Denali 4. Dragon Faces

Day 3:

Didn’t sleep too well. 2 AM pee not as spectacular as night before, but on balance, completely stunning.

I’m talking about the view/experience of the environment here. Not the actual urinating…

Woke up with headache. Took two Advil. Back to sleep. Finally got up about 9 AM. Feeling better. Used freeze-dry envelope for oatmeal. Much more satisfactory. Bugs are bad. Wind was keeping them at bay.

Pack up daypack with rain gear, water kit, map + compass and head out to scout the area. Find a probable site for better camp north of current site. Base to summit view of Denali. Spend time overlooking the small river. Glass it for a long time. Pleasant. Take some pictures.

Make my way down to river. Hike upriver a ways. Human and Moose tracks.

It is interesting to me that almost everyone you talk to who spends a lot of time out in these wilderness areas tells you that the animal that they are REALLY afraid of is the moose. Specifically a large moose cow. Despite this, there is almost zero information offered about how to avoid a moose or what to do when you encounter one. The best I could come up with was “…Just run. As fast as you can. Serpentine if you’re out in the open, but find something to hide behind if you can…” This is not comforting advise. Especially when you’re in a place without a real tree to speak of or really ANYTHING that could actually hide me from a moose. I think what it comes down to is that although a moose is probably never going to hunt you and eat you, it is much less predictable than a bear. You just don’t know what it’s going to do. Not that I’ve been led to believe that bears are exactly predictable, but they do seem to have patterns. From what people have said to me, moose are just giant masses of biological fury that will come at you for no apparent reason and use you as a punching bag until they calm down.

Fill water bottles, and climb back up. Scout around top of bluff. Confirm campsite. after yesterday’s fatigue want to take it easy. Decide to move next day. Get back to camp. Make miso soup and coffee. Sit on hillside and read with the bugs. Occasional stints glassing the mountains. Faces the snow.

It’s kind of an amazing thing and not something that comes across in pictures very well; there are so many faces of the mountains that literally begin to look like faces after awhile. I know it’s a natural and almost inevitable instinct that we anthropomorphize the universe when we look at it, but I’ve never noticed it this intensely. The snow and rock are so sensitive to the changing light, and I watched for hours to see little nuances of expression passing across these stern visages.

I heard once that the geomancers of the Fensghui tradition were actually trying to see “the Dragon” in the mountain, so that they could site buildings in places that would not be on a toe or something that would irritate the dragon. The longer I am out in the wild, the less poetic and more practical this seems. Perhaps it is the merging of the practical and the poetic that the wilderness is constantly waiting for us to catch on to.

Dinner of freeze-dried chicken and rice. Best one so far. A few drops of rain as I finish up. I put up everything and get in tent. Strange sound like swarm of insects from direction of creek. Bits of rain as evening wears on. Hard not to get down in evenings. Worries about coping with real rain. Wondering if other campsite is too exposed.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply