The bar is set a bit higher in Alaska, so far as rating trails is concerned. A hike rated “Difficult” in the Lower 48 is more likely to be rated closer to “Easy” when up in the wilds of the Great North. Hence a trail rated “Difficult” in Alaska is usually a hike that has nary a trail at all. When in Alaska I don’t rate a trail “Difficult” if I’m not doing some serious bush wacking. Such was the case on a hike I did on Sunday, along McCarthy Creek — and by “creek” I mean a raging river. I had expectations for an easy go of it, but parts of the trail had been washed out by the aforementioned “creek.” After getting through the worst of it, though, I was still smiling, albeit a little less enthusiastic than usual, as you can see from the photo, because it’s hard to not be happy with views like these.
Plans change and housing conditions get rearranged — such is often the nature of life in my Alaskan bush village. I had planned to be in a cabin, commuting (i.e. walking) back and forth from cabin and work, but things shifted, one of which was a knee injury that had me looking at my options for staying in town, where I work. A hundred years ago, McCarthy was quite the happenin’ spot in Alaska. This was before Anchorage was even on the map, merely a place to slap a tent down. McCarthy, at the time, was a regular sin city, just four miles down the road from the site of the most profitable copper mine in modern history. And like anywhere else in Alaska, if you had a spot of land, you could always put up a wall tent. It was a quick and cheap way to put a roof over your head. So, in that same spirit, I decided to put up a tent in town, down by the river, where I can listen …
“Every minute, every single day, the equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters our oceans. In the name of profit and convenience, corporations are literally choking our planet with a substance that does not just “go away” when we toss it into a bin. Since the 1950s, some 8.3bn tons of plastic have been produced worldwide, and to date, only 9% of that has been recycled. Our oceans bear the brunt of our plastics epidemic – up to 12.7m tons of plastic end up in them every year.” Usually after reading something like this, you’d expect to be shamed into recycling more. Thankfully, those days may be mostly behind us, because anyone paying attention to plastic pollution is starting to understand that personal choices won’t stop plastic and the onslaught of waste and toxins produced by consumer capitalism. So long as a company can turn a profit, which is the engine that powers capitalism, they will pollute and pollute, until the whole world fails.
“I’ve never seen so many dogs in one town, and, you know, where there’s no problem or anything.” ~ McCarthy Tourist, circa May 2018 Photo courtesy of Luke McKinney, www.mckinneymakesmedia.com/
Off I go, for another retreat – this time though, I’m serving not sitting. There’s a few hours of meditation each day in group sits, where everyone sits together in the meditation hall, so I’ll get in at least 3 hours a day, maybe more, but most of my time will be spent making meals and cleaning up. KP duty.
I just finished reading the short novel, True Grit, and I think it’s most definitely an under-appreciated American classic. Yes, a classic: a novel that is both artistically compelling as well as fascinating for its exploration of post-Civil War America and the mythology of the frontier. Many are familiar with True Grit via the films, starring John Wayne (1969) and Jeff Bridges (2010), but the novel does something that the films have not yet quite been able to capture, focused as they are on the rough-and-tumble male stars. Portis’ novel explores the life and world of Mattie, the tough, precocious young girl who is intent on avenging her father’s death — and is intent on taking charge of the task, personally, to make certain it gets done.
I’ve met a good deal of transients in the last ten years, folks without permanent addresses, primarily working seasonal jobs that allow them a free-bird flexibility. Untethered from the office desk and the corporate Nine-to-Five schedule, one has the ability to hit the road as the spirit leads — take a trip for a month or two (or more) and explore the world. I’ve met many of my fellow free spirits in or near America’s spectacular national parks, most notably in Alaska. So I thought it might be of particular interest to some of my transient nature-loving friends that Trump & Cronie$ are in the process of $elling off nearly a million acres of public land, so as to accelerate fracking.