Tag Archive 'mortality'

Jan 05 2023

Profile Image of Walt

A Sense of Perspective

Filed under Blog Post

Yesterday I walked up one of my favorite brooks in the Green Mountains. No snow and temps in the high 30s. That’s rare for this time of year. How could I resist?

I went back as far as an old campsite where the ashes of my two dogs, Jesse and Matika, are buried. I cleaned off the simple stones marking their graves and talked to them for a while. Then I looked around, telling them with a great big sigh that I’d be joining them soon enough.

This year or the next, ten years from now, twenty, or more — my day will come. It’s just a matter of time. Life doesn’t last long. Not really.

I propped a foam pad against a nearby birch overlooking the stream and jotted a few thoughts in my field journal while eating lunch. The surrounding forest was misty and still. A few dried leaves clinging to the branches of a beech sapling quaked in a barely discernible breeze. The brook full of snowmelt roared loudly as it raced downhill. I thought about the many times I’ve been in this spot, overnight or only for an hour or so like now. I quickly lost track. Too many years have gone by.

I glanced at the small overhang in a large boulder just a few feet away and resolved to spend a night under it someday, just for the hell of it. That would be wild. Then I gave that boulder a long hard look, wondering how long it has been here. Probably since the last Ice Age. And when my ashes are in the ground, along with my dogs, that boulder will still be here.

That boulder will still be here thousands of years from now. The landscape around it will change, but that boulder will remain largely unchanged until the roots of the vegetation on top of it break it down, along with the elements. That’ll take a while. I’ll be long gone by the time that boulder is dust. Hmm… While considering that, I packed up my things and walked away.

Comments Off on A Sense of Perspective

Feb 17 2021

Profile Image of Walt

Cohos Trail Book Now in Print

Filed under Blog Post

For years I had wanted to venture north of the White Mountains, into what is sometimes called The Great North Woods. This finger of New Hampshire jutting into Quebec doesn’t look like much on a map, but it’s country as wild as northern Maine. So imagine my delight when I learned that a relatively new hiking route is being blazed there. It’s called the Cohos Trail.

A patchwork of old woods roads, ATM and snowmobile trails, and local trails all tied together by brand new links, the Cohos Trail is something else. Starting in the Whites, it soon ventures into a remote, sprawling forest where people are few and moose thrive. This trail system is so new that sections of it are still road walks. But in June of 2019, I hiked the wild heart of it. Then I wrote this book.

The Consolation of Wildness is more than just another backpacking narrative. A few months before doing this hike, my canine companion Matika died. Then my mother died. On top of that, my 63-year-old body gave me some unexpected trouble during the excursion. So this narrative is infused with meditations on mortality, death and dying. The confusing mix of emotions that I experienced, ranging from wild ecstasy to undiluted grief, was a real roller coaster ride. Consequently, this tale is different from anything I’ve written before.

This book is now for sale at the Wood Thrush Books website. You can also find it at Amazon.com, of course. If you read it, let me know what you think.

One response so far