Monday, September 8, 2008

Deep in the Backcountry Again

This is another excerpt from the journal I keep when I go into the woods.

Deep In The Backcountry Again

An unknown ridge, except to the sheep, the bear, birds, bugs and me. Climber's won't come here, too loose. Hikers won't come here, too much climbing. Hunters, HA!, too far away from where a horse can take them. The waterfall is half a mile, straight across, maybe three by hiking. I have always been told I have billy goat legs, this is a good thing. From where I sit, it is a good thousand foot drop, to my right, only a couple feet away. Best not to siesta here. I am recharged, refreshed, renewed. It must be how a Catholic feels, after Confession. I would not know of that. All I know is the deep connectedness I feel up here. I am alone, but totally surrounded. The chirp of grasshoppers on wing verify this, and remind me.

I do not know where I am, in terms of a map. But, I know I am looking DOWN into Sunlight Peak's massive bowl. The sound of the waterfall is quite inviting. Funny, even with all it's rage, all it's volume, it still peters to nothing by the time it hits the road. I can see the road if I look behind me. I choose not to. There is too much looking behind in life, and far too many roads. In this place, there is no road. Thank God for wilderness, or there would be a tram to the top of this place by now. What drives me out here? I could build my little cabin up here, and you would never see me again. Is that bad? Why do people seem so terrified of running away? Don't they realize there is so much more out there, and beyond what they can see from the road?

It feels good to get away. I am free to sing aloud, talk to myself, contemplate the deepest thoughts I have, and the only complaint heard is the whistle from the wind. She is not too cynical today, though, she seems to be agreeing with me. She, along with some clouds she blows in, have made, MADE, the place I sit. I feel like they have carved out this nook in the rock just for me, just waiting until I came along.

I want to push up further. My view of a high mountain is blocked by a goblin of gneiss. I could climb up the once I am leaning on, but with the long fall to the right, this shitty bonded rock is not quite convincing me to caress her. If a man in the mountain falls, and no one is around, does he still make a sound?

So many ridgelines up here to explore. I, for one, have always been more fond of following the ridgelines, rather than go up the bottoms of the canyons. I like to be able to see off into the distance, rather than just in front of me. I will look back only so I know how to get down. Right now, where I sit, that is a good thing. I am completely cliffed out, and taking the wrong way back, we may be able to test our falling theory. Walking and climbing the gneiss, or kitty litter, is an art form. For every step up, you lose two down. Maybe that is why people don't like hiking in the Absarokees. The bedrock is another fun concept, and challenge. Usually found right where you don't want to fall, raw cliff will be covered by an inch or less of tiny, tiny ball bearings. You don't sink enough to get traction, and the ball bearings cause even the best boots to skitter. Sticks from the ground are helpful. Move quickly, and take deliberate steps, hoping you find deeper scree before you get cliffed out and cannot go back. If the kitty litter is bad, the cliffs themselves are worse. Low angle, slabby nightmares, where every hold breaks off. Climb fast friends, and pray you don't crumble a hold, while you are using it!

1 comment:

Annalyn said...

For the record - yes, a man does make a sound when he falls in the mountain. It goes something like, "damnit!"

But anyway - I like your writing. You always paint the picture so well. It almost makes me want to pick up and live in the backcountry....but then again, I like living near a coffee shop :-)

I'm a hopeless city girl for now but I like the idea of a getaway.