I say beautiful? Did I say I loved him with all my heart? Did I say that I entered him gently, that it was surpassingly sweet? That I made love to him all too briefly and came with my lips trembling on his? That he was so tender? That the experience stirred me to the core?
Will's turn, next. 'Twas indeed more bless'd to give than 'twas to receive. But Will agreed, it was better this way. It just seemed to hurt more, for me. Maybe that's just what you get if you let Richard Nixon get that nose of his up in there.
We had reached that comfort zone, where you don't even have to look at each other. Where you've become part of each other's world, each other's day. Where it actually startles you to hear your own name spoken, because it is a sudden reminder that you are actually a separate person. Somehow, Will's self conflict -- and mine -- were pushed 'way back. We didn't say mushy stuff to each other. But I know we each took deep comfort in the other. We demonstrated it again and again. In how tenderly we spoke. In how we stood near one-another sometimes, in the kitchen. In how unself-consciously we each initiated lovemaking. In how we were in no particular hurry to move apart, when chance had brought us into contact.
I know at this point, that I thought of us as a couple. I think Will just went with it and tried not to think too much. For the first few months, we had particularly enjoyed cumming together. We each went to some trouble to let our lover know when we were close, so we could slow down and be "there" to cross the threshold with him. To feel his joy come rocketing forth, as our own orgasm peaked: an indescribably intimate thrill, subtle but deep.
It was cold outside. Inside, I was so very warm. For the first time in my life. I guess we had won the battle: it wasn't necessary to be on guard, engaged in a constant re-seduction. The pleasures and benefits had apparently won Will over and he was mine.
Will and I had some time and went to Aspen to try snowshoe backpacking. We arrived at Toklat around 3 or 4 PM. As I got out of the BMW, I felt something. Something was weird about this place. All my hair stood on end and my skin crawled. There was something floating on the breeze... something primordially chilling.
There! Can you hear that?
"Whoa! What the fuck! Look at my arms," I said, showing Will my spectacularly erect goose bumps.
There: can you hear it now? The howling of wolves in the gloaming. Many wolves. Crooning their high, delicate, lilting chorus into the thin alpine air. Not so much howling as singing. Singing together their age-old song. Eternal song of the pack. Song of the tooth and the joy of the red blood pumping hot onto the virgin snow. The sound appearing and then being lost again, as the fickle alpine breeze veered and quartered, the eerie sound floating on the breeze: now toward us, now away.
"Yeah! Listen to those wolves," he smiled, genuinely happy and enthusiastic about them, for some reason. I don't know about that boy: eventually, he would own one.
"Wolves?" I asked, incredulously. "You mean... like... fucking wolves? And we're camping here?" I knew he knew something I didn't: Will certainly wasn't stupid.
"Yeah. They raise sled dogs here. They filmed Sgt. Preston of the Yukon here."
"Sergeant Preston! Cool! We watched that when I was like, four! On our first TV! How long has this place been here?"
"Since the 20's or 30's I think."
We went over and looked. Yup: wolves. Shit loads of wolves. Sixty or seventy just in the first kennel area. But all securely confined. They were silent and motionless, as we watched them. Absolutely still. We found ourselves whispering. After we walked away and our footsteps faded, there was a pause. And then the high keening resumed, tens and tens of wolf voices rising and falling in a delicate, eerie chorus. Sometimes audible, sometimes just beneath hearing. Nothing identifiable: just the goose bumps, the nuts clenched tingly-tight, the subliminal terror of being stalked by a predator at night. Of being prey. A deep primordial terror of being eaten. A racial memory.
We strapped on the snowshoes, hefted our packs and headed up toward Pearl Pass.
In a word, backpacking on snowshoes sucked. It just broke your heart, to stand at the top of a gentle mile-long incline and realize that you were going to have to trudge that whole way down. With skis, we could have glided: I resolved to learn cross country skiing A.S.A.P.. Besides, traversing a steep slope in snowshoes was tricky, precarious and likely to start a slide. We struggled a couple of miles and ended up pitching the tent right on the trail. There were no other flat places up there.
The first night, I had to take a crap in the snow at dusk. It was so damn cold, it didn't even melt a hole in the snow before it froze. I'm lucky my dick didn't snap off. My nuts were nowhere to be seen. We took to our sleeping bags with gusto, ate dinner and settled down for a companionable talk and to prepare for sleep.
