Together they hiked over to the creek. It was a small creek with clear icy water that was run off from Old Baldy. It tasted fresh and clear. Tobal asked why the creek was not frozen.
"It was frozen earlier", Rafe said. "Now it gets above freezing during the day and just below freezing at night. Because the water is moving so fast it does not freeze anymore. It will remain flowing now until next winter."
They emptied the old water and refilled their canteens. The air near the creek was fresh with the tang of spring thaw but Tobal knew it was going to be a cold night. He felt elated but also tired and exhausted from the days journey. He was hungry and asked Rafe when they were going to eat.
"First thing is to set up camp", Rafe told him. "Then you can eat. Set up a shelter, get your fire going, and then you cook food if you have it. First we've got to find a good place for a campsite. I'm going to take it easy on you tonight. It's not going to rain so we can sleep out under the stars. Our sleeping bags will keep us warm enough if we set up our fire near a boulder or rock so it reflects the heat back onto us, We will need to keep it going because it's going to get cold tonight."
"This will make a good spot", he said walking over to a rock out cropping on an otherwise fairly level area clear of brush. We build the fire here. First dig a trench in the snow so we are down out of the wind. Use your snow shoes to shovel."
Together they scooped an area clear in front of a rock outcropping and set their packs down.
"Now we've got to find some firewood before it get dark", Rafe told him. "Look for old dead branches that are not lying on the ground. We need wood small enough to cut up or break by hand."
Together they gathered quite a bit of wood including pieces from a splintered log that had fallen against another tree and not touched the ground. The wood was dry and they were able to break off some of the bigger branches. This would help hold the fire overnight.
"Next the fire", Rafe said, crouching in the snow near a small pile of the wood they had found. "We've got to have tinder to get the fire going." He pulled some tinder out of his pack and Tobal watched as he skillfully used the fire starter, shaving pieces of magnesium with his knife into the small pile of tinder. Then he struck sparks along the side of the fire starter by rubbing it with his knife blade. Some of the sparks landed in the pile of dry tinder. Rafe blew carefully on those sparks and they brightened and turned into a small flame. Carefully nursing the flame with small dry twigs, he slowly added larger pieces until there was a roaring blaze.
"We'll let that burn for awhile", said Rafe with satisfaction. "Now we've got to get our beds made. Got your knife? Cut some small branches from these pine trees to sleep on. No one in their right mind sleeps on the ground if they can help it. Make a mattress about one foot deep. It will create an air cushion underneath so you won't get so cold. If you do it right, it's like sleeping on a bed."
Tobal had never heard of anything like that.