Sunday, August 2, 2015

Kluane's wild Donjek route

My Delorme in Reach tracking map for the Donjek Glacier. Square images mark start and end points on the Alaska Highway as well as our six camp sites during the trek.
From June 21 to 27 I hiked this impressive wilderness route that passes by the terminus of the Donjek glacier. It is located mostly in Kluane National Park with the remainder on the traditional territory of the Kluane First Nations. Max from Terre Boréale, a guide company in Whitehorse, Yukon, was my guide and companion for these seven awe-inspiring days.

We were the first ones on the Donjek route this year. When we registered at the Parks Canada visitor centre the warden was skeptical of our ambition to hike it in 7 days, as the normal time is between 8 and 10 days. Yet, permits in hand and undaunted we set out a little while later from the Alaska highway turnoff at the Duke River, just a few miles past Burwash Landing.

Day 1 - Burwash Uplands
We discovered quickly that the description we were using had a certain vagueness about it; but it did feature the occasional and very useful UTM coordinates which made route finding considerably easier. 
Camp 1 in Burwash Uplands. (Click on pics to enlarge)

The hike in from the road goes along an old mining road that most parties would drive up for 5+ km. We took that first hour as a warm up. Packs - filled with 9 1/2 days of food (just in case) and plenty of fuel, and the necessities for living in the wilderness - were at their heaviest, but the hiking felt easy. 

We met some hail and then mere rain in the wide open Uplands. Our rain gear worked well and we eagerly continued on our way.

The hardest part came when we finally left the old mining road which had become faint in parts after about 16 km and hiked across a very hummocky tundra. Here the going was very slow and squishy. After a 9-hour day we found a perfect camp site near a creek that set us up well for the next day.

Day 2 - Hoge Pass to Donjek River
Max starts down the scree.
We enjoyed an easy morning and a bit of a late start. Max and I were getting to know each other as hikers, and gauging how this day would set us up for either a 7-day trek or a longer one. 

We entered the national park, had a short break near the Warden's cabin and then headed up toward Hoge Pass. We'd gain considerable elevation and then we'd descent a long scree slope to get to Hoge creek. Route finding here was tricky as the description didn't assist much and there were several ridges to pick from for the descent. Concerned about getting cliffed out we took our time to look at maps and landscapes, knowing full well, that since we couldn't see the whole route anywhere, we might well need to be prepared for some challenges. In the end, we plunged down a scree field for about 500 m elevation loss that featured some of the most challenging terrain I'd been on. Certainly, this was not the route described. Some sections where beautifully easy with mostly packed sand to plow through even if it was  steep. But much of it had just that size rock on it, or was so hard packed that edging was impossible. I just focused on breathing and relaxing as I went.

When we got to Hoge Creek we found that water levels were lower than many others had warned us about. We crossed the creek only five (5) times and could rock hop, rather than ford it. 

We put up camp where Hoge Creek meets the mighty Donjek river. This day was about 9.5 hours; even though that included a long lunch at Hoge Pass to enjoy the scenery and a few shorter snack breaks. Good nutrition is all important when pushing long days with heavy packs. Also eating meant the packs got lighter!

Day 3 - Donjek Glacier
Heading toward the bushwhack section (Photo by Max)
This would be our easiest day of the whole hike. Just under 8 hours and we could hike along the Donjek river bed for a few hours before we needed to bushwhack up into the woods as the river filled the valley. We spent a couple of hours bushwhacking with the benefit of an old single track horse trail. 

Day 4 - Donjek to Bighorn Creek 
This was another easy day, spent sight seeing  at the Donjek glacier, listening to it heave and break and watching large chunks of ice fall into the river.
Max and the glacier.
Camp 3 - overlooking  the glacier (Photo by Max)

It was such a beautiful day and the hiking was easy. The biggest challenge for lunch was to find a bit of clear creek water for cooking. Many of the creeks on the map were in fact dry, or water would surface for short sections only to go underground again. We eventually found a nice lunch spot.

The ultimately biggest challenge of this day however was crossing Bighorn Creek in the afternoon. Its water ran high and it fell to Max to find good crossing spots. We spent over an hour navigating back and forth as we got cliffed out repeatedly. 

I learned a lot about safely crossing fast moving, big waters; Max and I became a good team as we settled into our creek crossing grove.

