There Are Places Here
There are places here where no human foot has pressed into snow or onto rock face. Cliffs so steep, even nimble marmots and sturdy mountain goats slide to their deaths. Swaths of mountain-face where snow settles year-round, a silent, pressing weight, sculpting eons of stone.
[View from hike up Hurricane Creek]
I wonder sometimes what it would be like to hide in a crevasse. To glimpse only a sliver of sunlight, starlight, clouds overhead. To hide in that tiniest, deepest of places. To see the world as a narrow scar instead of a pervasive whole. Once, I scampered to the edge of one day hiking on the Kenicott Glacier in Alaska with a crew of silt-crazed writers. We peered into the moulin (a glacial crevasse) as a spring robin might peer from its nest before first flight—breathless in a world of blue, hearts racing, awestruck:
What is it that scares and enchants me so about the wilderness. The raw power? The metaphors of nature? The seemingly wondrous spread of it all? When I am at my best, the backcountry is with me whether I am in a meeting or lost in sleep. My hair is mossy, my eyes pine needle green, my toes like root tendrils. At my worst, the backcountry feels like the truth-seeker who can read right through me. My face an embarrassed red, my blood moving the wrong direction, my eyes darting sideways from the truth.
What is that truth? That I am impatient with life. That I know a good thing when I see it, but often push too hard for its fruition. That the same determination that is my success threatens to be my demise. That I know no other way than hard work, no matter the cost. That sometimes I’m afraid the cost is too much. That I do not fit in the nine-to-five, the day-job-desk-job, the housewife. That I would rather push and wail than bite my tongue. That lately I am terrified of sitting still. That something in me is running blind. That something else in me is wise beyond years. That I’m not sure how to reconcile the two.