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Interstices, Outdoors, Out West, Out of the Ordinary & Memorable Desert and Mountain Moments

Interstices, Outdoors, Out West, Out of the Ordinary & Memorable Desert and Mountain Moments

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Interstices, Outdoors, Out West, Out of the Ordinary & Memorable Desert and Mountain Moments

Longueur:
215 pages
3 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Sep 20, 2013
ISBN:
9781301916092
Format:
Livre

Description

Take a moment to think about a special, quiet,, untouched and perfect moment that has occurred in your life. This book of essays is about those moments as they have occurred in the life of the author. He is an author who is passionate about the outdoors, nature, education, music, creativity and alternative thinking. But by no means is this solely a nature book, or solely a teaching book. It's more of a series of Western tales woven by one who lives for and appreciates the "interstices" of our world--those special moments that occur between the moments, days, and even the years of everyday living.
This collection of essays weave a tapestry of unique experiences and creative philosophy. The title, Interstices, also denotes the book's prominent philosophical thread. Discussion of those "places between" occurs frequently throughout the book and often at fresh and surprising moments. The subject matter of the essays is admittedly predominately outdoors, and wildly diverse in nature, yet often strays into arenas ranging from the nightclub to the interstate highway, from the classroom to the local commute.
Mark Doherty has also, among other things, been and English and Literature Teacher for over 20 years, teaching others to appreciate the writings of countless authors. His life has been dedicated to complimenting their works. Your reading of this book would be the ultimate compliment to his work.
There seem to be moments in time when works of literature appear at a critical cultural moment. This book has that potential. It is up to you to decide.

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Sep 20, 2013
ISBN:
9781301916092
Format:
Livre

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Interstices, Outdoors, Out West, Out of the Ordinary & Memorable Desert and Mountain Moments - Mark Doherty

INTERSTICES

Outdoors, Out West, Out of the Ordinary &

Memorable Desert and Mountain Moments

Copyright 2007 by Mark A. Doherty

Smashwords Edition

Essays

Moonlight and Shadow

Tetons 99, Cinnamon Red Griz

The Blue Banana

Frank & Stoney

Arches Delicate Telemark

Courthouse Chase

Moonrise—Bald Mountain

The Magic of Air and Water

Perfect Moments—Lower Courthouse in Winter

Porcupine Moonrise

SLC Knoll Contemplation

Power Out One Night at the Outlaw Saloon

Tukuhnikivatz (A Little Mountain With Big Memories)

Essay on the Rocks

Full Moon Solstice High Water Adventure

Running a River of Words

Flash Flood Fanatic

Peak to Peak Highway Moon

Eye of the Alligator

To Bill, Jeremy, and a Full Moon

A Leap of Faith

Ravens on the Rim

Our Banner—White Sail

Bluegrass, Sandstone, and Propellers

Cycling in the City—And a Flashback

Venues, Classrooms, and Sheep

I Came, I Saw, I Signed—Bald Mountain Summit Register

Flipping Pancakes and Rafts—Westwater

The Snow at the Edge of the Wilderness Road

After the Chairlift Stops

This One For The Birds

Blue and Cool, Water and Air—Sailing the Emerald Eye

Tales Tents Tell

Those Spaces We Rarely Ponder

To Sail or Knot to Sail—Bowknot Bend of the Green River

Ocean Kayaks Traveling a Short Segment of the Ocean Bound Green River

The Music Between Lines of Song

The Camping Go Round

The Q Word

Celestial Pilgrimage—A Comet Above the Desert

The Art of Living Activism

The Old Grove of Gobbler’s Knob

Extemporaneous Spring

The Big Spring Snowdrift

Oh Deer, Did I Scare Your Wildlife Away???

Rearview or Windfacing, Which One?

