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A Stand Alone Day

January 10, 2008

Sept 8, 1993

A day I will remember for the rest of my life. As John said, “A stand alone day!” I cannot tell or write in words just how spectacular today was.

It all began about 4:00AM. (Neither John nor I has a watch so we think it was about 4:00AM) That is when John & I were woken by a band of howling wolves. It was the most interesting & incredible feeling I have ever had. It only lasted for about 30 seconds but I will never forget that sound. I would try to explain the sound but the written description would only detract from the real thing. It just wouldn’t come close to the actual sound. AMAZING!!!

The cool thing here was that we both didn’t move when this happened. When we were finally brave enough to sit up and try to peak out the tent window, the sound disappeared. Maybe they were that close!

After that I went back to sleep and John later woke me about 6:45. As I looked over my feet, Denali was out in full splendor. Not a cloud in the sky & the north face fully illuminated by the rising sun. John and I scrambled to get up & grab our camera equipment. By 7:15 or so we were trekking across the tundra. We found a good viewpoint of the mountain. I shot roll, after roll, after roll of film. I hope they turn out. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I’m sure my pictures will hardly reflect the true grandeur of this moment. But, if they reflect any image at all, others will not believe it. I can see why millions, (OK, maybe only thousands) of photographers flock to this place for pictures. Every second, the mountain changed in some way. As the sun moves up and across the sky, new crevasses & shadows change the face. Wind gusts blow snow off the summit causing snow clouds and halos to form around it. I love this place. I will be back.

I would like to hike to McGonnagol Pass (spelling?) It is the pass that the first claimed attempt at the summit took. It takes you up to about 9-10,000 ft to the middle of the Muldron Glacier. In a year or so, I’m going to do it. Fly up here, hike the pass, bus to Haines, ferry to Skagway, hike the famous Chilkoot, train back to Skagway, ferry to Seattle, then back to where ever I am at. I wish I could live this life forever, as do most people who love & long for the outdoors.

Well, that isn’t all we saw and did today. We also got to see thousands of cranes (possibly sandhill cranes) migrating. Thousands and thousands of birds flew into the valley to catch the wind. They circled and circled until they were high enough to fly over the some portion of the Alaska Range before heading south.

On the way back from our morning hike, John and I stumbled into a huge batch of blueberries! I took the ziplock back I kept my journal in and picked a bagful. We then hiked back to camp and loaded our oatmeal with fresh Alaska blueberries.

Well, it’s only about 2:00PM & I’m going to take a break from writing to just enjoy this day. I better because I may never have another day like it. It’s amazing what sun does for the morale. Psychologically, I think the sun is the best non prescription drug available.

I’m going to leave this post alone and not try to interpret or make any point(s). I can honestly say that this memory is the top 5 of my life. It’s top two if you are only calling out travel memories…the other being New Zealand with my wife.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2008 3:33 pm

    “It’s amazing what sun does for the morale. Psychologically, I think the sun is the best non prescription drug available.”

    Amen, brother.

  2. Jason permalink
    January 10, 2008 6:40 pm

    My wife and I have a philosophy that there are “mountain people” and “beach people”. We’re are “mountain people”. Meaning we have driven thousands of miles to places like Crested Butte, CO to be surrounded with mountains for a week, and to hike and ride, while other will long for a sandy beach.

    One look at that photo and the thoughts of the wild life you’ve encountered and makes me think- Who the hell would NOT be a “mountain person”?? HA! Good stuff.

  3. Guitar Ted permalink
    January 11, 2008 4:10 am

    Yeah, mountains……

    When I drive to El Paso, TX with the family we have to cross the Rockies in New Mexico. I find it sooo hard to keep my eyes on the road!

    You were right about that shot. The snow halos must have been so great to see too. Wow…….

  4. January 11, 2008 4:25 am

    that’s crazy jason… laura and i have the same exact theory, and we too have had to buy cars out of leases because we’ve driven them waaaaaay more than the 12,000 miles/year we had in the lease (we’ll never lease again) because the mountains were calling.

    eventually i’m just going to move back to the mountains. it might happen sooner than you’d think…

    Gnat, that’s another awesome shot. thanks for sharing your great stuff with us. i bet those bowls of oatmeal and fresh blueberries make for some sweet memories.

    hope you are all able to get out for some good rides this weekend.


  5. gNAT permalink
    January 11, 2008 4:36 am

    Can someone be both Mountain People and Beach People? If you stay tuned until we hit Oregon, you might just see it is possible.

    Riding this weekend…you bet. I’ll be riding Leb with studded tires!

    Back at ya!

  6. Guitar Ted permalink
    January 11, 2008 1:24 pm

    Mountain People? Beach People?

    What about us Gravel People? Ha!

    Have fun out there at Leb, Jason and please do be careful! 🙂

  7. gNAT permalink
    January 11, 2008 8:29 pm

    Gravel People?

    Yikes. I hope I don’t run into any of those. 😉

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