Montana Wolf

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Seven Miles to Heaven

I finally found my hiking legs in this land of clouds and mountains. Steep mountains. I never dreamed I'd return to any likeness of the Sangre de Cristo's straight up and down. It was a kick-butt trek with over a 1000-foot elevation gain. But oh, the splendor.

The destination was high-mountain Salmon reservoir, the snow melt water source for Juneau. There was also a dam built in 1914 that resembled a ruin of Tikal, with plants growing from its deteriorating walls. Got to say the deep, curved structure was beautiful; the world's first constant angle arch dam with its own resident Bald Eagle perched on top. He watched everything we did, as if glad to have some amusement. I sat and wrote while R fished for brook trout. A thoroughly pissed off Kingfisher let loose with a cry and zipped by R's head as he reeled in another. He caught about a dozen and cleaned six at water's edge. Mountain goats walked the craggy peaks at snow's edge. Lemon-yellow monkey flower grew at water's edge. We were alone at the top of the world.

The sun was a dang welcome surprise as we departed, sending shafts of light through the deep, mossy forest. I saw many old plant friends this day, including deep purple monkshood and my favorite petite red and yellow western columbine. Wilson's warbler hopped among the thickets; Varied and Hermit Thrushes were plentiful. A little off-trail path delivered us to a stunningly calm bog and a forest of protruding dead tree snags topped with numerous bald eagles, many of them immature browns. It takes four years for Balds to turn stunning black and while. Until then they resemble Goldens. A family of Harlequin ducks skittered among floating logs.

It's still hard to grasp all of the water. Every few feet a waterfall interrupted the trail. I filled my water bottle w/o fear of contamination. Moss and dampness covered everything; old growth spruce and hemlock towered overhead. I was enmeshed in emerald green plush.

The dinner table last night consisted of a bowl of fresh crab legs (compliments of a friend), an ear of corn and those tasty, firm pinkish trout. I think I can stop taking cod liver oil capsules. Perhaps exchange them for vitamin D, which most everyone up here swallows in the land of scant sun.

Drop the cod liver oil caps, perhaps. D to replace sunlight? Nope. Can't go thar. It's too much like surrender.


  1. Giving up on sunlight. No, I couldn't do that, either. I want to see the other, spend time luxuriating in the green and water. But I'm addicted to that sunshine!

  2. Oh, the sun is overrated. That deep green is so fresh and healing!
    Thanks, Christina for such verdant prose.
    Love, Carole