A Thousand Stars In The Sky

By Len Backus

"A thousand stars in the sky make me realize,
That you are the one that I adore."

-Song by Kathy Young

Those were the words in my mind as I approached the shore of Dream Lake in pitch blackness at nearly 11,000 feet of elevation in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. During that long summer after 8th grade, I had first danced to this song with a little wisp of a girl who sat in front of me that school year. In my high school years, those words would get me out onto the dance floor with her at the teen dances. This is still the favorite dating era song of me and my 8th grade sweetheart, Kathy Spaeth (now Backus). It will still get me out onto the dance floor with her every time it is played! And as for that pixyish little girl -- I love her much more than back then, but not as much as I will tomorrow.


But now, looking upwards, there seemed to be not merely a thousand stars but rather a million stars. This was my third straight morning at Dream Lake. What an appropriate name for such a beautiful place -- and time. Each morning I started out at the trailhead two hours before dawn. Carrying a heavy camera and tripod, my flashlight kept me on the trail as it meandered along the switchbacks. By the third morning I was able to make the entire climb with no rest breaks. Coming from 750 feet of elevation in the Midwest, the air is thin at 11,000 feet and my lungs protested. My right knee complained to me just a few times, but even then it was only while on the way back down. I had undergone knee surgery successfully just 6 months before this wonderful trip in 2007 to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Thank you Doctor McKenzie!

Each morning by flashlight I carefully set up my tripod on a huge boulder at the edge of the lake. Then I patiently waited for the subtle, pre-dawn light to bathe the surface of Hallett Peak on the horizon and to light up the mountain's reflection on the water's shimmering surface in front of me. Each morning the light, wind and sky conditions were slightly different. But this morning I got what I had come for and I snapped many shots. I hiked back down this last time with a great picture and the added bonus of a renewed memory of the time when that cute little girl had sat in front of me in 8th grade!

Len Backus is the owner of www.LongRangeHunting.com. He has been a long range hunter since the 1990's and is as likely to bag his game with a camera as with a rifle or a specialty handgun.

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