I sure enjoyed Will's company at times like this. His gorgeous rosy face poking cheerfully out of the sleeping bag. He had a blue ski hat that made him look so spiffy. And ruddy cheeks, and perfect teeth. And those perfect eyebrows and those flashing blue-grey eyes. Those lips, so kissable. In fact, I had kissed them, as I had appreciated every other inch of this gorgeous creature. And now I was listening to him speak, as he enjoyed the almost sinful delight of being warm and cozy in the midst of the frozen forest. He was so happy and cute and articulate. I just loved the hell out of him.
Just as we were beginning to doze, Will made a sudden 'shushing' motion: "Hear that?" he whispered. "Avalanche! Sounds like a big one." I couldn't hear a thing, frankly. He described it as a near-subsonic rumble plus a larger subsonic component. I never heard it. But he was right.
The next day, we broke camp and did some snowshoe hiking. Got right to the base of Pearl Pass, before the steep-terrain limitations of the snowshoes forced us back. We were now cold and tired and it was very much too early to set up camp. Eventually, we found a huge chalet-style cabin and broke in through a hatch in the floor. We started a fire, made some cocoa and got warm. After a few hours' respite, we cleaned up any evidence of our visit, "un-broke" our way out and camped again in the tent for the night
The next day, at my suggestion, we trudged back down to Toklat and headed in to Aspen. Of course, the first stop was the drug store, for the best ice cream in the world. I thought of his tender dick as I enjoyed the cone: obviously, the enforced celibacy of the frozen high country had taken its toll. We had old family friends who lived in the area. Perhaps we could crash with them, tonight. Sure enough, they were in the book. I called and they invited us over, despite the decade since we'd last met. Their home was situated where they could ski out the door and down to the chair lift. We were kept waiting for an hour, to talk to our hostess: she was writing 120 paychecks, for the crew building the new opera house in one of the other ski areas. It was a four hour drive back there and the courier was waiting to take money to the troops. Eventually it was our turn and we were invited to spend the night.
"Did they find that guide?" We had no idea what she was asking about.
"There was an avalanche on the south side of Pearl Pass last night and three skiers are missing. Two of 'em were skiing into avalanche hazard and the guide went to get them. He triggered it."
"Do you know what time it happened?"
"Sorry, no." Will and I looked at each other. He'd heard the three men being buried alive.
I did the obligatory catch-up chat and then we were left to our own devices.
It was a household of four women. Four stinking rich women. The mom had broken her leg the week before, so she was headed back to bed. But the daughters were all getting ready for dates. Here we were, two guys. Two wannabe straight boys. In reality, two gay lovers. Neither of us was particularly clever or savvy or suave, when it came to girls. And these were super rich Aspen girls. Founding members of the "Jet Set." They paid us no mind, as they threw on a few thousand dollars' worth of couture clothing -- the casual stuff that really costs -- a few thousand more in casually elegant jewelry, and ran out the door to climb into their dates' spendy foreign rides. It was a world out of my league. I think even Will was a little taken aback.
In prep school, Will had gone home with his schoolmates, on occasion. Gone to these huge old-money mansions with the library on the mezzanine of the great hall. Been served tea in the morning room by the fucking butler. I think we were both more... intimidated? Is that the word? A bit emasculated? We were certainly taken aback, made less potentially desirable to any woman, in our own eyes, by our inability to compete in this rarefied air.
We went to bed feeling sorta bad about ourselves and sucked each other off. His familiar beauty soothed me. He was very hard and I enjoyed his big boyish penis immensely. Enough to come (with some help). It was hard and urgent and -- best of all -- it was attached to Will, whom I loved. Fuck those bitches. Besides, this sure beats the hell out of watching TV. But it really made our kind of sex seem like second best. Like a substitute. And, looking back, I think that's how we both regarded it. We were both virgins, then. Fucking a pussy was real sex. It was the real prize, the genuine article. Once you had fucked one, you would have fulfilled a fundamental bodily imperative. Having somehow failed to do so, we were forced to turn to one another, biding our time.
I mean, don't get me wrong: there is nothing wrong with pussy. Anyone who feels less than a man for not having fucked a pussy ought to rent himself one for a few hours, if need be. You'll see: there is no substitute for deep connectedness. Putting your dick into female plumbing is no guarantee of finding a heart that will complete you. It is no guarantee of an emotional experience beyond the most banal. But we didn't know that. The Aspen Experience did nothing to persuade us to settle contentedly down to a lifetime of gay sex. At that point, we were incapable of respecting ourselves fully, until we had done The Deed.
