One Man's Paradise

Sainte Terre

“Away back in the middle ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre’, ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently.”

John Muir


There are many things about winter that I like. The transformation of the mountains into pristine walls and ridges of snow and ice is probably my favorite aspect of the cold and dark season. When the storm clouds lift and some of that fresh, untouched powder is exposed, that’s when mountains turn into altars, as others have said.

Amen.

 

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One Man's Paradise

Thanksgiving

“It’s not happiness that makes us grateful.

It’s gratefulness that makes us happy.”

David Steindl-Rast


I am grateful for a handful of friends that reach out to me and stay in touch, including readers of this blog, who give me a sense of belonging and purpose. I am grateful to have spent time in beautiful places and the ability to share moments of solitude, serenity, and happiness.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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One Man's Paradise

Fall Colors

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Fall Colors at the Koyukuk, Brooks Range, Alaska

“I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair.”

J.R.R. Tolkien


I am not sitting next to the fire thinking of what was. Not yet.

The hillsides just exploded in colors. There are moments, when the sun breaks through. It’s pure magic. In other places the wind has already blown the leaves to the ground. Every morning I wake up to a different scenery.

That’s why I am sitting next to the fire, only to warm up my creaky bones.

 

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One Man's Paradise

Sukakpak Mountain

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What was once an ancient seabed is now visible as one of the most recognizable mountains of the Brooks Range. Just 4,459 ft but close to the Dalton Hwy., so it can be climbed in a day. The limestone deposit was subjected to intense heat and pressure, which caused it to metamorphose into marble. Slowly crumbling away. Apparently ice forms in the winter, attracting hardy ice climbers. The East slopes just beg for some back country skiing.

Like a hunter and gatherer I collected this image on a rare calm day with interesting clouds swirling around the mountain. On June 13 I stood alone on top of the mountain. IT Is hard to express the awe, peace, and humility I felt.

“Over the years I have discovered that each minute spent in the Arctic – whether in a tent in foul weather, on top of a breath-taking mountain, or in the midst of ten thousand caribou – carries the fullness of a rare wilderness experience.”

Debbie Miller

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One Man's Paradise

Brooks Range: Horizons

“I am the lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


Summer 2018 seems to go into the record books as a relatively cool and wet one, quite in contrast to the rest of the nation. Nevertheless, there were clear, warm, breezy, and calm days sprinkled into the mix. The constantly changing weather patterns made for great photo opportunities, I think. Rainy days were used for sorting through my images, making pastry, doing laundry, roughly in that order.

blog-22 On my blueberry and mushroom expeditions, I ended frequently on ridge tops, which offered the best views of the immensity of the Brooks Range, short of being in a bush plane. Haven’t seen a single paraglider, although these hills are just calling for it. Gentle slopes in all directions, no powerlines, no fences… Once in a while a golden eagle or a pair of ravens are cruising along the ridge lines, showing me where the upwinds are. The same hills should make for amazing backcountry skiing, sans the cold… Maybe I will come back in March or April, when the winter temperatures may be bearable, and come to think of it, when there is also sufficient daylight for this activity. At night, I could watch the northern lights.

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Endicott Mountains, Brooks Range, Alaska

The oldtimers say September brings cooler, clear days. We shall see. The North Slope has already been blanketed several times with a couple inches of snow.

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