Nascence of the Sueño Salvaje


Nascence of the Sueño Salvaje

“A great many people, and more all the time, live their entire lives without ever once sleeping out under the stars.” - Alan S. Kesselheim

My wife was to rue buying the present for me. It seemed so innocent. A book. Lucid prose and full color illustrations. From the cover, a man peered, only the upper half of his face visible, the rest of him submerged in a river.


The title? Microadventures- Local Discoveries for Great Escapes, by British author and self-described “Adventurer” Alastair Humphreys. In the book, Alastair details how to engage in minimalist, inexpensive jaunts away from the ordinary. Simply sleeping outside somewhere not too far from home, he asserts, can inject a dash of vim into the bloodstream of a sluggish life. No need to spend a bunch of money or journey to an exotic location. Where you are now is exotic to somebody!

I have always felt the same way. And yet… Alastair’s excitement bled through and proved inspirational.

I decided to invite some of my mates to join me in an endeavor to sleep outside at least once per month during the year 2016. Nothing fancy; home in the morning. Are you in? “Yes”, they said.

How would we refer to these outings? Alastair already appropriated the term microadventures. (So simple, so evocative, so open-ended!) Bravo #microadventure!

Since most of us guys are Spanish/English bilingual, we settled on the term Sueño Salvaje , Wild Sleep.

Hey, at least it alliterates!

Thus it was that I came to  send the following email to the select company:

Men of Darkness,

After the rousing success of our last rugged campout, (in which Steve and Eman wandered for hours in the Sandian darkness, Daniel, Eman, and Patrick’s combined memory power was insufficient to recall that Alexandre Dumas wrote The Count of Monte Cristo, and 4 am was bedtime) I would herein like to propose, present and articulate the proximate saga!

As can be noted in the attached photo, the new moon will be huddling nearly invisible in the nocturnal darkness on January 9-10, 2016.


This vast darkness will be punctured and punctuated by a dramatic skyfull of brilliant stars.

Shall we flee the besmirchment of city light pollution and laugh, sing, read and dream under those selfsame stars on Saturday night January 9?


Departure time: 1:30 pm Saturday, January 9, 2016

The plan will be to attempt an ascent of Cabezon Peak on Saturday afternoon, camp right at the base of the peak, cook over the fire, sleep under the stars, and return to Abq in time to make it to a noon meeting.

Who is with me?

Who will tolerate no rivalry towards our grand Creator’s fantastic starlight? (2 Kings 10:16)

Yours Truly,

Patricio Arbol

P.S. As always, by invitation only

P.P.S. With regard to the “by invitation only” clause: wives of members in good standing are, of course, always welcome!

The first such official Sueño Salvaje, took place on a frigid (for New Mexico) night in January 2016. Me, Danny, Marcos, Emmanuel, and Odaro drove out to El Cabezon.


Mighty El Cabezon!

After bulldozing through 10 inches of snow in my venerable Volvo, we hiked up onto the shoulder of the peak, admired the sunset, and descended to where we would sleep near a fire sans tents in the snow.


Celebrating the arrival!


Topped out

The temperature descended to about 10 degrees F. We cooked savory foil wrapped meals over hot juniper wood coals, sipped Cabernet, and slept fitfully, shivering, as the sky exploded images of Orion’s, Ursa’s, and Pleiades above us.


Wine and Flames

"The odor of burning juniper is the sweetest fragrance on the face of the earth, in my honest judgment; I doubt if all the smoking censers of Dante’s paradise could equal it. One breath of juniper smoke, like the perfume of sagebrush after rain, evokes in magical catalysis, like certain music, the space and light and clarity and piercing strangeness of the American West. Long may it burn." - Edward Abbey

Several of the guys had no experience in the outdoors. The temperature was colder than we expected. We had not counted on snow, and Emman burned his paella.

Despite all this, we had a great time!


Danny stokes the breakfast fire!

It was, as Alastair Humphreys says: “a refresh button for busy lives”!



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  2. Dianne

    Sounds like an excellent, exhilarating time. I love looking at the sky on a dark, crisp cold night. Sleeping out there would be an adventure. Enjoyed this experience very much, Patrick, thanks for sharing.

    1. Patrick (Post author)

      Dianne, glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading.

  3. Bethany Hill

    One of the most fascinating NM landscapes. Even more beautiful in winter. Great choice!

    1. Patrick (Post author)

      Indeed! As you well know, the darkness is profound.

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