We headed back to school. The first night back, Will and I were preparing to have us a quickie and then off to bed. Will got side tracked telling jokes and ended up making a few humping motions on my tummy. He apparently enjoyed the sensation, and made a few more, very sensuously, this time.
Half jokingly, I made a remark: "Aww! Poor Willy ought to do that the right way," I said. Meaning that he could have my ass, if that's what he needed, that bad, right then. His reaction was spectacularly bad. Will reacted as if I had stabbed him. He let out a cry of dismay and distress, and dropped to my side, saying I was right. Saying that the whole male-male sex thing was wrong. He had been sledding at Christmas and ended up lying on top of this girl, on the toboggan, pressing into her butt.
"It just felt like Um! Girl! It felt right," he said. His dick didn't wilt, but he could not be comforted. At least not sexually, that night.
The next day, he was better. Especially after unloading his beautiful nuts into my mouth. He was laughing. He told me that, here I was, the instigator. The horny bad-influence seducer. Advocate of sucking and fucking and kissing and cuddling with boys. Here I was, a raw libido with no remorse and no second thoughts, "And you'll end up with a wife, living in suburbia with three kids and a dog," he laughed. Somehow it seemed possible. But unlikely.
I sure liked the sex I was having. I liked who I was having it with. I liked how it made me feel. I liked the way it made me deeply appreciate my lover, made me reach into myself and bring forth the best that I had, how it made me feel about my lover and about myself, as I exulted in my adoration of him and in my freedom from loneliness and emotional want. I could have stayed just like that for a thousand years. Fuck the wife. Fuck the dog. Especially fuck the kids.
When we weren't in bed, when we weren't in that damned lab, we were hiking. Oddly, as our bodies hardened, as the last vestiges of fat burned off, as my lover's texture changed beneath my hands, I thought I saw a change in my own body. We had just made each other cum wonderfully and we were just lying there together, chatting. Looking down, I asked Will, "Is it my imagination, or are my tits betting bigger?" He shrugged it off as imperceptible, if true. But I was a bit alarmed: this I definitely did not need. I had always been shy about my body and I didn't need something more to be shy about. I ruminated on it a bit. Definitely, my endocrine state had changed: from hard, isolated, celibate self-sufficiency to... connectedness. To a flow of almost-sympathy. To a tenderness, a reaching out to my lover, an ebb and flow of something across my boundaries. A loss of the hard edged sense of the boundary where I ended and Will began. There was a definite softness to my soul, now. Was it being reflected in my body? Worse yet: would I start to swish? Was I running a futile foot race with the Pink Reaper? Would he catch up to me, crown me with swishy ineffectuality? Was I to become what I, myself, found so puzzling and repugnant?
All those closeted years. I guess I had learned something about burying things like this: I decided that it was a very bad idea and resolved to confront this head-on. Every time a tiny, vague hint of swishiness loomed on my internal horizon, I would grab it, hold it to the light and inspect it. Usually, it would melt under the scrutiny and disappear. When it did not, there was always a good reason: it was an attitude that belonged with love-making; it was associated with an unresolved question. I simply filed the impulses back where they belonged, acknowledged their reason for existence, and they behaved themselves.
But they taught me something about lovemaking: to drop the gender role, the template, the this-is-what-a-boy-is-supposed-to-be-like, the measuring stick. In bed, they served no one. I banished them as best I could: if I wanted to feel feminine, if I wanted to feel dependent, if I wanted to feel dominant in bed, these were all okay. It was bed. It was lovemaking. It was exempt from the outside world's rules. How? Why? Who says? Because that was how it was. Because this whole thing was right. My soul knew it. Will's soul knew it too, if he just didn't listen to the background chatter of crap in his head. Because this was bigger than me, than him. Because the echoes of eternity spoke to me and told me: this love, this soul-connectedness trumps all other considerations.
When we made love, when we suckled in our joyous mutual connectedness, we often found ourselves holding hands. If we had a spare. One of us would reach out, disoriented and dreamy, for the other's hand and he would take it tenderly. Knowing, then, that his lover was getting close. Was feeling so very close. Feeling such deep, powerful love and connectedness. Feeling the approach of a deep seizure-like orgasm of exquisite soul-connectedness and tender love for the other boy. An orgasm that would plow through his emotions, rip a new path through his heart. Knowing his partner would need to convalesce, need to be held and comforted after this seizure of sorts. Need his rawness healed. Need to be brought back down to earth with tender understanding. Held, softly. We held hands as we sucked, as we reached out to one another with our hearts as well as our bodies, as we came helplessly with each other, taken out of ourselves by something huge and powerful and kind and very, very good. As our hearts melted with the closeness, with the tenderness and understanding, as we opened to one another and came. So close. So tender. Our trembling hearts made too tender. A wrenching convulsion of deep tender emotion. We touched each other, held onto each other, completed each other. Healed each other and set each other free, holding hands as we made love.
