The Hills are Shadows–Wrangell-St.Elias N.P.

“….the hills are shadows,

And they flow from form to form,

And nothing stands.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

The peaks hide from and seek my vision as I stroll the undulations of ice.  A glance downwards reveals an infinity of tiny silt-bottomed pools from pin to head size—oval tubular worlds missed by looking across the glistening crystal patched surface of the glacier.  The sound of wind chimes draws me into a narrow dripping crevasse.  The ice I kick down tinkles endlessly.


Click pic for slideshow

The Root Glacier splits and spreads below me; the dark rock covered section joins the Kennicott, the white ice bends towards ice-fall beginnings.  A giant playground of lakes, rivers, chutes, waterfalls, and walls among which I toil with my new seemingly super-power inducing crampons and ice axe.

“The natural world therefore reveals its content, its fullness of wonder, when respect hinders us from investigating it in such a way as to shatter it to abstractions.  If I must cross every skyline to find out what is beyond, I shall never appreciate the true depth of sky seen between trees upon the ridge of a hill.  If I must map the canyons and count the trees, I shall never enter into the sound of a hidden waterfall.  If I must explore and investigate every trail, that path which vanishes into the forest far up on the mountainside will be found at last to lead merely back to the suburbs.  The the mind which pursues every road to its end, every road leads nowhere.  To abstain is not to postpone the cold disillusionment of the true facts but to see that one arrives by staying rather than going, that to be forever looking beyond is to remain blind to what is here.”

-Alan Watts “Nature, Man And Woman.

My hiking buddy Mike, who is new to the back-country [I nearly had to physically strip the Carhartts off him in the McCarthy Parking lot], is enjoying the view with a friendly camp fox on day three of our sun-speckled hike.  This after having persevered a mildly bloodying moraine slide-descent, crotch deep slush, and a night on the glacier–as well as some vertiginous vistas.

A tour of the 1938 abandoned Kennecott Mine, a burger in McCarthy, and our sunburned smiling faces turned to the road.

~ by Scott Hamilton Peters on June 4, 2009.

One Response to “The Hills are Shadows–Wrangell-St.Elias N.P.”

  1. Hey I am just a stranger but when I typed in this verse from a poem I really liked, yours was the first link..Was the ‘Unknown zen poet’ part above intentional for some reason?? 🙂 Because it is a beautiful poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson from which those lines above are taken..thought I’d share it with you..

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