Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last day of summer

I headed up to Gastineau Peak and Gold Ridge today. I did a little meandering and a little dawdling, and ended up burning nearly five hours of daylight on the mountain in the morning/afternoon. I have been consuming a lot of my free time lately in "long" outdoor activities and evenings with friends. I am really starting to feel the fatigue of never being at home, which is interesting, because I have been battling a raging wanderlust that also seems to be burning holes in my contentedness.

But it was a nice day on the Mount Roberts trail, with rolling clouds and flecks of sunlight. There were no cruise ships in port this morning, which meant the tram terminal was closed, which meant I didn't see another soul on the mountain until I passed two fellow "through" hikers (both solo) on the way down.

I did see a coyote, which shadowed me at a safe distance for quite a while. I'd stop and the coyote would stop, and we'd just stare at each other for a few seconds until finally, I got bored first and started walking again. And sure enough, the coyote walked along with me, although much higher up the ridge. It was interesting to see an animal so curious about a human in the area just above the tram. Mount Roberts has to be the most heavily human-populated trail in Juneau, at least in general. But not today - it was just me and the coyote, and a whole bunch of ptarmigans mottled with new white winter feathers. This picture is about as far as my little camera can zoom, so you may have to take my word that there's a coyote in there.

Requisite picture at the peak, just as the low-lying clouds were finally starting to clear up. I brought mittens and a hat today, which is good, because light snow flurries brushed the ridge for most of the morning.

It was a good way to spend the last "long" day of the year. Monday is the autumn equinox, and with it equal hours for both day and night across the globe. Then in the northern hemisphere, we begin to slip into darkness. And here in the far northern hemisphere, we slip into a lot of darkness. I don't consider that a bad thing, just different, a new way of seeing things, a new adventure. So by the grace of Gastineau Peak go I into autumn, into the first long night.