Our bodies hardened. Became marvelous permeable aerobic machines: give 'em oxygen and they'll carry you up and over that mountain, that mountain range, the distance measured in time, in food. Not in effort. The body was capable of putting out immense, sustained effort. Performing vast feats. Just give it oxygen. Will had begun to grow the slightest bit of hair in the center of his chest. I wasn't much for chest hair but, hey, it was Will. So it was cute. Besides, this was the boy whose body hair was... perfect.
I must have been on the rebound: Will would still ding me. He would even bring up legitimate criticisms: he said I was too pessimistic. That I bitched about politics too much. That I fooled around when I studied. I was able to field most of this without rancor now, either addressing or dismissing these, as they came up. When my folks called, they would take a moment to chat with Will, and he would visibly brighten and joke with them. The parent thing. The object of the parent game is, after all, to nurture, to sustain, to empower, to see to the creation and well-being of the future. To do this through the instrument of their sons and daughters. For all our objections to our parents, for all our adolescent suspicions of their motives, for all their ineptitudes -- big and small -- in doing the parent thing, the underlying purpose -- the object -- shown through. The wholesomeness and love of my family came through the phone line and poured all over Will. And he brightened visibly. Talking to my folks left him with a little glow that revealed itself in his kind and gentle attitude toward me, afterward. At least they acknowledged him. Remembered little facts about him. Showed him some gentle affinity. He'd report their jokes to me, afterward, with a silly smile.
In some sense. he was becoming family. In some sense, we had managed to sidestep coming out, discussing our private business with the folks. There was me, and there was him. And the school work was going well and both boys were growing up fine and strong and clean of limb and sharp and alert and articulate. My folks had the wit to let things ride.
I showed up for a calculus test. It was scheduled for the original, main auditorium of the university. As I arrived, I wondered if I had the right place: there was a magnificent pipe organ recital in progress. The delicate filigree of the high notes in exquisite counterpoint to a massive, thunderous basso that shook you to the bones. Amidst the magnificence, it was useless to study. I leaned back and let myself be taken by the Bach, lifted and exalted and instructed, and set back down on Earth. It ended and the organist received an enthusiastic ovation. He looked startled, as his attention was torn from his instrument and he suddenly realized that the auditorium had filled. He gathered his sheet music, stepped aside and flipped a switch.
His music had been so sensitive and detailed and delicate; the organist was so thoroughly, completely masculine. He scratched under his beard, hefted his briefcase. The floor opened and the console slid down smoothly into the basement. The floor closed over it. The audience applauded him again and he bowed and left.
I was taking rock climbing classes whenever I could. This time, I was in an advanced class with some crazy fuckers who wouldn't place proper protection. We were doing 5.5, 5.6, 5.7 -- even a bit of 5.8 -- plus some bouldering. On climbs like these, you didn't slip and fall. You didn't lose your balance and fall. You peeled loose suddenly and came hurtling down instantly. Either their protection would be flaky -- in danger of pulling out -- or the rope would refuse to run free, due to poor anchor placement. I didn't like being involved in climbing negligently. There is an ethic, as well as an aesthetic to climbing: a summit gained at the cost of taking unnecessary chances, at the cost of despoiling the wilderness, at the cost of abandoned gear, of injuries, of hard feelings, is a stolen summit. You hadn't really achieved it, you'd cheated. The object was to become capable of navigating the vertical realm confidently. To gain, as the book title says, the Freedom of the Hills.
At the same time, I took a class in ski mountaineering.
I took Bruce rock climbing, at his insistence. No sooner was I off the ground, than he began to badger me. I guess he was trying to extend his usual competitive behavior into the world of vertical rock. It did not belong there. It was frivolous: a distraction from the serious business of leading without taking a fall.
I was up about twenty feet. Not a lot, but a two-story ground fall onto rock wasn't going to help my condition any. I stopped to place protection. Nada. Diddly. Teeny, thin almost-cracks in the rock. In those days, we were just starting to try to avoid placing pitons. They tended to scar the rock. Later on, I was glad that I'd learned to climb during the piton years: in a hazardous alpine setting, there is nothing as instantly secure as a good piton, if you know how to use them. You could hang a truck from one. You just needed to place a few hundred 'till you had the routine down. There is a sound and a feel to a good piton, a rising tink, tink, tink, tink, as the resilient chrome-molybdenum steel comes to grip the rock.