Finding Purple Glass

Singing Rainbow

Applause for Lightning

Rhythms and The Tides

Moonlight and Shadow

It was 110 degrees at six p.m. Even a lizard would blister in full sun on the rocks. And I was headed into a furnace—Arches National Park. It was August, mid 1980’s, and most of the tourists were in one of three places: floating in the Colorado river, sipping a gin and tonic in front of a motel swamp cooler, or far far away in Teton,Yellowstone, or Glacier country. This is good, I thought to myself, It’s desert-style hot. Too hot. The furnace blast of air through my open window withered my skin and stung my eyes. Breathing was difficult. Yes, my window to the too-hot evening in the scorching southwest desert was indeed open—a window of peace, calm, and nearly unpopulated quiet. I was stalking such a window into Arches National Park during this searing summer hot spell, hoping for an evening respite. It was full moon, I was a hunter; my quarry was solitude. I knew that heat drove humans away, lured solitude out of hiding and to within striking distance. And the moon? Well as solitude hunter, I was aiming to shoot the moon also.

I arrived at Devil’s Garden at sunset to find no cars left in the lot. The campground had only a few intrepid souls hidden in their air conditioned motor homes. I set off on the trail alone, and by the time the big orange disk of a summer full moon crested the Colorado Plateau, I was on top of Fin Canyon Rim surveying a magnificent high desert vista, and not a soul was around. I took a picture of the moon, drank some water, ate some late dinner and listened to the evening come alive.

The night was so inviting that I debated hiking all of fin canyon, but knowing how tricky moonlight & shadow can be, I chose to stay high and strike out for Double O Arch and Dark Angel. Furthermore, the general direction of my route would be fully lit by moon for the return trip due to the angles of the canyons in the area that ran parallel to those of the summer’s low angle moonrays. Other canyons and monoliths, as I was to be reminded of later, ran at angles that kept ground in shadow much or all of the night.

Dark Angel, the lone standing pinnacle in that region, towered resplendently over me as I perched in the spire’s shadow in the moonlight. I reveled in the dreamy moment before returning to the trailhead for my drive home. It was a magical hike, and nearly midnight when I pulled out of the empty lot and headed down the twenty-five mile Arches road towards Moab. My eyes were so well adjusted to the light that I naturally scoffed at the need for headlights and took off down the road. It was so bright and my eyes so well adjusted to the light that I spotted several deer and even one lone coyote close to the road. Nonetheless I drove at a sane 35 mph, window down, relishing the fresh warm breeze that carried the desert scents from the subdued colors of the distant desert vistas.

No-one else was out at this magical moonlit midnight hour. Even other prospective moonlight hikers must have already returned to town, if indeed they had come out at all in the first place.

By the time I reached Courthouse Wash, the straightening stretch of road and superb driving had lulled me into a 40 mph comfort zone—still plenty slow to see and avoid anything on the empty road.

But as I approached Lower Park Avenue, I saw that the northern most butte of Courthouse Towers was still casting a monstrous shadow across the road and far into the sage, greasewood, and blackbrush beyond.

Of course, winter sun angles!!! I thought to myself, realizing that the moon goes more south in summer, just like the winter sun. I recalled that there was always a sun shadow cast by the towers over the road late into the day in winter—always have to watch for frosty roads then. So naturally, on this night, it was a moon shadow across the road.

Approaching the darkness at speed, I reached for my headlights. It was, after all, several hundred yards long—that shadow. But as I neared it, I noticed the white line on the far right of the road, which extended into the shadow and seemed to glow with a luminescence giving a faint but clearly visual definition to the gradual curvature of the roadway. Why bother with the lights? The line would guide me. After all, turning on the lights would take out my night vision for some time. I didn’t want to readjust or travel with lights. Not yet. I simply slowed to a safer 30 mph, focused on the faintly glowing line, and plunged into the shadow. Wildlife was a risk, but I calculated it quite low as my car was naturally the noisiest thing out there and quite visible to any creature unlikely enough to be on that short darkened stretch of road.

