Monday, August 23, 2010

How to Name a Mountain Pass

Here is the Finding the Boats We Sunk recipe for "How to name a Mountain Pass": First, you take a gorgeous day up in Hatcher Pass. Then you add a fearless friend named Dave (his name doesn't have to be Dave. You can use someone else, as long as he is fearless and says, 'oh, yeah, 4 hours, 5 max, no problem.") Make sure this friend does not listen to the rambling advice of the prospector (thrown into the mix below). Throw in a retired prospector named Buck Rogers (again, he doesn't have to be a Buck, but he does have to have not seen anyone in a few days and have a penchant for chattiness. Warning! Though the chattiness may sound unimportant, listen closely to his advice on the location of "big black rocks", "hog backs", "spray paint" and when he says, "oh yeah, that pass is really far", believe him.) Buck, with his Groundhog: Add a liberal helping of a mountain goat named Willow, the best rock climbing dog around. And finally, me, who has always wanted to take Craigie Creek Trail up over Dogsled Pass and around to Archangel Road.
We should have known we were in trouble when the MOST detailed guidebook said "once you reach Dogsled Pass, look up and to the right. There you will find the pass that will take you to Fairangel lake and mine". Hmmm. Up and to the right are three seemingly good choices. On the way, we found gold, radioactive green moss, a small canister with change mounted to a confusing directional sign (why, so you can call a cab?) and helped start the formation of a black cloud (I'm quite sure it was our lack of serious faces that angered the Pass gods) that then traveled to Wasilla to rain on Bumpus ballfields, cancelling my softball game. We did make it up and over a pass. I think we were the first people there, because this was the kind of climb that keeps my mother up at night, rightfully so. At least I hope we were the first, because we named it Willow Pass, for the amazing nimble feet of Willers, my bud and sidekick.
And now, as I sit and write about the ease at which anyone can name a mountain pass, I see the almost full moon in the darkening sky and realize fall is upon us, with the changing colors in the mountains- yellows, deep reds, and the crisp air that bites in the morning as Chum greets my buckets. It looks to be a beautiful fall. Bittersweet for me as always, in Alaska.
From "Roses, Late Summer", M. Oliver:
And over one more set of hills,
along the sea,
the last roses have opened their factories of sweetness
and are giving it back to the world.
If I had another life
I would want to spend it on some
unstinting happiness.
I would be a fox, or a tree
full of waving branches.
I wouldn't mind being a rose
in a field full of roses.
Fear has not yet occurred to them, nor ambition.
Reason they have not yet though of.
Neither do they ask how long they must be roses, and then what.
Or any other foolish question.

1 comment:

  1. great account!
    let's do it again!