By JEFF LUND
September 11, 2019
(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - I thought about Matt Hamilton’s “Dude” shirt as my buddy Ryan and I ambled up the mountain’s eroded path as the sun came up. It’s the best bargain hike around, by far. The name is all the social media captain you need and, in Matt’s usage, a reference to a movie that had a cult following, but outgrew it. So, it works on so many levels.
The trail was a muddy chute though it hadn’t rained in a few days. In some places, it took on the braided qualities of some of the larger area rivers. I wondered which was the main channel.
I wondered how many people who don’t live here wondered if they had what it takes and thought about trying it once reaching the top.
I wondered how many people were up there on the opening day of deer season.
I wondered how many people hiked up it then realized it was opening day of deer season.
I wondered how many people went up with a coveted goat tag, and down with a goat.
I wondered how many people used the mountain for photography or camping.
I wondered how many people used it for medicine.
At the exposed section, I of course looked over, but didn’t get too close. I’m pretty good at standing, but the addition of consequences sometimes shakes my confidence.
I looked over.
“Dude, that’s steep.”
The tall grass that started growing once the snow relented was melting in its own way. First losing its ability to stand, then fully giving in to the change of the season.
We reached the top, then found a spot to set up and look around. We saw bears gorging themselves on blueberries. Blueberry bears. Ryan had visions of tasty snacks, as did I. We spent all but two hours of daylight up there, glassing, watching and enjoying the warm September day. We didn’t come home with anything to turn into tasty snacks, but it was one of those days that stand out when, during the dark afternoons of December, you think about the previous summer.
On the drive down the mountain, I thought about how much I love September and April. Edge months. Before the madness starts, when the madness winds down.
A summer in Alaska isn’t a vacation. It’s the time to hustle. Hustle to make money, hustle to put up fish, hustle to put up meat, hustle to put up firewood, hustle to get everything in order for the winter ahead.
By the time September comes around, you have what you have and are putting the finishing touches on the crazy season. You don’t have to hustle. Well, unless you have an empty freezer except for the remains of an opening day deer because you spent the summer in Wyoming catching trout and releasing them because you’ve been hooked deep by something else that makes an empty freezer worth it.
Anyway, I love September.
Book club starts.
Ketchikan congeals (as do the rest of the Alaskan communities) in order to find ways to make the winter not just tolerable, but worth it.
And that’s pretty cool, Dude.
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