Having successfully negotiated the icy back side of the trail up Kamiak Butte, I paused a few minutes for a piece of Clif Bar, a drink of water, and a big ol’ chunk of solitude. There was so much of the latter, though, that I wasn’t long in filling up and getting my legs back to work. Along the southern face of the hill, the sun was melting the snow, sending tiny rivulets of cold water along the exposed rock, taking away a little bit here and a little bit there. By such patient labor was the Grand Canyon made, and here I was, sole witness to the work of creation. So it was on such a bright midwinter day that Kamiak revealed some of its more subtle, yet sublime, charms.
Sunshine and snowmelt make other things, too; mud, for instance. The ground was slick and the footing tricky along the trail here, and I didn’t want to soak my socks just yet. So, I made a game of trying to stay on the rocks and hard-packed snow whenever possible. I let my mind unreel, a spool of line caught in the current, as I tried to sift, sort, and keep my balance. Then I got to the “Summit Spur,” a short-but-steep grind made even more interesting by the snow-and-ice mix I had found below:
Still, I made good time in getting to the summit. According to my notes, I started from the parking lot at 11:20 and reached the peak at 12:30; plenty of time for a rest and some lunch before needing to head back.
I was able to feed my minor obsession with benchmarks too:
Too bad the numbers are scratched out, or I could look it up on the NGS database.
I passed a blissful hour in the sun; eating lunch, writing a bit, and gently exploring this fragile corner of the world. There was a good bit of snow cover up here, and I didn’t want to make any more footprints than necessary, so I sat more than anything. I thought about hiking further out along the ridge to the antennas;
but decided to save that for another day. Then, I thought I detected movement over that way, behind the trees. Imagination? Another hiker coming up from the other side? I’d wait and see. No need to disturb their day any more than I have to. Another few blissful minutes slid past, and I knew I saw something move over there. Very brief; very swift; very quiet; but movement all the same. What could it be? Hard to say. I bent down to my notebook again, made some minor scribbles, then looked up to see himself indeed not a few yards in front of me:
Okay…I had seen some tracks, and I know there are deer in the area, but…that’s no deer. He stopped to regard me, as I stared in rapt amazement and fumbled for my camera. He patiently waited another few moments; then, as if satisfied that I belonged there too, calmly trudged on.
OHMYGODLOOKATTHATTHINGCANYOUBELIEVEITOHMYGOD!!! I said quietly to myself. Call me what you like, but I can hardly recall being so excited. Just that moose and I, sharing a moment of sunshine and tranquility, content to coexist and pass each other by. As I was saying, about Kamiak’s more subtle and sublime charms…
Next: Going home, the long way