Monday, June 7, 2010
It is six days until I depart for Alaska on June's newmoon. The to-do list is daunting. I'm down to the little things that require much more concentration. Like checking my Verizon coverage along my route; figuring out cd's (the bank kind); doing mail forwarding...those mundane tasks that gobble up one's life.I didn't let them do that yesterday. I answered, instead, the desire to climb to the saddle of Sharkstooth Peak. One more time into the high mountains, through the virginal green of newly-leafed aspens; across rushing streams of snow melt and mountain meadows lush with marsh marigold. It was just what the soul required. For there is nothing like stepping out of the trees at 11,500 feet and into the barren expanse above timberline.
It is about exposure. Moving beyond the protective cover of the forest. Like in the summer during storm season when I'm the tallest thing on loose rock and lightening makes my hair stand on end. Yesterday it was more about the vulnerability of movement, apt metaphor for my life. The trail disappeared under snowfields as I was forced to bushwhack my way up the mountain. At times I stepped onto slushy drifts and sunk up to my crotch, glad I had the wisdom to carry a hiking stick.
Up, up...one foot in front of the next, from mud to rock to snow under a sun that was eerily hot for this time of year. I took a seat on the saddle at 12,000 feet, below Sharkstooth's craggy point. The feel was one of stunning rawness as I viewed 360-degrees, south into New Mexico and west towards the Sangre de Cristos. Then I faced northwest, Alaska-way and an unknown future that yawned before me.
There will be no map for this journey. I can't even be sure my footprints going up will be there to follow going down. Perhaps, like this day, they would melt into the earth, leaving me exposed amidst nature's grandeur.