The sun is quite lazy this time of year, which makes perfect sense really. It has worked overtime these summer months - showing off, spreading vitamin D and the consequential good cheer some days as much as 21 hours. 21 hour work days make even the sun yearn for some down time.
Up way before the sun would crest the horizon, approximately 10:30 AM AKST, a bit tired, but fully enthused from the previous day and night’s solo adventure in the Alaska back-country.
Slowly, front and back brakes completely engaged, I did my best to slide down the steep embankment from which Borealis Cabin kept watch over the landscape. It was not far, perhaps 50 yards or so, and a far cry less challenging than the pushing up it the night prior.
Pausing at the bottom, quite full of myself for keeping all things upright, I listened intently...to absolutely nothing. Not a soul in the world, not one, knew of my exact location. I have never before been blessed with a freedom like that.
It was genius in its simplicity, Beautiful beyond the greatest of symphonies ever created by man. Not as much as a caw from the raven that calls the snow covered pines here home.
Not the slightest breeze.
How could such nothingness stir one’s soul?
Frozen. Crossing the creek, a large moose track.
I imagined the mighty racked bull crossing the trail I’d left the night before, nose to the ground, gathering intelligence from the scent left behind.
In this land one is either predator or prey, and all that call this wild untouched place home live or die based on how well they steer clear of the former.
I paused, marveling at the size of the track, easily bigger than my hand. I envisioned the bull, surveying the situation under the star filled sky as I slept soundly just atop the steep embankment to his right.
His enormous hooves told a story also. He was not new here. Wise in years and experienced to still be alive. Wolves also call the White Mountains home. I’d crossed fresh tracks my last time here.
A moose, long in the tooth, has made many good decisions. Friend or foe, that’s how every encounter had to be judged.
I put myself there with him for a moment, watching him come across the intrusive tire tracks, sniffing, smelling, his large rack swinging up and to the right - smoke from the cabin, a small light shining from the window. It was not the first time he’d seen this.
Friend or foe? I hope he sensed friend. Slowly returning his gaze back to the tire track nearly 7 feet below him as he stood proudly, he raised one leg and then the next, and then the next again. No cause for alarm, he ambled away, eventually exiting the waterway disappearing into the endless forest.
From Des Moines, Iowa to the interior of Alaska. A chance crossing 52 years in the making...probably not a big deal to that moose.
It was to me.