Thoughts and Stories

Alaska, June 2017 

I watch a bear from the window, gracefully and powerfully descending the hill and later another sauntering serenely up the slopes of tundra.  There is such peace in those movements that they make the chaos inside the bus all but disappear.  The bear moving into the distance, beautiful and oblivious to the French tourist shoving the American elitist’s head down, all fighting for the best view.  I think to myself, every bear I see is graceful, powerful and beautiful.  How many people do I describe with those

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Lone Pine Peak  


Held by the fire and my guitar, I stayed awake too long.  We talked with some campers whose friends, scared of the local bear turned in early wanting to leave in the morning.  I crawled in the camper shell of my truck for a paltry two hours of sleep.  The ersatz rooster crow alarm went off at 1:30 AM and I crawled out to knock on the window of Mike’s car where he was still sleeping.  We moved our vehicles to the main road, since our campsite wasn’t really ours and set off up the Meysen Lakes Trail on our…

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Every night lately, out walking the dog I’m drawn in to gazing up at Mars. Much to her frustration I stop every couple of minutes and look up. While I contemplate the celestial, her preference is to sniff the gutter—I guess it’s not so different when you really think about it. The truth is, when I was in college, if I made it just a little further down the alphabetized list of majors, I may have ended up studying Astronomy rather than Anthropology. People (and dogs) might be stardust, but people tend to get…

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I met up with Robert in Lone Pine and we drove up to Tuolumne from there.  I had never been to Yosemite before and so I looked out at the night wondering what new views may be hidden.  We bivied among the trees at the trailhead and the brisk air was a harbinger of autumn. 

We were up at before dawn, made coffee and ate breakfast—for me, peanut butter and jelly—organized our gear for the day and set off.  Up and down the main trail looking for the turn off to Cathedral Peak, we were shown the way by some…

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Mount Sill 

After a few beers and a hearty lunch, Mike and I set off up the North Fork of Big Pine Creek Trail.  Our objective was the 5.7 Swiss Arête of Mount Sill—or Nenimish, Guardian of the Valley.  Shirtless, with a rope and a container of sandwiches strapped to my stuffed pack, I enjoyed the mountain air and afternoon sun as we made our way passed the numbered lakes and up to Sam Mack Meadow, a soft green alpine landscape surrounded by granite and steep chutes of snow. 

We crossed the stream running through the…

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Basin Mountain 

Our camp was an idyllic oasis by a softly running creek under quaking aspens and sleep continued to tempt me with its warm comfort, but it was time to go and I freed myself from its grasp.  I set off into the dark toward the mass of mountain, only just perceptible under the starlight.  Day light was still hours away and my head lamp shone on the ground in front of me.  I lifted my head looked forward, greeted by two wide eyes reflecting in a greenish glow.  For a moment neither of us moved, but then the…

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Split Mountain Peak 

Camped at Lower Red Lake, I rolled around in my sleeping bag after vivid but now forgotten dreams. My watch read 2:00 am and I relaxed deeply at the notion of two more hours of sleep before braving the cold darkness of the mountain just before dawn. I closed my eyes and dozed off. With what felt like only the passing a couple of minutes my alarm was calling me from my sleep. 4:00 am. Shit.  I sat up and retrieved my head lamp. To avoid the cold just a little longer, I put my jacket and snow pants on within…

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