We also decided to try the Bighorn Creek Canyon, a very narrow section, first thing the next morning when the water would be at its lowest. It had become clear, that it would be impassable otherwise (which would force us into a long detour via Expectation Pass) as the water rose by well over a foot through the day.

Day 5 - Bighorn Creek Canyon to Atlas Pass to Duke River
This was to become an epic day.
Afternoon crossing of a very big Bighorn Creek. Way back,
that is Max stacking his stuff to come and cross with me.

Our 4:50 am start saw me nearly 'eat it' within minutes in the frigid creek when the force of the water, still above knee high, and the rolling rocks conspired so that I lost my footing. Happily, I could grab Max' arm and got myself back up as he held on. Wow. I was all awake now! 

We carried on, moved forward and just had to cross the creek one more time. Eventually I noticed blood running down my leg and my shin and knee ballooning with some large bruises. But since the water was so cold, I never felt a thing.
Circling with the grizzly bears; they are in the background
at the edge of the plateau to the right of me. (Photo by Max)

From here we headed up Chert Creek, where we changed out of our creek crossing shoes and warmed up with a 6 am breakfast and coffee! 

By 8:30 am we had topped out at the plateau near the head of Chert Creek and promptly sighted a grizzly bear and her cup heading for us. We stayed calm as they were feeding and ended up circling toward us, while we circled out of the area. We had some amazing close views of both bears but were happy that they simply went about their business and weren't disturbed by our presence. We hiked up a ways toward Atlas Pass and took a break after all that excitement.
Nearing Atlas Pass (Photo by Max)

Continuing upwards to Atlas Pass was beautiful as we moved through green hillsides and into the vegetation-free alpine. We gained about 1,000 m elevation by lunch. 

And what a stunning place to have lunch!

Bonus: this was the first day the thick haze from forest fires cleared and we were able to see mountain ranges deep into
Lunch at Atlas Pass enjoying stupendous views. (Photo by Max)
Kluane, toward the Icefield.

We had a nap after lunch to gather energy and our wits for an epic scree descent and long hike toward the Duke River. This descent was described in very precise detail, which suggested to us that there really is just one safe way down! We stuck to the description, including the Hole 9 green - it is quite something when you see that patch of green suddenly!

The descent and hike out toward the Duke river took about 13 hours. But then came the sprawling beaver ponds along the Duke. We got wedged in on the mossy, wet and steep forest side and we ended up bushwhacking for an
Heading up on Atlas Pass to get to scree entry. (Photo by Max)
hour before deciding to cross the beaver pond in search of dry land. Happily Max found just that and 14.5 hours after the day's start we set up camp and contemplated the fact that we were indeed moving at a very fast pace and would get back to the Alaska Highway and our van well within 7 days!

Day 6 - To Copper Joe Creek

This day was supposed to be a normal hiking day: cross the Duke in a safe spot, hike along it for a few more kilometers and then head up to the saddle and drop to Cache Lake to camp.
Me on that last bit of  vertical scree.
The key: just keep on moving fast!
(Photo by Max)

Well, it got a little more interesting when we couldn't locate the 'faint path' that was once a mining road and instead bushwhacked through thick brush from the river to the saddle. Max' way-finding made sure we kept moving forward and upward with purpose; handily dispensing with the willows and shrubs and stopping for the views when we came out of the woods. We got to Cache Lake early enough to just take a break and then hike along Copper Joe Creek to gain a little time on our last day. Unfortunately, the creek bed was completely dry! So rather than going just a little further we ended up with a bit of a hike as our water supplies dwindled.

We were happy to get to the first sign of water in that creek quite a ways down and set up our final camp. 

Day 7 - to the Highway
We didn't have much hiking left to do and reached the highway by noon. Unlike other people, we had our one vehicle on the other side of Burwash Landing about 15 km along the Highway. With no luck hitchhiking we ended up walking nearly into Burwash before a truck stopped and we jumped in the back. This made very short order of those final 10 km.
Duke River vistas. (Photo by Max)

They say this is a serious wilderness route and it is: impressive creek crossings (even as we had quite low flows for some of them), fantastical mixed scree descents off Hoge and Atlas passes, bushwhacking through thick vegetation (thankfully sometimes aided by game trails and an overgrown horse trail) and finding your own way in a truly wild and remote place. This trek has it all and demands it all. 

