The lack of snow during the back half of October going into November has definitely prolonged the hiking season. The situation offers little solace to winter recreationists who are impatiently waiting to ski and snowshoe, or commercial enterprises like Alyeska Ski Resort that count on every day of the ski season. But just the same, it’s truly a unique time of the year to be outdoors.
With winter’s darkened skies, all we have to do is look skyward to behold a celestial extravaganza that includes planets, bright constellations, an upcoming meteor shower, the aurora borealis and a good look at the galaxy in which we live: the Milky Way.
I was a little down during October because surgery to repair an arthritic thumb had prevented me from getting into the hills during most of the month’s gloriously sunny days. But my son David talked me into going to the Seinfeld performance in Anchorage Oct. 25. It turned out to be just about the best Rx anyone could ask for, as we and thousands of others convulsed with laughter, non-stop, for more than an hour.
I hesitate to employ the trite phrase, “when they made Dick Griffith, they threw away the mold.” But it’s true in every respect. In our lifetimes it’s doubtful we’ll ever run across anyone like him.
I’ve been known to manipulate the annual calendar to create more summer and shorten winter. Here’s an idea to lengthen our autumn season, and while it might be stating the obvious to many folks, perhaps by knowing that someone else does this might encourage others to try it themselves.
So, like many folks this past Labor Day, I was getting tired of sitting around the house waiting for the weather to improve. Despite wind and rain, I decided to head out into South Fork Valley for a hike. Looking across Eagle River Valley, I could see that the mountains were obscured in clouds and that it was definitely raining.
If you venture into Eagle River’s South Fork Valley far enough, and often enough, you might think you hear the sound of music echoing off the mountains, perhaps a Symphony or Concerto, accompanied by the gentle strings of a Harp and the wind-like tones of a Calliope. At the very least, you’ll be in the company of peaks and other natural features named after musical instruments and themes.
In recent years I haven’t seen as much wildlife in some parts of Chugach State Park as I did 15 or 20 years ago. But I’m not a game biologist and I don’t know enough about wildlife populations to draw any conclusions about their status. I have learned over time that generally, wild animals don’t go where people go. And Alaska has so much space that it’s not hard for the animals to find habitat that’s away from human activity.
After learning by radio that NASA had successfully landed a 2,000-lb. rover on Mars, I quickly turned on the television — not to see the unmanned craft’s first photos — but to see the reaction by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) team in Pasadena, Calif. They were literally bouncing off the ceiling with excitement and jubilation.
The three words that kept rattling around in my head July 25 as I left the shores of Symphony Lake and angled up-slope toward Triangle Peak were “how we forget.”