Ryan and I went up Canal Canyon last night at around seven thirty. The moon didn't come out at all during the walk and the stars in Orion seemed to have multiplied by a magnitude of three. Breathtaking.
It's only when the moon is absent and there's snow on the ground that I realize how much light the stars give. We were able to find walk the entire way without a light, only using the headlight to search for lion tracks and to look at the crystals in the snow.
The light given by the stars is gentle, only allowing for shades of gray and black. In that absence of artificial light, one sees the shimmering colors in the stars themselves, accentuated by the planet's unwavering hues of pink, yellow and blue.
We ended up up by the old sweatlodge site in an aspen grove surrounded by pine and maple. It's a place I've been going to for close to ten years when in need of some air and space, I used to go there almost every day while building the cabin.
A creek meanders down the hill there, beneath its frozen crust, percolating and bubbling in small resonant places between itself and the ice. Last night it got louder as the night grew older, whether that was because of some physical reason or our own senses heightening, we didn't know. Either way, it was fun to think about and provided something for the mind to focus on besides the smallness that comes on often after gazing at the stars and thinking about where one really is.
The way back down was too quick, and when we got to the truck, the headlights seemed rude as they lit our way back home.