I loved every moment of these six and half days with Max and Terre Boreale.

Next up: more Yukon mountain excursions and then the Andes and an attempt on Aconcagua.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

inReach message from Inga Petri

We're camping at Hoge creek at Donjek river tonight. Another 9.5 hours of some hard hiking. About 38-40k covered in 2 days. Beautiful land!

View the location or send a reply to Inga Petri:
https://explore.delorme.com/textmessage/txtmsg?mo=bfe5b496a7ac471e8a3c77add6753bce31608966&adr=strategicmoves1.trails%40blogger.com

Inga Petri sent this message from:
Lat 61.277983 Lon -139.614365

This message was sent using the DeLorme inReach two-way satellite communicator with GPS. To learn more, visit http://www.delorme.com/inReach/

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Yukon's Mighty Icefields

Well. What can you say about this massive icefield?

From May 23 to June 9 I was part of an Alpine Club of Canada Yukon (ACC) trip. Some people stayed for 4 days, some for a week and a few of us for the whole duration. The ACC Icefield Discovery camp was supposed to be two weeks (May 23 to June 6), but weather and massive clouds extended that for some of us by 3 days and for others by 5!

Anyways, words defy this "trip-of-a-life-time" landscape (haha, it's my roughly annual trip of a lifetime and only Part 1 at that...) In any case, let me show you this place with a few pics taken by Erika Joubert, an awesome camp mate and chum. Click on pics to see them larger - it's worth it!

My own pictures are on a camera and Samsung Android phone that are both still in the Yukon with all of my gear. When we finally got a flight out on the 9th day of no flights, we had decided to get people out and leave gear behind for later pick up. All to say, there'll be more pics soon, as I am heading back to resume Yukon 2015 Part 2 with trekking, festivals and visiting friends.

Gnurdelhorn (~3,350 m) and Queen Mary (~3,900 m)
Icefield Discovery camp is to the right of Gnurdelhorn. It has two
weather haven tents - one for kitchen, one with a half for gear
and the other half sleeping. And a few tents.

Week 1 was hot. Measured 27 C in the sun one of these days,
and that wasn't the hottest one! Needless to say, the earlier
we got to ski the better the snow was. Except it did get
super soft, super fast. Not the sort of conditions
this Eastern  Canadian, icy ski slope skier knows how to handle.

Classic: mountaineer's pose - lol.

Massive Mount Logan, Canada's highest mountain (5,959 m) and the
largest in the world by sheer mass, was our steady companion,
and our  mark for cloud movements of sorts.
 Even though, it's 40 km away.
This is the sun starting to set for a little while.
 Once I get my camera I will post
pics from a very cool flight seeing trip a few of us did
before the weather turned on us.

My first trip to Pikatak while the weather was warm
and the clouds few. This was taken by Laura Storch
a few feet below the summit.
Gnurdelhorn is in the background.


Pretty cushy beach life. It was so hot, people were all about
sun protection. Granted on a glacier at about 2,600 m there's
plenty of reason to try and keep sun radiation at bay.

Week 2 we were weathered in. A couple of stormy days with some
good winds, but it was mostly due to a fast moving wall of cloud
and tiny weather windows, that there were no flights.
Icefield Discovery managed one flight out on the 9th day (3 days
later than the final intended day at camp) and the rest
of the crew got picked up another 2 days later
after getting though another storm.
This picture was taken around 5:30 am and the skies were clear.
The sun came up right over the col at MB Peak from our vantage point.
Within a couple of hours we were socked in again.
We ended up making the check in time with the pilot earlier
as the best windows were that kind of early.

We did get out on a few excursions as the weather wasn't bad.
Isothermal snow (super wet spring snow) notwithstanding.
This is me on the way back up the glacier from Pikatak to camp;
enhanced by clouds.


See that pool below? All kinds of talk around camp about
going for a dip in there when it was hot out.
Here we are heading up the slope of Pikatak to the summit.

Despite the long period without any flights and no way out, folks
maintained their good humour. This is a very large "Hi Tom"
(that is Captain Tom, our long-awaited Helio pilot) stamped
out repeatedly as the snow kept drifting over it.

