Inside Out

One moment you are happy…

“You are happy for an instant
and then you start thinking again…”

Georgia O’Keeffe

Hiking alone. Good for the body and the soul? I am wondering.

Here I was hiking up Mount Decoeli outside of Haines Junction in the Yukon. Mount Decoeli is with 6,279 ft / 1,914 m the 138th highest mountain in Yukon, no big deal. It is readily accessible from the Alaska highway and promises a great 360 degree view with glimpses to the distant ice fields. It is seven o’clock in the evening when I start hiking from Bear Creek Summit. Not a soul in sight.

Bear scat, willows and alders, a loud creek to begin with. What am I doing here? What if I run into a bear? I am clapping my hiking poles, holler, whistle, and rumble along and across Bear Creek, as much as possible, to stay out of the man-high vegetation. The hike is outside of the Kluane National Park, so I did not have to register with the rangers. Nobody knows where I am, where I am going. Calm down. This is great. This is why I am here. To hike cross-country, finding my own trail…

scree

A few hours later I pick up a faint trail leading into steep scree land. A social path, a wildlife trail? It seems to go in the right direction and the path  makes it much easier to walk on the mountain slope. It’s 10 o’clock. The sun is still up there throwing warm beams of light on the hillsides. Across the valley I see nine dall sheep, inching their way back into the mountains, grazing in places without, at least from the distance, any green.

Finally, the top. More snowy mountains emerge in the West. Nothing seems to be that tall, like viewing Denali from the distance. I do not know that I will fly over these distant mountains in a few days, which leaves me with the feeling of belonging. Not tonight. The sensation of loneliness creeps into my body. Circling thoughts, not exhausted enough to keep the head from spinning. What now, Georgia?

sky over kluane

Georgia O’Keffe had an open marriage with Alfred Stieglitz, a photographer, gallery owner, and magazine publisher. Were they in pursuit of happiness during their unconventional relationship? Benita Eisler described their marriage as “a collusion … a system of deals and trade-offs, tacitly agreed to and carried out, for the most part, without the exchange of a word.” Several hundred portraits of Georgia were taken by Alfred. One notable portrait exists by no other than Ansel Adams, who described Georgia as “psychopathic.”

The nine dall sheep are still grazing on the side of a mountain when I descend around midnight.

It is past two o’clock in the morning, when I stumble back to the car, hungry and tired. A cup of udon needles with sweet carrots fixes the hunger. I sleep in the next morning.

What’s next? Rest, think, hike, worry, repeat…

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5 thoughts on “One moment you are happy…

  1. Sounds like a wonderful state of solitary bliss, I think.
    Not many people are content with their own company. Its a rare character trait and one to be admired and sought after.

    I must admit I would be a little apprehensive hiking in the wilderness on my own though. I’m prone to getting so absorbed in what’s happening around me, I forget to watch where I’m putting my feet. I’ve had more sprained ankles than I’d like to admit.

    But I am resourceful.

    I was just thinking about Bruce “Buck” Nelson’s dvd Alone Across Alaska – 1000 miles of wilderness. You might enjoy that. It’s inspiring partly because he was completely alone and had to put the recorder down pointed in the right direction and then walk for a while, come back and pick the video recorder/camera? up and then walk some more in the wilderness. Therefore it is safe to assume he walked double the distance in some areas. An inspiring adventurer. (bucktrack.com).

    I suppose if you made enough noise, you’d scare most bears off?

    • That’s the idea, I am not sure the bears know, that this is how it is supposed to work. Don’t eat where you sleep, clean up, don’t leave food scraps around… I’ll look up “Buck”, thanks for the tip.

    • Thank you. I start to think I did experience this natural beauty by myself, with nobody to share, except now a week later with this audience…

      • That is a great way to view life and the solace of nature ~ I never quite thought of it that way, but it is inspirational. Cheers and safe travels.

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