28 June, 2004


Spent part of a day salmon fishing with an Alabama friend of Jamie's who came up for this purpose.
Didn't catch a damn thing outside of drowned logs - with which I continually had to wrestle back my "one" lure.
I really couldn't get into it and spent a lot of the day reading. People lined the banks every five feet - "combat fishing" it's called. The salmon seemed to simply disregard the rain of lures over them. I saw a few catch. I'd saw the fish won the day. I'd watch eight people fishing and a giant king jump right over their lures.
I thought it was great. The triuphant fish I mean.
I couldn't abide the fishing.

Beautiful relaxing day for a change. Lots of clouds - not so hot. Widge did some nice swift water river crossings. Widge and I were the only folks out without waders and massive gear vests. I don't think we caught that much less than most. Widge actually found a nice salmon head and ate it on the spot.

We drove down a long and high dirt road after fishing and saw a black bear up on a mountain ridge. Saw a paraglider take off and fly down to the valley floor. Came home to some good southern cornbread and my book.
I'm reading Umberto Eco's Foulcalt's Pendulum.

26 June, 2004


Another amazing day walking through hillocks and bunchberry blooms - everything is in bloom. If you look up at the sky, it looks like it is snowing for all the cottonwood tuft that drift and dally in the breeze.
Widge and I woke up early to try and climb another peak - actually I knew better this time. The trail climbed up the ridge to the peak, but the peak itself is crumbly and dirty. I've had enough climbing that sort of thing. I thought I'd at least give it a look. We went off trail and idled through the thick valley. I don't know what all the shrubs are called. They're low and spongy - some thick like heather. The going was slow and steep. I could see dahl sheep grazing on the side of the ridge, like small remnant snow patches against the dirt and shale.
The climb took several hours and I felt tired from the previous days. I could help but feel "present", somehow aware that "the time is now." I smiled and laughed at myself as I sang silly chants loudly for noone to hear. Widge sat down in a muddy creek to alleviate the heat. It is damned hot for Alaska - in the eighties anyhow.
Sure enough, the rock was crappy. I climbed up scree shoots until I decided it was ridulous - I just wanted to see. I rode a scree landslide for almost twenty seconds. Widge was waiting patiently on the ridgeline below. We sang our way back down the trail and then home to some good leftover pasta.

By the way, I am in need of a good book to read. Any suggestions would be lovely...

24 June, 2004

ALASKA - Little Sustina River and the Mint Glacier Valley

I feel much like I did when I first moved to Montana: I am awed; my eyes feel wide open all the time. I don't feel like I've ever experienced a place like this before - a mix of the Scotish Highlands and the Alps.
Everything is amazing: the water, the color of the alpine grasses, the expansive views in all directiions. The mountains are all so steep but the most rewarding panoramas continually baffle me. I really can't believe this place.
The mountain climbing is also so far from anything in Montana. Point and shoot! If you see it you can go and climb it. And odds are that it will be great. I've gone hiking almost everyday. Widge is in love with the pikas, marmots, and ground squirrels. Last night we hiked up the Little Sustina Valley to the Mint Glacier. There was a cool mountaineering cabin there, outfitted with tons of climbing holds screwed into the walls and ceiling.
The sun never sets, of course. The solstice just passed. Widge and I walked around the desolate lakes until we just assumed it was probably time for bed. There is no need for an early start when you can climb all night.... Widge stayed at the camp and I scurried up a few snowfields and made a summit of jagged black peak. The glacier behind it, the Bomber Glacier was like looking into another world, like the glaciers behind Mount Blanc and Chammonix. It went on forever. How I wanted to ski it. I thought about simply running down it (but I wasn't sure if I'd be about to re-surmount the ridge.
The rock was real crumbly but the climbing was incredibly rewarding. This is what I came for. I had no route, no team. It was just me and I found a way to the summit and back down again. it was scary at times. But now I feel so much better, free somehow. I wanted to eat Mcdonald's. Why?...
I met Widge at camp and packed up and headed back down. We had eight miles of valley hiking to do. It was already five-thirty and I didn't want Jamie to worry about me. The river is turquoise - probably the most amazing river water I've ever seen. Something to do with minerals and light.

Anyway - Alaska is amazing. Living just outside of Anchorage, there is more to do than could fit in lifetimes. I haven't gone more than fifty miles from here yet (that I think is a lie). I love it. I feel changed, like I wan't really me before seeing AK, or I am more me somehow. THis place is very close to my heart and I have only known it for a week. Next week Jamie has off and we're going salmon fishing with her godfather.

07 June, 2004

This year has been a busy one and not one where I have successfully kept up with my journal.

My apologies.

This shortfall will likely not be remedied in the next two months. I have packed up and moved out. I have said my good byes and tomorrow I shall start my drive (2500 miles) to Alaska. The trip is a vacation, but also a dream—I have never been and have always dreamt of Alaska, a sort of logical (or ideological) extension of Montana.
Also Jamie Blythe now lives there and we always have to spend a bit of time together. She has a little time off so that we can go and peruse among the mountains and have good talks. This is likely the closest I will be to AK for a while.

After AK I am heading back to South Carolina. I am going to spend some time with Dad and the family. I am going to make use of the library, work with Palmetto Ut. or with Dibble, and maybe take a class or two at the University. The goal is to get my stuff in storage, spend some time with family, make money, save money, work on my writing, research ideas and opportunities, and make a plan.
By the time I am thirty I want to have a little money and a good idea and plan for my future. Sailing and climbing will have to wait or be fitted in free time in North Carolina and Charleston. Now I need to learn how to make travel viable and sustainable, which is no easy task. At some point I would hope to be able to write—but not now, not for a while.
It seems I have graduated but still have quite a bit to learn. And I am really excited about it. But for now I am taking a break (though not really). I want Jamie to teach me about big mountains. See the movie “Touching the Void”—it is a phenomenal movie that is frighteningly human and mortal in it focus.

So I hope everyone is well. Sorry I have been so out of touch. Perhaps in the fall I will be much more active. Moving to South Carolina is scary—a move away from so many, but also toward many others. I don’t know what I will make of life without mountains for perspective and with the intense southern heat. The south isn’t an easy place fore me to live, but I am excited about the choice I’ve made: I have more opportunity than I can seemingly make good on.