Monday, February 2, 2015

This and That About Ecuador

I have read, observed, and been told about some interesting, amusing, fascinating and odd facts about Ecuador over the last few weeks. Here is a sampling:

Agriculture/ Farming
  • There are 500 varieties of potatoes
  • Guinea pigs, which are a staple, live inside people's houses in the country. How the guinea pigs react to a person i.e. if they stay calm or squeel, in indicates if the person has good or bad energy.
  • Quinoa is five times the price of rice, making it beyond the means of many
  • All the produce you find in the markets is organic
  • There are four varieties of bananas
Social Framework
  • Healthcare is free
  • Education is free
  • Daycare is free
  • People who require assistance -- welfare -- are not given money but the services
  • In Cuenca, there are daily free Zumba (or other dance or exercise classes) for all
Culture
  • Ecuadorians are descendants of the Caribbean peopke
  • Quechua, an indigenous language, is the second language taught in school
  • Panama hats did not originate in Panama -- they are a product of Ecuador, made from the fronds of the toquilla palm, grown only in Ecuador
Exports
  • Oil
  • Shrimp
  • Bananas
  • Roses

Miscellaneous 
  • The currency is the US dollar
  • The voltage is 120v, the same as in Canada -- unlike other South American countries

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Ecuador is Wired

Wi- fi. Mostly everywhere. Free. Always. Sounds awesome, don't you think? Ecuador, as in other South American countries I have had the pleasure of discovering, is wired in just that way. In a location that we might consider unlikely, such as a mom-and-pop restaurant, you can practically count on being able to log on, and at no cost. Imagine! What it does, of course, is make communication accessible to most people instead of a few. Canada should consider adopting such a model, I propose.

Wi-fi? Why not?

Quito -- The Capital of So Much

Arriving in Quito at midnight, I arranged for a pick-up at the airport for an extra $5.00, given that I am travelling sola this time. Ah, South America! I am so thrilled to be back, this time to explore Ecuador. Landing at the airport at once felt so familiar yet not. Discoveries and experiences were spread out before me, from the superb Andes to the cloud forests to the Pacific Coast to the Amazon. Hola Ecuador!

Quito is spectacularly located high in the Andes at 2,850m. The airport is a 40 minute cab ride from El Centro, the area of Quito I chose to stay in (this area is referred to as "the old town" by travellers.) It is the colonial part of the city containing fine architecture celebrated in the government buildings, numerous churches and cultural centres. And, as in other well designed cities, there is a grand square in the centre where people congregate, families eat ice cream together, flowers bloom, street merchants sell their wares and you can get your shoes shinned.

In addition to the many fascinating museums and cultural centres to visit, Quito offers a unique sky tram (the teleférico) that zips you up to 4,100m for a spectacular view of the city's mountainous landscape -- if you catch a clear day, that is. I arrived to cloud cover, as I was told I would, but cared not for I was at the top of Cruz Loma.

On a Monday, I happened upon the weekly changing of the guard at the Palacio del Gobierno. It was quite the spectacle complete with a marching band, guards on beautifully decorated horses, and rows of seated school children decked out in their crisp uniforms as part of the ceremony. The president, Rafael Correa, together with the vice-president, Jorge Moreno, presided over the crowds of office workers stepping out for the occasion, residents, school children and tourists alike. My heart swooned hearing the Ecuadorians sing their rousing national anthem.
The president, Rafael Correa, and the vice-president, Jorge Moreno, waved to the crowd gathered in the Plaza Grande. The flag was raised as part of the ceremony.









Nothing drab about the ceremonial dress of the guards and horses alike.
As one would gather, Quito is one of the main transportation hubs, with many flights around the country passing through it. Quito also has two bus stations, one at the north and one at the south, each serving the respective parts of the country. To travel to Mindo, next up on my meanderings, I needed to go to the northern bus station. No problem, I thought, I will take a cab. (Cabs are inexpensive, although I did not need to take many because of where my accommodation, Hostal Minka, was located.) When I flagged down the only female cab driver I had seen, she told me that, no, I did not want to take a cab because it would be too expensive. Take the bus, she said, as she gestured "that way." So off I went "that way" and after more directions from police officers (of which there are many patrolling the streets), I found myself standing on a bus platform ready for my 25 cent ride. You go far for your money on a bus! I do truly love taking local buses because you see so much of the place and get to take in citizens' regular day -- and be part of it. With seven minutes to spare, I boarded the bus for Mindo. I did not know then that I would be so enchanted by this town in the cloud forest.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Wrapping up an amazing year of travel

Last March I reached a personal milestone: I have been to all 10 Canadian provinces and 3 Northern territories at least once. Business trips have helped immensely, especially to get to Canada's North.

