The first time I hunted deer alone in Southeast Alaska, my friend drew me a map leading to a stand of old-growth trees in a river valley. I set off at a trot on a sunny November morning, following a trail along Indian River, which ran heavy with fall rains. I cut through a copse of alders, squished through a muskeg, and ducked into a scrub of salmonberry and devil’s club, the rifle barrel snagging on the thorned branches. I emerged on the other side into a fairy tale world of 600-1000 year-old western hemlocks and Sitka spruce – a cathedral of trees rising from a thick, moss-covered forest floor.
I remember slowing my pace, running a palm over the bark, the spruce-like potato chips, and the hemlocks like strips of bacon. Hunkering down beside a spread of winter chanterelle mushrooms, which I nibbled before falling asleep, like Dorothy in her field of poppies. Read more.