Fall comes early in Alaska, so most of these pics were taken in August or September. It’s now November, and I’m back in California, central coast, where fall takes its sweet time. In truth, I’m not sure the winters here are really worthy of the name. If no one is slipping on the ice and breaking their legs or otherwise endangered by the cold, crappy weather, then it’s hard for me to call that a “winter.” Not that I’m complaining or anything. It’s just that fall in these parts is just sort of starting to catch up to the fall of two months back. So, even though I’m remiss in posting these pics, they are still timely for folks in the Lower 48.
A few years back, before coming to McCarthy, I worked a two summers in Glacier Bay National Park. The glaciers there, however, were not very accessible. For one thing, they were Tidewater Glaciers, meaning that they terminated in the water, i.e., the Pacific ocean. One summer I worked on a tour boat, so I saw them every bloody day, but actually getting up onto the glaciers was a whole ‘nother story. Watching the glaciers, day after day, made me feel a bit like a Medieval peasant gazing up at the lord’s manor, up on the hill.
My inhibitions, fighting my intuition Premature premonition Showin me the demolition of these phony niggas So ahead of my time Even when I rhyme about the future I be reminiscing ~ J. Cole, Fire Squad We’re starting to see proper sunsets here in McCarthy, which gives me the distinct impression that summer is on the wane, this despite the fact that it was so hot the other day that even on a short, fairly easy hike, I came down with a mild touch of heat exhaustion. It’s starting to get dark late at night. If I have to get up and take a piss, I can still see my way around and navigate, but it’s dark enough that I have to pay attention lest I turn my ankle on a rock. It won’t be long before I’ll have to dust off the ole headlamp for late night trips to the toilet (i.e., the first bush I can find).
I’m 48 hours into my fast. It’s been 2 days since I last ate. That leaves another 24-30 hours remaining. I haven’t done much by way of fasting in my life, but the little that I have done has been pretty beneficial. Mostly I fast for physical reasons, to cleanse and to give the digestive system a chance for some repairs and maintenance. I’ve been having digestive issues over the past several months, so this fast was prompted by a desire to let the digestive system rest and perhaps balance out the acid levels. After my fast, I’ll reevaluate my diet.
It was a bit spontaneous, but I decided to hike Bonanza trail. I cheated and drove a wheeler up most of the way, but I hiked the most hellacious and steepest section. It will be a slow recovery for the knee. Last time it took several years before I even began to feel like I was nearing 100%. I’m resting it quite a bit, but it’s mid-summer and the needs of my soul were greater to me than resting the knee. So up I went. The views from the riddgeline above Bonanza Mine are nearly 360 degrees, and there’s always something about getting way up high that gives me a healthy sense of perspective. I always get just a touch of vertigo when I’m way up in the clouds, so the whole experience can get quite surreal, even spiritual one might say. The hiking was good for me, too. I’ve been doing daily walks, but it’s not the same thing as a few hours of vigorous hiking, goat-like, up a steep incline. Note: Those are …
Like most little Alaskan bush communities, we celebrate the Fourth of July with great gusto. We’ve got creative floats in a community parade (and since our parade line is rather small, all the floats circle around and parade through downtown a second time); we get jiggy with tacky red-white-and-blue apparel/decor; and, of course, since this is Alaska, we drink a fifth to celebrate the Fourth. So, we’ve got plenty of the traditional flag waving enthusiasm, but McCarthy has a disproportionate amount of free-spirited, open-minded folk, and there’s enough of a hippie influence out here that being patriotic doesn’t mean being a hater — quite the opposite, in fact.
There’s epic mountains and breaching whales and raging rivers and scary bears and grizzled men with beards, but one of the natural features that most intrigues me about Alaska is the light, specifically the yuge swings of light and dark. The weirdness of the solar cycles gives the place a certain mystical feel. Most of the year, this area of Alaska is gaining or losing about 5 minutes of light a day. Things are always changing, always in flux. I never feel like anything is static or settled. Perhaps it’s a Buddhist-y thing, for me, or maybe it’s just the nature of nature itself, a part of life that we tend to forget in modernity, where we spend a good deal of our lives indoors and/or in front of screens, mostly disconnected from the natural world we evolved to live in. Whatever the reason, it feels refreshingly primitive to me to be in a place as dynamic as Alaska, especially on summer solstice where you can stay out all night and never need a flashlight …