01 July 2014
Argentine Peak as seen from the Santiago Mine. In the distance is Square Top Mountain...
Part of the ridge of McCellan Mountain looming above the ruins, a corner of bunkhouse roof in the upper right...
I have mentioned the short sweetness, which is mountain summer. Up on the tundra, it's doubly so. It is said for every thousand vertical gained in the mountains is equal to traveling six-hundred miles north in latitude. Another factoid that fascinates me about this place; walking the world and its different environments just by climbing.
At twelve-thousand three hundred, the wildflowers were already in bloom. The sky was that shade of blue and fluffy cotton candy clouds drifted slowly overhead. Sometimes, the wind would kick up, almost Tibetan in its ferocity, reminding us it was a good idea to have jackets.
I really do dig the alpine. The grand panoramas and imposing peaks, so different than the wide open spaces of nowhere of which I grew up on. Its severity, in any season. The type of place one can disappear, whether intentionally or not, and never be heard from again. I find an odd sense of poetry in that.
The mill, the whole excuse we used to get up there, had survived the winter well. We delighted in the hubris of a jeeper bogging down in a field of dirty ivory below the ruins. One of our lot, the former dogcatcher-"animal control officer, get it fucking right!"-a man I think of as the Spider Jerusalem of the county, what for his personality and dysfunctional acts of simple humanity, guided a few travelers around the old buildings. I wandered amongst the rocks and wildflowers. It was a good day.
Although some of my wanders promise to take me above the trees, there is a certain comfort that'll I'll be up on the tundra on a steady basis this summer. I even have something of a base camp. The fact I may have to provide a history lesson to random people in four by fours, dirt bikes, and ATVs is simply the price of admission.