Here's a quick accounting for 2014. Leisure trips with Jan took us to:
  • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for a perfect yoga retreat with our local studio
  • Yukon for hiking, camping, arts and culture and visiting friends this summer
  • Adirondack Mountains in New York for further High Peaks bagging
  • Toronto, ON to see friends 
On the business side, I added considerable mileage with trips to:
  • New York, NY
  • Boston, MA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • St. John's, NL (twice!)
  • Charlottetown, PEI
  • Halifax, NS
  • Haliburton, ON (twice, too)
  • Midland, ON
  • London, ON
  • Toronto, ON
  • Portage La Prairie, MB
  • Whitehorse, YT
  • Iqaluit, NU
I traveled about 70,000 km which is more than any other year so far. Put another way it is close to twice the circumference of our home, Earth.

For 2015, a few trips are already confirmed including a return to Halifax and a first trip to Regina, SK for conferences. We are looking at a return to the Yukon to keep exploring its wild places, perhaps combined with a first foray into Alaska. And it is time for a trip to Germany to see family and friends again, even though perhaps it will have to wait until early 2016 - we'll see. 

Meanwhile, Jan will kick of 2015 in amazing style with a few weeks to explore Ecuador from the Andes to its coast. Look for her blog posts right here as her adventures unfold!

Ah, so many places to go next!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lesser 46ers deliver big

Gil brook near Indian Head 
We headed back country in the Adirondack High Peaks for the Labour Day weekend to enjoy the essential life of the outdoors for a few days.

It was a stellar weekend.

A lovely and very large camp site just for us.
The drive down on Saturday was fast, as I didn't need to stop in at US Immigration due to my still valid I-94. We left our car in a spot at the 73 at St. Huberts hiker parking that had just become available - sometimes, on one of the busies hiking weekends, it pays to arrive relatively late in the day. From there access to the back country runs through the private Adirondack Mountain Reserve - Ausable Club (A short history - driven by conservation). Mandatory trail head registration featured the Club's security person quizzing us on our overnight plans, whether we had bear barrels and so on. Satisfied that we were well equipped for 3 days he wished us a fine trip.

Inga on a cloudy Colvin summit.
After about an hour we left the private Lake Road, and within 30 minutes we located a designated camp site near Indian Head. Arriving much faster than expected, we decided to set up camp and then work up a proper appetite. As the trail became noticeably steeper that worked very well. By 6:30 pm we were set up by the brook to heat up dinner. An hour later dusk began to rapidly turn to dark.

The rain arrived on cue overnight. We lucked into a dry spell for breakfast and then headed out on the trail to Mt Colvin and Blake. These are two of the lesser 46ers. In fact, Blake is a historic artifact, since it is not quite 4,000' in height. (These two are 4,057' and 3,980' respectively.) However, the 46ers years ago decided to not alter the historic list just because newer surveys recalibrated heights a little better.

Hiking out on a super beautiful, sunny day.
Still life of boots drying and gear awaiting packing.
Summit-wise, neither offered us much: Colvin was engulfed in clouds and Blake is in the trees. Hiking-wise, we enjoyed the usual Adirondack wilderness challenges of steep, rocky and wet terrain that requires the hiker's constant attention and vigilance. One hallmarks of the remarkable technical hiking here is that the descent often takes as long as the ascent did; this 7-mile return took us about 7 hours through rain and clouds and mud. We met just 5 other people in 2 groups all day: When the weather forecast is for adverse weather, the back country-exploring population drops dramatically. This usually feels like a bonus; at least as long as the weather is "bad within reason".

By the time we settled back at camp to make dinner, the rain had subsided and we enjoyed a well deserved meal by our own private brook.

On Sunday, we had a leisurely morning followed by a quick hike out and a drive to Chapel Pond, the best High Peaks swimming hole. The it was off to The Cottage in Lake Placid for a late lunch, a bit of shopping and a beautiful drive home.
Best patio in Lake Placid! The Cottage at Mirror Lake. 

