Honest...I think I wouldn't be keeping a journal if I wasn't sending it to fifty people. It's weird, but even though I have little to say this week, I feel compelled to write anyway.
For those of you who live in Alaska, ignore this if you like, because we experience cool shit like this all the time. This is more for those who live elsewhere.
I love lazy hiking. Sitting on my duff whenever I feel like, zoning out until I feel like getting up and moving again.
It's the peak of autumn right now, and the colors are breathtaking. Staying last weekend in Denali, I couldn't find my camera before going on a hike; but I looked at the cloudy, rainy skies and figured it wasn't that important, so I left without it.
Of course, lots of special Kodak moments happened.
"Etch it in your brain," my inner voice said. "That way you can take it with you when you die."
That's very nice, but I still wish I had my camera with me. Even if I can recall the image vividly at will, my bragging rights have been severely stunted.
There had been a group of fitness-junkie hikers that zoomed up to the overlook and back, while I puttered along and sat on my ass regularly. They said the view was "awesome," and nothing else.
But they didn't have a squirrel flirting with them from branches three feet above their heads, trying to seduce some snacks out of them. I did. And that's the kind of thing that happens when you do lazy hiking.
I continued on up even though the fog was totally socked in and it looked as if I wouldn't be getting any "awesome" views. But I saw at least five flocks of migrating (after asking around, I decided they were cranes) birds flying above me as they made their way to their winter homes.
Whatever they were, it was impossible to miss them, because their purring birdcalls could be heard for quite a few minutes before I actually saw them.
I had also seen a flock of cranes (they definitely were) flying above me in Fairbanks. And I saw folded cranes in Gulliver's - who is carrying my book - and in the College Coffeehouse - where I did my last minute storytelling.
My time in Fairbanks was effortless.
Cranes are definitely a "thing" in my life, whether they're made out of feathers or paper. What can you expect from a woman who folded a thousand cranes and put most of them up on her wall?
But back to my hike. I made it up to the overlook and there was a ridge trail continuing on. Once at the top of the hill, I hiked the ridgeline. The undulating ease of the ridge is the hikers reward for getting there.
The mountainsides were stunning with the red, gold, and fiery colors, and the deep green spruce speckled throughout. The fog kept coming in and going out, and eventually, the rainy skies cleared up.
The views alone were enough to make me regret my camera. And that was before I saw the sheep.
Going the extra distance was worth it. A quarter mile up the ridgeline, I saw a horned head poking around a rock staring at me, and a smaller head joined hers.
Looking to the right, I saw a young Dall ram - his horns hadn't curved all the way around yet - poking along the stray plants munching away. He gave me a bored glance and kept chewing.
The mama sheep and her young were just a little more nervous. They were also right on the trail, so I gave them time and space to move, which they did hesitantly, eyeing me all the while.
I watched the sheep, the lamb, and the ram for a while, cursing myself the whole time for not searching more diligently for my camera. They practically posed for me, and there was nothing but my memory to remember them by.
I passed them and sat on a rock that gives that "top of the mountain" feeling and just soaked in the space around me. After a few minutes of sitting on my duff, I head footsteps behind me and turned to see yet another Dall sheep coming up the trail and she stopped about six feet away from me.
We just stared at each other for a few minutes. Maybe if I'd stayed still, she would have strolled right past me, but as soon as I moved, she scurried to the side and around me to join her group.
Now that was cool.
Between the flocks of cranes and the sheep, I took the whole day as a sign that things were looking up and a breakthrough had happened on my book tour.
Maybe I'm a superstitious ninny.
But this week, I heard from the Anchorage Press that they are featuring my last storytelling at Organic Oasis, instead of just putting it in the calendar. And book sales have been steady. Maybe that's only a coincidence.
Either way, I still love lazy hiking.
By the way, many thanks to Jason Caputo for featuring my journal entries on his website, www.juneaumusic.com. Don't forget to check out the site regularly for info on what is happening in Juneau musically and artistically.
Besides some of the links are cool, but beware the infinite David Hasselhoff crotch shot. Unless of course, you like narcissism...and David Hasselhoff.
This excerpt from my DIY booktour/roadtrip in 2005/2006 was one of my favorites. I don’t know if the juneaumusic.com site is still active with or without David Hasselhoff’s crotch shot. But my email journal ended up being my first blog during the infancy phase of blogging. Andrea, who was on my email list, forwarded it on to Jason and that’s how it all began. If you’d like to see the previous letter in this journal, click here.