along the trails to Avalanche Lake and Indian Pass
Terrance D. Young
To my Mother
Mildred M. Young
Who taught me to walk
so that I could hike.
As I reflect on my first hike into the Adirondacks, with the passing of time it has taken on a special and magical quality for me.
I was fresh from the city and it was exciting and exhilarating to be hiking into a mountain wilderness after just moving to the Adirondacks.
My mother was 63 that year and this was her Mother’s Day gift. It was May 8th and we chose this hike more for the mysterious name than anything else.
In the Adirondack trail guide book the words told us about a place that never sees the sun, it painted a picture of mystery and wonder.
So along with our German Shepard puppy Kachina we set off for Indian Pass.
|It was obvious when we were about three miles into the hike that we were the only people back there that day.
We came across winter fallen trees that we had to climb under and over.
We came across snow on the trail and there were no human footprints.
We came across the carcass of a deer just off the trail, still partially buried in winter snow.
We came across our mountain selves and it was like discovering a part of life that only ever hinted its existence.
There are times if one is lucky that you know something has changed. For children this happens often.
For us it was a new world or perhaps a new way of looking at the world.
In Avalanche Pass
I sat before a granite wall,
In my meditation before it
But I was enveloped by my
And in that peace,
Water was oozing from it,
I wondered how many rooms
And in the energy
And all I had to do
A chipmunk joins me for lunch, it comes up close to my outstretched toes and stands on its hind feet looking at me.
It must live nearby in the wealth of caves that are the west shore of Avalanche Lake.
Its bravery is to be rewarded as it ventures closer and closer, so I toss it a crumb from my sandwich. Then another and another.
It stands up looking at me bold and confident, just a foot away, knowing that I hold more than a few crumbs.
Winter is coming and any day now by this lake snow could fall and stay for up to seven months.
I open my granola bag. It has oats, almonds, dried fruit, M&M’s and sunflower seeds in it.
|I toss him some and watch him load up his cheeks and scamper off home. Soon he returns and I give him more, I leave a little pile to work on all day. I wonder if he will think of me when he is totally enclosed by snow and ice in several months. I will think of him, I took his picture.
I also wonder if he would like to follow me home and live the good life.
But then I realize this little chipmunk is already living the good life. It is living as it should, as a chipmunk. Should it die in the next minute or years from now at least it lived as a chipmunk.
I try to think if I can say the same for me. Did I live my life to the fullest of what it was supposed to be, am I doing it now?
This chipmunk on the shores of a remote lake leaves me with something to think about during the approaching winter months.
I sit upon billions of bits of rock
My lungs reach for it
My body is made of cells.
They are raw, untamed and naked
I should be as alive as it.
feeling churning energies
I feel as if I sit on an engine,
There are no sounds for my ears
And this machine I am sitting upon
I sit upon billions of bits of rock
The Greeter of Avalanche Lake
There is an early morning chill on the boulders along Avalanche Lake, sunlight can only be seen down the valley on some distant mountain. I’m alone on a late autumn morning watching how the lake greets the day. Watching sunlight move slowly up the valley. It is now on a nearer hill.
I watch shadows move away, toward day. I’m mesmerized by moving shadows, moving light, moving day, all moving the morning.
I decide to hurry into the light and so I walk towards it, climbing hand and foot, up and down, over plank walks and sturdy ladders.
Just before we meet I sit and close my eyes, I want my body to feel the sun, to know the sun only as it touches me.
Finally, like a warm lover’s caress it touches me, bathes me, soothes me. I feel I know how a rock feels when the morning light comes to it.
Soon a hiker mounts the rock I am on. We greet and exchange pleasantries about the morning, he moves on into his day. Other hikers now begin to come up the lake and I greet each new party with how glorious a day it is, “yes”, they all agree.
On this morning I was here when the sun arrived. I felt the cold damp boulders that now are warm. I watched the sky change color and its reflection on the lake ebb and flow. I thought how much a part of this morning I am. How much a part of this lake, this community of life that I watched awake into a new day.
I felt right at home.
I felt like the “Official Greeter of Avalanche Lake”, my new career.
I am sitting in the stillness of my studio. Retrieving moments of being in the mountain passes.
I picture myself before wallface, which rises out of the earth in an intimidating mass of stone. Jagged outcroppings, ledges and scars run crisscross over its face.
I am thinking about silence, and whether when a boulder lifts off wallface and tumbles down into the pass if there is a sound, or not.
What it must be like to see and hear! Does it sound like a thunder clap, that first initial crack. Then silence before the released rock tumbles into a ledge or a tree.
Crashing and splintering into other pieces and other sounds on down into the pass.
Perhaps releasing others in turn and sending the animals scurrying and yelling at unknown forces.
Now I visualize Avalanche Pass as it was,
Then nature takes its course and an avalanche closes the pass. It leaves me wondering.
What the sound was like when the earth moved and the trees collapsed and nature tried to reclaim its own.
How coarse an event this must have been to witness. How stirring to have been there and witness nature release and unleash itself.
Then the unthinkable happens and skiers die in an avalanche and I realize that I don’t really want to witness what it sounds like.
I should only know that the forces of nature will be there in silence and in sound and I should have absolute respect for them.