I happened to have a thin steel blade, called a R.U.R.P.. Realized Ultimate Reality Piton: a thin, flat flake of chrome-moly steel with a couple of holes in it, for use in "incipient cracks." That's what I had: an incipient crack. Also an incipient pants-wetting, if I had to do the next section unprotected.
I stopped to make the placement and Bruce began ragging on me: "Placing protection so soon?" He gawked upwards.
For once, he was completely off base. "Wait 'till you get up here, then talk," I scowled down at him, turning to climb again. I was pissed and, making a big-ass bomb-proof placement, I led this fucked steep section and placed protection where it would force him to stay on my direct route. By the time he got to the R.U.R.P., he was shitting. Then he got to follow me straight up the steep stuff.
"I can see why you placed that piton, now," he said, shakily. He behaved for the rest of the climb, content to be belayed by me from above at every step.
Will was less into climbing rock than I. His brother George wanted to learn, though. In fact, his brother wanted to travel out West and go climbing over the summer. Summer plans began to form. Will and I would do a last minute shake-down trip, between finals and Outward Bound: Bruce suggested the Tarryall Range of Colorado. Then, Outward Bound for a month in the Gore Range, near Vail. Then a three week expedition into the Wind River Range in western Wyoming for some glacier work and alpine mixed ice and snow and rock. I asked my climbing teacher to suggest someone who might be willing to guide and teach the three of us rock climbing for a week or so, between Outward Bound and the Wind Rivers. He suggested a friend who made climbing gear for a living, and it was scheduled.
We had an extremely wet spring. A ten year drought had broken and there had been up to four feet of snow on the ground that winter, on campus. On the tenth of May, 1971, we got over a foot of extremely heavy, wet, sticky snow. Little one-inch branches would have ten inches of snow on them. It broke most of the deciduous trees -- all the non-native species -- right down to the ground. A week later, we had a bomb scare in the lab building while I was in the middle of a titration. I tried to continue the process, reaching in through the window, until the "troops" shooed us away. Will was laughing at my folly, as he hopped from foot to foot. He'd been washing up, on his way to take a leak, when the alarm sounded. You'd better not handle your dick with organic chemicals on your hands. Finally, he was forced to waddle off to a distant building, seeking relief. My turn to chortle.
I got a deal on a brand new pair of Bonna mountaineering skis: $35 on end-of-the-season clearance. They were twice as wide as a cross country ski, with a full length metal edge and a hickory sole. I put Silvretta mountaineering bindings on them, which are made to fit mountaineering boots, eliminating the need to change into and out of cross country shoes in the cold and snow. The bindings cost twice what the skis did. When I got them home, Will posed next to them, saying "I got a Bone-a." Seems like he did that once a day for two weeks. For a bright guy, he sure seemed to like that dumb line. When I got done with him, his was gonna need a rest. For sure, Will's "Bonna" was never neglected.
As the dreary, barren months of early springtime finally gave way to the merest beginnings of renewal, Will and I made preparations for an epic summer of climbing. We placed our equipment orders with REI, continued our daily conditioning climbs and sought topographic maps of the Wind Rivers. The government hadn't finished creating them yet, but a fellow at the United States Geological Survey got us a set of "blue lines," which were blueprint copies made from the incomplete originals. We had to add our own labels and magnetic declination lines, but we had the first 7 1/2 minute quadrangle maps ever made of our destination. We combined them into mega-maps of four sheets each, with the magnetic declination line running across each quadrant, for compass shots. They just had to be kept out of direct sunlight, lest they fade. We opened a few and studied them in awe. Never had I seen terrain this rugged. The maps were nothing, compared with the real thing.
Meanwhile, I had learned to torch and wax and cork, to kick and glide. By the time I finally took Will up ski mountaineering, the snow was melting over a foot a day, like somebody had stuck a pin in it. We had a pleasant 6 or 8 mile ski hike and of course Will learned in no time, being the superb skier that he was.
It is tempting to dwell on that spring. I was in the best condition of my life, the weather was glorious, the mountains were beautiful and so was the lover by my side. Glorious, indeed, were those waning weeks of spring. Glorious, indeed, my lover. We were in the prime of our lives and a summer of high adventure lay before us.