Also on this weekend’s hike, as I stood at the top, socked in, surrounded by the white foggy clouds, visibility severely limited, I can’t help but notice that there’s also a different sort of quiet than I usually experience. Typically when I stand at the top of Bonanza or any other epic peak, there is a sort of silence of the vastness, and in the vastness, something that adds to the mountain top experience of standing in solitude above the world, somewhat god-like. There often isn’t much to hear, just maybe the wind brushing along rock, but it makes for an epic sort of hush.
On this foggy day, though, I can’t see the world below, there is no silence of vastness. It’s a silence of blankness. I’m surrounded by white, and it feels like a suspended moment from childhood, like a blanket fort, like I’m surrounded by white sheets, and it’s late, and everyone else is sleeping. It’s some sort of tantalizing no place, it’s a place to whisper secrets, perhaps secrets that we never knew existed, and perhaps these become humble epiphanies, but they remain secrets still, secrets that we are free to feel because it seems like they will forever remain within the empty blankness, held somehow, in the no place.
Interesting article written by a Christian whose encounter with Buddhism actually softened him to religion, leading him back to Christianity. That’s a similar story to my own.
Quote: “The notion of dominionism falsely teaches within some Christian circles that the planet is ours to use as we please. And some even go so far as to suggest that anything we can do to help hasten the end-times gets us that much closer to heralding God’s kingdom on earth.
Buddhism, however, teaches simplicity, humility and intentional care for all of creation. Practices of mindfulness and humility help us loosen our grasp on personal desire and avail ourselves to the excesses and insensitivity of our habits. When we regain a healthier sense of our own places within a much larger, very delicate ecosystem, we not only treat our surroundings with more care; we treat ourselves with greater care as well.”
Photo is mine, from my recent trip to the Nizina River, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
The Nizina River runs wild again. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
After navigating the snow machines around and through tricky turns and hellacious hills, it was worth it. Got to see a few great ice caves out in the glacier this morning.
To give you a sense of proportion to how big one of the caves was:
Last night at the beginning of sunset. Out for a climb up onto the glacier at “the toe.” Overlooking the valley where the town of McCarthy sits.
Keep working for change, friends. People know that our country has a lot of problems and that the cliche political answers and typical quick fixes of the major parties haven’t worked.
In the 1880s and 1890s, a prairie wildfire swept through American politics. The generation of pioneers that had taken the risk to head out west and take advantage of Abe Lincoln’s Homestead Act, where our government literally gave away free land to any poor and working class people, had successfully battled terrible weather and intense loneliness. They had worked their butts off to become farmers and ranchers, and made a good life for themselves. But when railroad barons, Wall Street bankers, and oil monopolists began to squeeze them and make it tougher and tougher to make a living farming and ranching, they rose up and started organizing a populist movement that changed American politics and policies. States like the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma rebelled against pro-big business politicians, and much of what they demanded- breaking up the big corporate trusts, tougher financial regulations, easier credit, Social Security, a minimum wage, an 8 hour work day and no child labor, women’s suffrage, stronger labor unions- eventually became incorporated in the reforms of the Progressive era of the early 1900s and the New Deal of the 1930s.
I took this picture last night, camping in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, near to McCarthy where I am lingering after working the summer. No photoshoping or Instagramming. You don’t really see the sunsets, per se, when surrounded by mountains, but the setting sun can make the peaks glow like they’ve got a giant neon light bulb on the inside. When contrasted with the blue creek water and the trees lined on either side, it is a perfect ending to the day.
An encouraging article on sustainable projects being implemented around the world.
“…human consumption has exceeded our planet’s capacity to regenerate…It is now estimated that 86% of the world’s population live in countries that require more from nature than their ecosystems can provide. According to the Global Footprint Network, if everybody were to live like Americans, it would take four Earths to support the global population. The U.S. was ranked 33 on the 2014 environmental performance index (EPI). Consequently, several countries have begun to adopt the ecological footprint model, which demonstrates the energy and resources consumed in
each country per person to raise awareness and educate populations about resource demand…”
Click on the link below to see the kinds of sustainable practices that other nations are implementing. It is important, I think, in the U.S. to realize that there are a lot of amazing possibilities for sustainable living. Right now we are stuck in a rut, chained to an old way of living that doesn’t inspire the next generation. But if we were to put our collective energies into building a sustainable economy, we could create something far more beautiful and life giving.
Photo note: Taken two days ago. Fall colors are gorgeous here in McCarthy.
Hiking up in the clouds. Lots of mountains here in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
Destination: Bonanza mine. This was one of the mines that was a part of the most lucrative and profitable copper mining ventures of all time. And behind me in this picture are the ruins.
Fall in McCarthy, AK. The leaves are changing early this year and there is a chill in the air.
Near to McCarthy are a pair of glaciers. They are easily accessible. With a pair of cramp-ons, a hiker can hop on top and walk around on the glacier in search of cool little blue ponds and other interesting formations.
I went out for target practice with my friend Dave a few days ago. We took this NRA good ole boy picture, and I faded the color to make it look like 1974. Yes, I advocate for more gun control and law enforcement of gun laws, but I also live in Alaska, and there are many guns in this state.
Once or twice a week, I hike to this stream to get my drinking water (and coffee water). For most of the summer, this spot has a lot of mosquitoes, and I usually rush to fill my water jugs and bottles. But the mosquitoes are clearing out, so today I lingered a bit. It was a nice, sunny day, and I enjoyed this idyllic spot.
A bit of a break from the hectic summer work schedule. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself at a writer’s workshop. This picture was snapped while we were discussing an essay from the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik, “The Death of A Fish.” Tonight is the Word Jam. Open mic style. Yours truly will be making his first spoken word appearance.
A random bench sits by the river, the McCarthy Creek. However, the creek is way too badass of a river to merely be a “creek.”
This particular bench quite clearly spent her professional career as a seat in someone’s car or truck. After the car or truck stopped running, she retired. To sit and enjoy the peace and quiet with the occasional visitor. Like myself, someone who has come to enjoy an enriching phone conversation with an old friend.