April 14, 2015 “Passages to One’s Future and Past”

ptarmigan

I haven’t wrote a non-birding blog post for a while.  It isn’t that I haven’t been thinking about things, I have, but been busy writing novels and hard to flip over to blog writing as I get immersed in the characters

I couldn’t sleep well the last few days, my wife was in Portland visiting family and I was minding the house.  Initially I thought it was due to the horror Novel I finished writing called The Collective, but I don’t know. I got up this morning and watched two powerful movies probably movies you’ve all probably never heard of, both in my all time top 20 list.

The first, “The Way” with Martin Sheen being the marquis actor, that talks about a man and companions on a spiritual hike through the Spanish mountains

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1441912/

The second, “Rare Birds” with William Hurt and the incredibly sexy Molly Parker, about a man an a life quest to move away from a busted marriage and start a new life in Newfoundland.  It is the best birding movie of all time, and quirky enough that it isn’t too dark.  Living on the Rock as it is called can be dark, like Icelanders and Scandinavians.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0295552/

Both make me very introspective about where I am in my personal journey and where I am going.  I could actually watch the Way and just get morose for a week, it is that moving because in some ways it hits home for me.

Now if you have read my book, Boobies, Peckers, and Tits, I make a few illusions to my honeymoon and previous trips into the mountains. I even bring in a scene in my Novel No Peace in Exile about an experience I had in Montana, but like The Way, I had a spiritual hiking journey in 1989, this one was a hike with 3 guys from Med School from Many Glacier up the trial to the north and then we climbed up the Ptarmigan Wall and passed through the Ptarmigan Tunnel

Ptarmigan_tunnel2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up at 7200 feet the tunnel was hewn in 1930 and is 250 feet long.  On the south face of the wall, it is dry and wind swept and on the north, it is an expanse of green which is the pictured view is the lead picture of this blog which shows Elizabeth Lake, the best spot to catch Arctic Grayling in the lower 48 states. The view is in the top ten of my life, and understand I hate heights.

Now, I was 23 back then, I had survived death at aged 15, graduated as a geeky kid from College, had become a research dynamo as an undergraduate, but in my opinion had nothing going for me other than my medical school position.  I was alone and I knew it and on the road to nowhere, it wasn’t high, it wasn’t anything.  I had to lie basically to get these three to go with me (my goal was fishing and didn’t think it was safe to go alone) and the lie was that the 14 mile hike was only 4, and wasn’t strenuous, and I was experienced out there, yes, I had hiked a mile from Many Glacier in 1986 with my parents when they were taking a nap and caught a trout, and not even up this trail, pretty thin on experience.  I think at the shop at the visitor center when I bought a sleeping bag may have given me away.

Sorry Gene, Brad, and Marc…….

But what happened was something odd.  I passed through that tunnel a boy and I came out a man………my life forever changed up on that mountain.  Now many of you have heard the rest of the story–we camped the first night on the north end of that lake under Chief Mountain which it turns out is a vision quest spot for medicine men and we all got haunted by nightmares, every one involving our future life-partners, in one case he hadn’t met the woman yet but ‘saw’ her in the visions, and I had met Sarah, but we hadn’t much more than studied anatomy together….no, not that anatomy, she was Gene’s cadaver partner, my roommate.

We ended up being tortured by things we couldn’t comprehend, in my case a bear officiating at my wedding to Sarah, and when I disagreed he broke bones.  If you think I’m bullshitting you here is the Wikipedia sterilized version of where we were, copied exactly:

Chief Mountain remains sacred to many First Nations peoples from both the US and Canada. Natives from all over North America travel to the base of the mountain for sweet grass ceremonies, placing of prayer flags and other religious rites. In the early 1900s as white settlers came to the area, they observed native burial sites scattered along the base of the mountain. Elders from Southern Alberta’s Siksika Band (where the Great Chief Crowfoot hailed from) and other First Nation groups have an oral tradition that near the end of days, a Great White God would appear from the top of Chief Mountain and upon his departure, the mountain would crumble and be destroyed.

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We spent the day cleaning up and burning many of the flags mistaking it for litter.  I have heard tell things that have happened to people under that mountain at campfires thousands of miles from that mountain that would make your toenails curl…..again, if I had been “experienced” and did any research, I would have known and understood why it was the only open campsite in that valley.

After Marc’s vision finished we took off, Gene to Arizona to find his girlfriend and all the of us back to the Midwest to find the women we would all end up loving ….our lives were forever changed.  My nasty Bear visions didn’t stop with marriage, I had to go back to the same spot on our honeymoon in 1990, a year later and then the first night the bear walked away warning me to not f’ it up or he’d be back and we moved to a second campsite.

We did go back in 1992, but I haven’t been anywhere near Glacier since.

Now we’ve been married 25 years this July.  What does a guy do now for 25th wedding anniversaries, or it IS just a day?  I’ve been thinking we should go back to the Tunnel, but in my book, BPT I write that the past is PAST, and you cant go back and the memories I had from an experience in Wyoming in my book, were sort of screwed up by me going back to a place that had changed.   Maybe I should just leave this trail in my mind and memories?

Maybe if we walk through that tunnel again, it will signify another passage into somewhere on my life’s journey?

I don’t think the bear will come back unless we either stay under Chief Mountain or we split up and neither appear likely in my opinion.

Sarah, well, she hasn’t said too much about any of this.  I don’t know what she is thinking and I don’t think she ever believed our bear stories….IDK, my deepest fear in 1989 was going through life alone and well I haven’t been alone since I returned.  I don’t know what her biggest fear was, If I ever asked, she didn’t tell or maybe I just didn’t hear.  Maybe we need to go back for her.

Olaf may be the most interesting man in the world, but I also am searching for the answers to life’s questions, maybe you have some perspectives?

Olaf

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