Lessons in Solitude

P1130434This trail, beginning at the Alyeska Ski Resort and ending in a string of beautiful subalpine meadows, teaches the value of solitude. The first half mile hosts a near constant stream of hikers, most just taking a curious peak into a northern rain forest. A smaller number push on to see the Winner Creek Gorge and take a promised ride over the stream in a bucket suspended from a cable. The trail forks before the gorge where I right turn to explore a less visited section of the creek.

Before the fork, I dottled along finding spaces between groups so I can enjoy the play of lights of darks in the forest understory. After taking the road less traveled I am alone except for a tiny vole galloping up the trail then diving to safety beneath a blueberry bush. Aki would have loved that. There was also a raven sounding like a honking Canada Goose.

After the junction the trail climbs through a forest of smaller and smaller conifers before delivering me to the subalpine meadows. I guess you should call them that. They form in places where the creek valley opens into a shallow “V”—large swaths of grasses and taller plants like the Elderberry and  Wild Rhubarb. In between I find almost hidden clumps of dark purple Monkshood, blue Wild Geraniums, and even red Columbine. Above rises two glaciated peaks. Here the wind cools and blows off the mosquitos, the stream sings its low sound without having to shout to be heard over the sound of passing conversation.

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