Unless you ice fish, it’s not quite time to drag out the tackle. According to the calendar Spring won’t begin for a month.
It’s not quite time to plant spuds either. There is still frost in the mornings and snow on the plains.
Yet, I can feel the outdoor’s pull. Two months ago a giant weak heat tab barely skimmed the peaks of southern islands. Today it’s power has grown and its arc has ascended. This week I can feel it on my face and the back of my jacket.
Sunday’s sun pulled me from the house. A reflective mood pushed me along for a walk to the Petroglyphs.
In the broad sense, petroglyphs are rock carvings. In Wrangell, Alaska, petroglyphs refers to Petroglyph Beach State Historic Park.
Fifteen minutes along the salt water brings you to a drive way, that leads both to the Observation Deck at Petroglyphs Beach and a private residence complete with a large black lab.
The Observation Deck, which appears to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, has a collection of informative kiosks and replica samples of carvings found on the beach. The kiosks suggest that tracings of petroglyphs should be done on the replicas and not the actual ones. The deck also has great views of Stikine River delta and Zimovia Straits.
This Sunday, I wasn’t interested in what modern man had extrapolated from ancient designs. I took the stairs to the beach. Sunday morning was high tide, so viewing the petroglyphs was out.
It didn’t matter. The warm sun, an expanse of island dotted salt water, and the knowledge that 7,000 years ago someone was making grooves in rock at this particular spot brought all the elements for a period of relaxed reflection.
There were two other people at Petroglyphs. A woman lying on her side picking through the broken sea shells and rocks. I didn’t interrupt to see what she had gained. Another man sat on a rock and petted his dog. Soon I found my own rock.
Give me, kind heaven, a private station,
A mind serene for contemplation.
Fables, John Gay, 1738
I didn’t catch any fish. I didn’t plant any spuds, but I found what I needed on Sunday.
Although my blogs are written and viewed from computers, I really don't care much for the new technologies. Just a personal thing. However, I do keep a Facebook page, and as a result I was recently reacquainted with an old friend.
I attended Diver's Institute of Technology on the Ballard Ship Canal in Seattle in 1982. In 1983 I worked for American Oilfield Divers, Broussard, LA.
Jap Commercial Helmet at DIT, Sep 1982.
One of my classmates and fellow workers was Donald Tice. He left the Gulf sometime in 1983. I hadn't talked to him or seen him since that time. Sometime around the first of January, 2010, I got a friend request from Tice on Facebook. Of course I accepted.
DIT Class 108-82. Tice is top left. I am bottom left.
What I didn't know was that Tice was planning a hunting trip for 2010. This is not just a pickup truck and case of beer hunting trip. It is 1000 miles and about 30 days running down a river (we will disclose the location later). Hunting, Fishing and Photography along the way. We hope to make a DVD or two from the raw footage, and possibly a book.
Caribou, moose, bears and wolves will be the hunted species.
There is a lot of planning left, but the framework revolves around flying in to the boat on 1 September and flying back to Anchorage on 1 October.
To make it easier I followed Ernest Hemingway’s thoughts on how to write a novel, “Write one true sentence. Then follow it with more true sentences.” ( I believe I am paraphrasing.)
I have lived most of my life in Montana. External circumstances and my own personal drive pushed me to Augusta, Montana when I was 13 years old. I went without family.
Sunrise from the Sun River Winter Elk Range, January 2009.
I am not sure if I adopted Augusta, or if some of the great folks there adopted me, but most of my sunrises have been seen from the mountains and foothills of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front. (Link to a taste of Montana's Rocky Mountain Front) Some call it, “America’s Serengeti,” although no Thompson’s gazelle flourish there.
I’ve always been a bit restless. Leaving Augusta frequently for Panama, Louisiana, Army, commercial diving, and other pursuits. In a year or so Augusta, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the people or Montana would beckon me back.
Not long ago, the restlessness returned. My feet wanted to move. My eyes wanted to see. My heart wanted experience.
Alaska had whispered in my ear for decades, but I had remained away. Now, I was going.
Southeast Alaska in general and Wrangell, Alaska in particular.
Kunk Creek, Etolin Island, SE Alaska, August 2009.
Very different the two. Augusta, Montana receives about 14 inches of precipitation per year; Wrangell about 80. Hiking along a stream in either place is similar. Trees are much the same--predominantly conifers and deciduous bushes between. Although, there are many more and they are more thickly packed in SE Alaska. Visibly the streams are mirrors. Clear water churns over boulders and gravel. Tails of Montana trout compare favorably with tails of Alaska salmon and trout.
The water’s taste is the biggest difference. Montana’s small amount of water picks up more minerals and seems to age as it makes its run. SE Alaska’s unrelenting runoff can’t tarry, and most of it tastes as it left the glacier.
Ford Creek, Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana, April 2009.
Those few who are foolish enough to farm near Augusta know what Montana’s prehistoric glaciers left behind--thin soil and lots of coarse gravel and rock. And yet, the same expanse of open prairie and foothills nourishes cattle, elk and ghosts of bison.
Haystack Butte, or Shishequaw Mountain as known by Native Americans when Meriwether Lewis saw it in 1805, May 2009.
SE Alaska has no prairie, and its foothills drop straight into lakes, rivers and saltwater.
Flying into Virginia Lake, Tsongas National Forest, SE Alaska, November 2009
I have asked, “How can a cowboy from Montana navigate the waters of SE Alaska?”
While the two seem to talk a different language, I hear the same tones. People of both places are workers. Many don’t have the niceties of the city. They do without and plug away. They give up money for a slower, more human existence. They follow Thoreau, living in smaller homes so they can enjoy the “real world.”
This blog will document some of what I find in SE Alaska. Like Augusta, I came here without family. My wife will join me in a few months--it has already been four.
Wrangell Sunset, October 2009.
From what I have seen so far, I may see the rest of my sunsets from SE Alaska.