The air rushing past my face from the window almost seemed cooler in the shadow of the moonlight, and my senses were heightened with a tinge of adrenaline as I tracked off the faint glowing line and eyed the shadow’s far edge where I would once again burst out into full moonlight. It reminded me of a trip many years prior when I raced downhill on a road high in the Italian Alps that clung to a mountainside with stone bridges and rock rails on steep switchbacks—on a bicycle. Then I plummeted into a tunnel, without lights, going 30 mph. I was heading from Innsbruck, Austria to Venice, Italy on a bike tour, and there were tunnels on the descent. Several of them. This one was a long one. When I hit the darkness of the tunnel from the mountain sunshine, the only thing that kept me on track was the tiny spot of light at the other end!! I focused on that dot, praying that no cars would enter the other side, and raced through trying to sense when I got too close to the walls by the change in air. The walls were cooler than the surrounding air, and I could feel it when I got close. Suddenly a noise started, sounding like a truck entering the tunnel behind me. I braced and waited to see my shadow reflected in his headlights, then I could swing to the side and pray that he saw me in time. But no lights illuminated the darkness, and the noise got louder, louder, then Oh my God loud, and then it blasted by me!!! Or rather I blasted by it. A minute later, relieved, shaking insanely with adrenaline, I burst out of the tunnel’s mouth into the sun. The noise? It was a huge vent fan, blasting the air from the end of the tunnel. Simple enough, if you knew it was coming.

Some of that same adrenaline ticked my senses as I drove into the Courthouse Towers cliff shadow, but this burst of instantaneous mental flashback was in and out of mind in a second, and I once again became aware of the cool desert air through my open window and whistling through the opened moon roof of the car.

And then, half way through the shadow, came a tremendous whoosh. I heard it, felt the subtle changes in airflow around the car, and jumped at the shock of sudden noise, all before I realized what had happened. At 30 mph, in the moon shadow of Courthouse Towers, at midnight on a summer’s night, I had just met and zipped past an oncoming car!! A car traveling at perhaps 30 mph themselves also with its lights out. They too, were undoubtedly watching that faint white line. Thank God for white lines when blurring the lines on the roadway!

My adrenaline rocketed through the roof as I hit the end of shadow and burst again into the moonlight. In my mirror I could see the dark spot of the other car moving on down the Arches road.

What were they thinking?

What was I thinking?

There was one more shadow coming up, this time cast from the next butte. It was a shorter shadow, but I turned on my lights, brights, all the way.

I still occasionally drive stretches of roads in moonlight without lights, but they’re short, absolutely deserted, and usually dirt roads somewhere in the desert or mountains, often covered in snow.

Since that lucky, amazing encounter, I’ve come to appreciate hiking and X-C skiing in the moonlight much much more. One passing ship in the night was enough of a hint for me! I had successfully hunted solitude down that night, cornered it—and it nearly got me!

Tetons—99 Cinnamon Red Griz

The beautiful cinnamon red yearling grizzly was grazing intently on grubs and roots when we broke out of the trees on our early morning ascent to the high snowfields. Although startled, we did not stop because we were already walking past him on the first switchback of our trail, but he paused, turned his incredibly thick and furry head towards us, the early morning sun highlighting the reds in his plush coat, and I caught his gleaming eye.

Go, fast, now! whispered Deb with urgency. And I agreed. Before he might perceive us a threat, we zipped up the trail, adrenaline pumping and hearts pounding. But with a backward glance I saw that he had turned back to the interesting upturned log he had unearthed, apparently unworried about two wayward hikers, more attracted to the tasty grubs at his paws than the walkers in the bush. All I could see as we departed up the trail was his golden hump, moving with muscled motions in the early morning sun.

As our heartbeats slowed to normal trail climbing rates, our hearts themselves swelled with joy at having seen such a great creature in the wild. They key for us had been the time: early early morning before any other hikers were moving. The other key was the silence, unbroken by us as hikers. Although we routinely talked quietly as we walked, we always fell into long periods of silent, meditative walking. And this habit had yielded glimpses of wildlife afforded to only the attentive, silent, and alone. This was not our first grizzly, maybe not our last, but as memorable as any sighting.

Naturally, the ranger back at the station later denied any grizzlies being in this neighborhood of the park. It would have been a cinnamon brown bear, she stated flatly as if talking into a megaphone to a group of tourists on the Jenny Lake tourboat. No grizzlies in this area. They don’t come down this far south from Yellowstone.

