Five friends made that trip across the muskegs with me, have rent the veil of alder leaving behind the known and sown town for the wet and wild muskeg. When first initiated into the mystery of the muskeg walk I took the precaution, similar to Theseus of marking my way. Rather than a spool of thread I hung light green flagging. Like all converts I followed the flags religiously. Which came in handy when I dropped my cellphone! Upon reaching the mundane world a young friend with her cellphone agreed to help look for mine. Like Orpheus on the bow of the Argo she sang or rather her cellphone called and kept calling until we heard the sire song of mine. Praise God, it fell on a clump of dry grass just as I started across.
Years passed. She grew into a lovely young woman married to a handsome young man. He wanted to pass the test. She laughed as the initiated always do at the novice. The light green flagging long before blew away in the breeze or got browsed by the curious deer. But by carefully following in my footsteps he failed to take a misstep. He appeared appropriately awed when instructed to turn and look at the view half way across. Same when we climbed to the Bypass Road to the world above.
The city-boys installed a porch-swing here. (Don’t ask!) We sat there a while. He seemed content to overlook the view in company with Lindenberg, Kupreanof and Petersburg Mountains. He seemed pensive as we reentered the civilized world at Hungerford Hill and cheerful on the bicycle path. At work I introduced him around. People assumed he was just another seasonal employee they’d never see again after three months. When introduced as a family friend though they jumped up and shook his hand properly. He passed the test.
Time passed. Friends began to retire. One who went on ahead wanted to join me in my morning ritual. He joined the other fair-weather walkers on the Bypass Road generally meet at the top of the muskegs and walking back to the truck at Hungerford Hill. All the while telling “boring old stories of glory days”, sharing ancient lies, reliving our misspent youth, enjoying our vain regrets and pondering our missed opportunities. We felt like new men when he dropped me at work.
Time passed. I retired and retired my long held morning rituals for new ones and new friends. But my new friend wanted to try it. The veil of alders still marked the known from the unknown. But the tall grass covering the small creek at the start hid the path once so well trod by my Xtratufs. Little trees, once regularly pruned were big tress blocking the game trails. The muskeg had heaved, rolled and fallen, rerouting the water. The secret stream half way across no longer sang her song. The Bypass Creek crossing was too overgrown to use. It truly was unknown.
Author - William Moulton