Thursday, May 31, 2007

Dumpling

Brooks River is a short corridor between two vast lakes, Naknek and Brooks. Of these two glacial-fed bodies of water, Lake Brooks has the higher elevation and thus drains down Brooks River into Naknek Lake, the totality of this water eventually ending up in Bristol Bay via the Naknek River. Brooks Camp, where I am presently writing, is situated at the mouth of Brooks River along the shore of Naknek Lake. Gazing down on this hydrodynamic drama and the surrounding wilderness is Mt. Dumpling, a (relatively) short mountain next to our camp.

I hiked Dumpling this evening after work. It is hard to describe the feeling that comes from walking along the top ridge of a mountain. As you walk, the scenery of the land below passes movielike on either side, as if you had all of a sudden found yourself in the midst of a Lord of the Rings film. But the pristine lakes that stretch for miles in every direction are real. The vast forests of spruce and newly blooming birch, close enough to you as they begin their descent down the mountainside to pick out individual needles but blurring into an endless green mass by the time they reach the lake shore, are real. The snow covered mountains that you now stand eye to eye with, some well over 30 miles away but seemingly near-at-hand, are real. You suddenly and keenly pick up on the scent and feeling of the air; it seems to both separate and connect you with all that is below and away. You become acutely aware of the previously unnoticed soundscape -- the whistle of the wind, the crashing of the waves far below, the calls of nesting birds. It all feels so right, like you belong and have always belonged on this lofty perch.

Why is it that we are drawn to nature in this way? Does it give us some kind of inner peace? Peaceful would hardly be the way to describe my mood as I stood on that mountain. I felt restless and alive; the wilderness below me seemed to be pulling at me. I wanted to plunge into those dark forests to see what new sounds and smells awaited, I wanted reach those distant mountains and climb them and look back on the one I was then standing on, I wanted to ride those waters out to the sea. My thoughts were as turbulent as the windswept lakes below me. I don't know what this means, but I know nature is something more than a quiet, solitudinous respite from our tedious lives, and it is hardly ever peaceful.

I have hiked Dumpling previously and I had been waiting to post this entry until I could get my film developed and share with you some of the wondrous views, both from Dumpling and the beach our camp is on. Many thanks to Steve G for getting my pictures up on the internet but as it turns out the film I used was going bad. I am going to go ahead and post these grainy shots for now; I know they are close to worthless but check it out anyway and I will retake them and get some real ones up soon. Tomorrow or the next day I will put up a post about my hike to The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, the site of the 20th century's largest volcanic eruption. For now, enjoy the view from my office:

Naknek Lake is in the foreground. On the right is Mt. Katolinat, seen up close here:


Turn to the right and you have the beach of Naknek Lake:


See Mt. Kelez in the background? Now you do:

The above pictures were all taken from right out in front of camp on the beach of Naknek Lake. For some perspective, here is Katolinat and Naknek Lake from nearby Mt. Dumpling:


That's Renae in the foreground. Wish her luck; right now she is tent camping in the backcountry taking genetic samples of fish. Right next to her elbow is where Brooks River feeds into Naknek Lake and the site of our camp:

You can see the tiny structures of our camp in the clearing below the mouth of the river. If you could zoom out and follow that river to the right, you would see where it flows from Lake Brooks:


That's Kelez again, and although you can't see it the famous Brooks Falls are located in one of the foremost turns of the river. Camp and Lake Naknek would be just to the left (see above). The body of water here is Lake Brooks, where I have had some luck fishing for Rainbow Trout. Until later,





14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I wish I was there. I can't wait to hear about your backpacking trip. You write so that it feels like I'm there with you. Maybe a new line of study when you return?
Love ya, Dad

Anonymous said...

Mason--I really enjoyed reading your latest post. The pictures and descriptions gave me a real sense of where you are and reminded me of the time I spent in Petersburg. Keep up the writing--you seem to have a real gift for this type of writing in particular.
Hope you get some fresh food sometime soon!
peace,
MacKay

Anonymous said...

Mason you are my hero!

Reid said...

I'm glad you're out there meditating, practicing yoga or whatever-the-hell you hippies do, but when are we gonna see a 'Mason Wrestles Tontor, King of Bears' pic?!?

Jokes aside it is great that you're out there seeing the world from new lenses. Rarely do people take the time to get out of their 'comfort zone' and see life head-on the way you are now. Enjoy it, but I want a beer-coozie in the shape of a grizzly paw when you get back...

Chris

Mason said...

Hey boy, I might be a hippie but you haven't even seen a tree in god knows how many days. The lodge opened tonight, that means I had my first beer in two weeks, so if there was a bear koozie available I would have bought you one.

I don't know who "anonymous" is but apparently I am their hero. I don't blame them, I am pretty damn cool.

Anonymous said...

Mason, the depth and insight of this post shows the creativity and perception that you have always had. We both knew it was there and it makes me pleased and proud to see you put it to use in such a meaningful way. I have had the sensations that you describe but never understood them in the context you define. Your words give them meaning in a way I have never considered. You are AWESOME!! Mom

Anonymous said...

Mason, the depth and insight of this post shows the creativity and perception that you have always had. We both knew it was there and it makes me pleased and proud to see you put it to use in such a meaningful way. I have had the sensations that you describe but never understood them in the context you define. Your words give them meaning in a way I have never considered. You are AWESOME!! Mom

Anonymous said...

Mase, love the new picture. Who ever thought you would be a fisherman? The FSU shirt is a nice touch. Do I need to send a razor in your next package? Soon you will be known as Wild-Man Redbeard. It really does look good - like a real outdoorsman. Love,
Mom

Anonymous said...

Mason are you a mountain man now? Nice facial fuzz! That was Zack who said "you are my hero" he forgot to write his name. Have fun. See ya!

Lindsay

Mason said...

Apparently if youre in Alaska and youre a guy, you have to grow a beard. There are only a couple guys I work with who don't have one. Tell Zack those pictures sucked and wait till I get some real ones up there.

Mason said...

Mr. MacKay - actually fresh food isn't so much of a problem right now being that the Naknek Drainage is one of the rainbow trout capitals of the world. Only problem is I can't keep them after the 8th, but I do have seven in my freezer right now, that should be enough to last until the salmon start running. Thanks for reading.

Drew said...

whoa... had to get a little water before i choked on that dry entry. hahah no, but seriously you could be a little spicier and more personable...its an effing blog for spampa's sake. "I am presently writing from..." my diary from 1792/ yeah so that picture of you is funny...good times. hope yer getting yer FG on. Peace, Drew

PS> you are no hippie. u wish phish head :) haha

Anonymous said...

MASON - THE PICTURES ARE GREAT, WHAT BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY! I AGREE WITH UNCLE STEVE, A NEW LINE OF STUDY WHEN YOU RETURN. YOUR WRITING IS A PLEASURE TO READ. I'VE SHARED YOUR BLOGS WITH FRIENDS AND THEY SEND MANY COMPLIMENTS. CHELLE

P.S. NO RAZOR AUNT SUE, I LOVE THE BEARD

Anonymous said...

Hey boy I just talked to you dad and he tells me your a Hero. From your writtings and the pictures it is beautifull up there.Well catch u when you decide to come back and get a real job. Ron Allen