Sunday, January 28, 2018

Analog Ptarmigan

All this fall and winter, whenever the weather cooperates on a weekend, Elias and I have been going ptarmigan hunting in the mountains around Kodiak.

The ptarmigan have so far avoided us. But the end goal of ptarmigan for dinner is of course an excuse for me and my oldest to get up into the hills together.

Although I dreamed of sailing the world every since my parents went to sailing school and bought the 19' Waltzing Matilda when I was 7 or so, my path to the sea very much led through the mountains of Alaska. Getting back into those mountains in the boys' company might be my greatest joy in returning to the Great Land. Up in the hills, that all seems to fall away.

Eric, so far, is not that keen on the idea of walking up mountains only to walk back down again.

Elias delights in that same idea. He is also, I have noticed, on display as a different Elias when we are in the hills together. Down in town he is navigating a lot, for an 11 year old, being suddenly cast into a world of other 11 year olds who have been raised under the remarkable range of assumptions that characterize everyday life in 21st Century America.

So it is a double delight for me, going up to the hills with him, or maybe a triple delight: being back in the hills myself, seeing them anew through Elias' eyes, and spending time with a version of my boy who is the old, calm, boy who I remember from 2016.

He is very keen to go up and spend the night in a snow cave. And, once my final proposal deadline of Feb. 15 is past, I am very keen to do that with him.

Elias at a spot that would work very well indeed for a snow cave.

There is another side to being in the hills that I love - the complete vacation it gives me from digital life.

I know it's a funny thing to complain about online, but I find the landscape of digital life to be foreign and fallacious, and I am more and more willing to turn away. You'll notice that the Facebook link on this blog came down shortly after the U.S. election.

So, the mountains are a refuge from all that. I'm sure there is an active social media world related to the mountains, but I'm also sure that it misses the point.

The view from Cope Mt. over towards Center Mt. This area has super-easy access to alpine terrain that goes on and on, and it features heavily for my thoughts for summer camping trips.

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