Was she protecting the bear? We knew it was not a brown bear. The hump, the size, the movements even, and perhaps the intelligent look it gave me told us. Was she ignorant? Did she not think about the potential range of grizzlies? Was not Teton Park adjacent to Yellowstone? Did she think that we were just tourists crying wolf? Maybe she didn’t realize that we had both rangered Bechler Region of Yellowstone only a few years prior to this experience. (Actually, Deb rangered and I volunteered as trail crew.) Maybe she couldn’t see that we were seasoned outdoorspeople. But she definitely waved off our report, evidently not observing the non-trendy outfits we wore, and unable to see the sun lines and experience lines in our faces, and certainly not able to look directly into the eyes that reflected distant horizons.

I still believe we were misjudged when reporting the bear. Now I think maybe we shouldn’t have bothered reporting it. What if she had believed us? What kind of an uproar would ensue if they closed such a popular trail? What kind of bear expert would come hunting for the bear? What would he hunt with?

Lately we tell no-one about wildlife. Not a soul knows when we spot one of nature’s greats. We have learned that silence is a great protector of wildlife. Too many rangers have contacts with wildlife officials, and too many wildlife officers are glorified poachers with misguided agendas. Even the wolf people are prone to exterminate animals because they’re bound by government agencies to keep the peace with the ranchers. Radio tags are great for research, but they also make handy hunter game finders when public sentiment turns antipredator. Hell, we knew it was a grizzly. We knew the shape of a grizzly. We could have photographed the tracks even. Furthermore, brown bears don’t carry the same attitude, one that speaks in unspoken, sublimely confident language, "You’re not as easy, nor as tasty right now as these grubs. Maybe if you were a stinking carcass, but now I’ve got other things to eat. If I wanted you, I’d have you. It’s just that I’m busy right now."

And it’s true. A grizzly matched with a woman or man minus the rifle would be the superior predator. Walkin’ Jim Stoltz put it so eloquently in his song The Food Chain where he describes a Griz as eating an LL Bean equipped hiker. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if we took away the guns and let man versus man and man versus nature be defined on original terms?

The madder the cows get, the dumber the burgeoning human population, the more selfish the politics of wildlife and nature, the more we appreciate traditional creatures, especially predatory ones, who are still savvy enough to eke out an existence and survive. I’m sure we’ll see more bears, cats, eagles, and others. We will, as always, be awed and respectful of their natural beauty and greatness. We will also keep them a secret, one that warms our hearts and memories through the long winters of modern civilization and oblivious minds.

I didn’t see anything, did you?

Nope, certainly not me!

The Blue Banana

There it was, a great, huge, massive eighteen foot long fifteen hundred dollar banana sitting on the brown winter grass of the front lawn in the afternoon sunshine and cool frosty winter air. At least it looked like a banana, the way the bow and stern both bent one way making a sweeping yet subtle arc appear along both sides of the hull. Perhaps I should say it was kind of a banana shaped boat. The only problem with it being bananalike was that it was a pretty blue color, not a very appetizing color for that particular fruit. Nonetheless, the plastic hull of this lovely ocean kayak on the lawn was obviously ever so slightly bent in a sideways arc like a banana—not a healthy quality for an expensive eighteen foot sea kayak that was meant to be straight and true as it sliced through the pristine waters upon which it was designed to travel.

Steve, my exasperated roommate who had just drained his entire savings, and some of his winter’s rent, on this delicious boat was standing in the yard with both hands on his head, mouth agape in frustrated astonishment, looking like he was about to pull out his hair.

"I can’t believe it! They sent me a bent boat!"

I had to concur, it was indeed slightly bent, sitting there all shiny and new on the lawn, it’s rudder still taped up protectively in cardboard and its price sticker and instruction manual still dangling from the bow handle. Steve started making several huffing sounds, expelling his frustration in indecipherable exhalations. For a moment I thought he was going to blow, like an overfilled tea kettle. There was even steam coming from his mouth in the cold, crisp winter air.

Steam, breath, I thought to myself, I can see his breath!

Suddenly a thought occurred to me, and I walked up to the beautiful bent boat and put my hand on the hull. Then I reached over and put my other hand on the opposite side of the hull and thought about air temperature. Sure enough, the hand in the sun was very warm, but on the shady side my other hand almost froze to the frigid plastic surface.

We turned the boat around, Steve mumbling questions about getting a lemon

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