south slope

  • January 07, 2019
  • Posted by Galen Cook

Hi all! Greetings from the Selway watershed.  I have a poem to share with you but first some backstory: Our last hitch was a 9-day cut-and-run from the Lost Horse Canyon road back to our home base at Moose Creek Ranger Station. “Cut-and-run” means we maintenance the trail while we backpack along it, moving our camp each day in accord with how many miles we are able to clear. The “cut” refers to the primary task our work consists of:  sawing and removing logs that have fallen into the trail and pose an obstacle to horses and hikers (not to mention wolves, elk, bear, etc.).  So, bottom line, this hitch was beautiful - rad creeks and lakes, incredible views of the Bitterroot Range, many miles of high ridge top trail. This poem was written on the south slope of Freeman Peak, looking out over the endless mountains fading into each other. Every detail is true.  Enjoy!


wolf howls
sweet berry bushes
  a fire red
  beyond the horizon
long-armed ridges
like furrowed sand
mountains tumbling
across the land

spider’s web
  glistening
round domes
high plateaus
jagged crowns
alpine bowls
  leave me
  speechless
out of the pale
a bird soaring
feathers dark through distance

six miles gone
  over a ridge
  heat waves
elk tracks
fifty-pound packs and a six-foot saw
dry sun
trees getting sparser
holding tight their conifer limbs
cool shadows
for bright-backed beetle
  shining green wings
songbird nests
a-tittering

time laughing
space sighing
from peak to peak
the wild wind roars
ripping down ridgetops
  till all fall away
dunes evaporate as blue
spaces fill with haze
wings turn on a current
then melt back to gray

waters surge, a boulder rolls
lava cools, rock fields form
and crumble with time
wild raven and range
dancing, singing

-Galen Cook


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