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Haystack Mountain

It's not much of a mountain but when my parents took us there when I was eight, it was huge. We started up its slopes but didn't reach the top. I returned at eighteen to climb it again. There was a goat on its peak that let me scratch behind its ears a bit before moving on to attend to goat business someplace else.

The night before, I had camped alone on the point of a long mesa about one quarter mile west and hiked across to Haystack just after sunrise. No one else was out there. That afternoon I hiked back to camp then to the westernmost point of the mesa and found a small cave to take a nap in. Cave crickets covered the roof of the cool little grotto but they left me alone as I dozed.

Waking before sunset, I hiked a circuitous route back to camp, spotting a pair of coyotes out for a hunt, stopping at a stock tank to drink before trotting on, ears forward and noses down close to the ground. They never knew they had been observed. The night was clear with the nearest light pollution several miles south at Mangum and more from Altus a few more miles south. C130s piloted by trainees cruised the night sky from Altus, banking over the Granite Mountains before circling back to base. It had been a while since I had enjoyed the sight of so many stars.

Owls hooted nearby.

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