Writing by Morgan Amonett
One week in Alaska has already passed, and so I have decided to journal the happenings of my remaining days here in hopes that the time will slow. It is every bit as wonderful as I hoped it would be; I am constantly surrounded by mountains and cliffs and valleys and rivers and stretches of land and vegetation so dramatic and massive that I would have had no hope of comprehending them beforehand. I can stand on a huge ridge overlooking a valley and see for miles and miles. I am equally as mystified every time I am granted the privilege of such a sight. I feel a deep gratitude for the earth and my existence on it, more so than I ever have in my life. I am sure that my feelings of great appreciation have been spurred into being by my wonder and awe at this place.
Yesterday, we moved to a beautiful site overlooking Soule Lake, upon which we are now camping. From where I currently sit I can see perhaps the most beautiful view afforded to me by one of our campsites thus far. I rest on a thin pad of foam that separates me from the tundra, the first of the lake’s many mouths opening wide and deep blue before me. The ridges encircling it and sloping up into the mountains that both host and surround us are lush and green, lively from the wet spring they have enjoyed. To my left, a valley trapped by jagged and snowy peaks hides from my view. They conceal another stretch of mountains that loom dramatically but cautiously in the background. After what seems like a short distance, but is likely many miles, they begin to form a harsh and jagged canyon, proudly imposing itself on the mellow valley below. Jutting eagerly out from the center of the peaks is a massive mountain topped by a thick and rocky plateau that slopes slowly but confidently into the sky, the lake reflecting its powers and the band of mountains that bow before it echoing its majesty, sending it reverberating through the tundra. Its black and stubborn rock blends with deep and lush vegetation as it slopes downward, stretching out until it collapses abruptly into a grey and orange canyon that surrounds one of the rivers draining into the lake. Across the water, I can see the path down which we traveled the day before.
The mountains to my right that protrude out from across the lake and line the path we walked the previous day are quite unlike those on the left in the sense that they appear to have no relation to us whatsoever. The others were proud or timid or eager to be seen, but these seem to feel only apathy towards us and any other beings that were granted the privilege of experiencing their ecosystem. They were indeed correct in their perception; the land was theirs, without any doubt. It is perhaps that characteristic of those mountains that make them the most impressive, the most enigmatic, the most elusive. Their western faces are the only sides visible to me from my point of observation. Snow lies at the peaks of some, but they are hosts to little else besides. The thickets that have gathered on them have only done so at the very base of the mountains, where they know that they will not fall prey to the whims of the beasts upon which they grow. Some dare to venture higher, but only patches of those brave creatures remain, their sisters having drowned in the unforgiving floods of rock that fall from the peaks at some points on the mountains, the rock that streams like lava from above is far too thick for anything to even try to grow. Yesterday, we intended to pass over them but every group was deterred, without knowledge or awareness, from their path. Our way around was much more welcoming, but they still loom large from across the lake, reminding us of our sadly temporary place in this landscape.