Thursday, June 09, 2011

Mt. Fairweather Serendipity

 I finally got this month's book club book yesterday at the library and was determined to read as much as I could on the plane.  So I had just taken the picture below when I got to page 38.

Lynn Schooler, Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart, page 38:

Through binoculars I could see the tops of trees rising from beyond the surf.  The scene was identical to one Captain James Cook had noted while exploring this coast 230 years earlier, on a clear, fine day in May of 1778, as HMS Resolution and its sister ship Discovery crawled north in light winds over a rolling, glassy sea.  Cook, writing in the staid clear language preferred by the British Admiralty, recorded that the snow, from the highest summits down to the sea coast, some few places excepted where we could perceive trees, as it were, rising their heads out of the sea."

It was such a fine, almost balmy day that Cook was inspired to name the towering mountain behind the next headland he came to Mount Fair Weather.  In choosing to commemorate the weather that allowd him to see the 15,000 foot peak from miles away, Cook was unknowingly acknowledging something the Tlingit Indians had known for centures:  When Na goot Ku, a friendly birdlike spirit that lives on Fearweather's summit, lifts the clouds enough for "the paddlers mountain" to be visible, the weather will be calm enough to travel at sea by dougout canoe.

Now, I'm not 100% that's Mt. Fairweather.  Perhaps I was seeing what I wanted to see - a very human way of knowing things,  and obviously the weather wasn't that fair at sealevel. But we'd already passed what I took to be Mt. Sanford, so there is a good chance. We were a little more than an hour out of Anchorage.

I think this is Mt. Sanford

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