Rocky Mountain Runaway
The descent is steep and my hand plunges into snow as I balance myself. Beyond an outcrop of rocks there’s a drop-off. It must be the river. As I rush forward, my foot slips and I slide into a ravine. I expect to crash through ice, but as I slide to a stop, I realize that this isn’t a river at all. It’s just a small valley of snow that looks like a million other small valleys of snow.
Once again, I’m lost in a national park, but this time it’s freezing and I’m alone.
by Stewart Bellus
Trading Land for Sea
Just south of the Ozette village archeological site, hikers can find the recent history of the Makah laid out in stone. Carved into a rockface on the coast is a whale. There are also a couple faces, a ship, and a gun. Archeologists estimate the carvings to be between 300-500 years old, except for the ship which research suggests dates to the year 1800. I first visited the site, known as Wedding Rocks, as a backpacking guide for the YMCA. Along with Reed, my co-leader, we led a group of nine teenage boys on a two-week backpacking trip down the coast. To Reed and I, seeing the petroglyphs was an exciting feature of our backpacking trip and a way to connect with the people who formerly inhabited this part of the coast.
by Chris Pearson
Meditations While on the Eno River
Over the years I have seen many animals in the park: white-tailed deer, otters, and raccoons. I’ve seen dozens of male monarch butterflies puddling in pools of shallow water, taking in the minerals and salts that come from the mud. Once, years ago, I was paddling upstream from the Pleasant Green put-in, before the dam was torn down and, in the early spring, witnessed perhaps a hundred large black birds perching in the trees. These birds were much larger than crows, and they were quiet except for the occasional rustling of their immense wings as they settled and unsettled on the limbs of sycamore, birch, and hornbeam. It was a magical moment that I will never forget. I sat in my kayak and watched them for thirty minutes, mesmerized by their sheer size and beauty.
by Robert Wallace
Iowa Blues. and Greens
Mom says, wistful, “I wanted land, gardens. I wanted my kids to run barefoot, and climb trees.”
She didn't want a double-wide mobile home trailer, even if it is the yellow of lemon pie.
She wanted an old farmhouse with lace curtains drifting and billowing, parting to reveal glimpses of the sun, a wild orange, melting into our sea.
by Summer Hammond
Lost in Solitude
It is disquieting to think about total aloneness, the absence of relationships, the disconnection from family, from blood. In the encroaching darkness, I will myself to not dwell in this black well of dread. Rather, I focus on how solitude encourages me to feel strong and capable of caring for myself.