In recent years, wilderness has taken an ever greater place in my world. These days, it is the  perhaps mythical place where we can still roam freely that makes most sense to me. Living in a city, even one as splendid and close to the outdoors as Ottawa, has me feeling wistful for the essentialness, the self-reliance of the unpaved.

It's great to have the Adirondack wilderness close by and to have mountain excursions and wild places on my mind for the next adventure.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fording Bullion Creek (video)

We don't usually cross creeks like this in the Eastern part of the country. So it was exciting to feel the power of the water tugging at our legs as we dealt with the largest obstacle on Slim's River West trail. Enjoy.

video

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Slim's River West, Kluane National Park


Happy: Jan. 
The last substantial hike of this Yukon trip took us to Kluane National Park, located a couple of hours from Whitehorse in the Southwest corner of the Territory. We opted for a relatively simple trail along Slim's River West/Ä’äy Chù West, which is entirely located inside the Park. The 22.5 km long trail features a wide variety of mountain features, alluvial fans, brush, sand dunes and creek crossing. The crossing of Bullion Creek made us stop and think. These glacial waters run fast, cold and quite high. Wading through such waters has not been part of our regular outings, so we were happy to have paid attention at the briefing with Parks staff.

Beautiful mountains, river and valley.
We also had been told that this trail has frequent bear activity. Around km 16 as expected we spotted a grizzly heading across the slope toward some tasty berry bushes. As we hiked hugging the river rather than the mountain slope, we decided to proceed and kept an eye on the bear until it disappeared into the bushes. A few minutes later, we saw him stand up on his hind legs, look at us and sniff - he had noticed us by the river as we were now perpendicular to him and he might have heard us finally as we moved up-wind - then turn and run off. Clearly this adult had better things to do than be near a couple of hikers.
See the grizzly? 

We continued on our way, happy and content that this would be a bear observation rather than an encounter. We made it to the camping area at Canada Creek in just under 8 hours. Like in Tombstone I was a little under-fueled in the last hour or so of the hike - which also happened to be the part of the trail with some steep ups and downs, even though they are not that sustained - and ended up hauling out the last piece of tastiest salami EVER from my bear canister. I needed that!
The many parts of Canada Creek heading into Slim's River.
We set up camp in the open area by one of the
Our tent fit the vast landscape well.
many arms of Canada Creek. Four other tents were there belonging to three separate groups. One group was hanging out at camp. Two other pairs were still out at Observation Mountain. We met up with each later in the evening to hear about their fairly epic 10-, 11-hour days of route finding, impressive creek crossings, awesome views and generally exhilarating hiking. One had gone fast and light, the other carried overnight gear just in case. All were elated.

Glaciers above the toe of Kaskawulsh glacier.
We decided that if we were to head up Observation Mountain, we would want to get an early start so we could avoid the very high water crossings both of them described. As it turned out, sleeping in was the order of the next day and we spent a few hours exploring the Canada Creek area below Observation Mountain toward the Kaskawulsh glacier.

In the afternoon we met up with three new arrivals at camp. They had had a whole different kind of encounter with two juvenile grizzlies over about four hours and were ready to relax and take it easy. We decided to hike out together the next day, as there is considerable safety in numbers. We enjoyed campfire chats with Colleen, Tom and Danielle. As it turned out Colleen and I had met before through my work in the performing arts! It was surreal and fun when we both realized that we were having a quintessential"small world" moment in the Yukon wilderness.

This is what wind looks like.
Foot of Observation Mountain.
The hike out the next day was uneventful, despite the occasional route finding challenge along sections of the high trail. Jan showed us all the perfect spot for crossing back over Bullion Creek and we said our good byes that evening at the trail head. We drove to Haines Junction where we camped at Pine Lake, after enjoying a well-earned meal at Frosty's. The next morning, we headed for breakfast and then to the Da Ku Cultural Centre. Then we returned to our Whitehorse "base camper" to see our dear friend Michele, her sons and the dogs for an awesome weekend of memorable meals, meeting lovely dinner guests, beautiful Okanagan wine and fruit, walking with the dogs, and all manner of stories and music.
I made fire ... which was easy to do with the tinder-dry wood
and constant wind.

This was our last weekend. I found leaving hard. Both the unique geography of this place and an indelible sense of an expanded family have been imprinted on my soul. I think it may be the closest to home I have ever felt.