Sunday, December 27, 2015

Moon Mountains

The Past is entombed in the Present! The world is its own enduring monument; and that which is true of its physical, is likewise true of its mental career. The discoveries of Psychometry will enable us to explore the history of man, as those of geology enable us to explore the history of the earth. There are mental fossils for psychologists as well as mineral fossils for the geologists; and I believe that hereafter the psychologist and the geologist will go hand in hand — the one portraying the earth, its animals and its vegetation, while the other portrays the human beings who have roamed over its surface in the shadows, and the darkness of primeval barbarism! Aye, the mental telescope is now discovered which may pierce the depths of the past and bring us in full view of the grand and tragic passages of ancient history.    —Joseph Rodes Buchanan, 1893
Skin Folded Badly Rock

       Many years ago, at a big camp full of wildland fire-fighters on the Kuskokwim River, a woman from Delta Junction, the same one who had been harassing me the whole silly fire (it had gone out) since her own crew had booted her out for lascivious behavior, handed me her big knife to cut away some plastic.
       Not a flash in the brain. Not a film cut to a stabbing. Only a very strong suggestion, the moment I grasped her handle in my hand. I've been in a few knife fights, the knife seemed to say, even killed a man. It was the knife talking, I tell you, the knife itself!
       As I looked up, I saw the dirt-streaked, brown-haired, "eff-ho" firefighter watching me. Her over jetting teeth broke apart into a sharp, evil grin, her expression revealing more mischief and knowing than I had ever witnessed before in my youthful life, and she nodded her head very slowly and wickedly, as her eyes flicked deliberately and distinctly back to the knife. She knew that I had sensed the story in the knife. The psychometry was real.
       A similar psychometry happened to me at the big tor near the Moon Mountains this previous August, more of a geo-pyschometry, in this case. It was the rock itself told me this story.  I stood at the eastern base of the alpha tor of the the group under a vacated eagle's nest, on a mat of tundra that crackled underfoot with the bones of slaughtered beasts.    
       My brain, as usual, was crackling with scattered and random impulses. Some of these impulses belonged to larger agglomerations of various complicated neural processes, vis a vis, the construction and projection of my reality based on my senses and memory. One of these thought projections seemed to stand out, almost in the way of a sensation, a luminescence, a bright phosphene. The details I supply in the following account are totally imaginary.

 "Tell him we meet in three days."
       "Where shall we meet?"       
       “We shall meet at the group of rocks where we met before,  the time the sounds of the cranes"

       “At the rock that is folded like a skin that has been packed badly?”
       "Yes, at the rock that is folded like a skin that has been packed badly."
        "In three days?"
       "In three days."

       "But when Ayaluq arrived three days later, he found Paniq-Paniq sleeping in the sun, reclined against the Rock That Is Folded Like A Skin Packed Badly  Instead of waking Paniq-Paniq to discuss the current state of the known extent of the world in the gray area between the North-of-the-Kigs people and the South-of-the-Kigs people, as the two men had planned, Ayaluq chose instead to sneak up on Paniq-Paniq from the other side of the  Rock That Is Folded Like A Skin Packed Badly and "accidentally"crush him to death from above with a cave-in of loose boulders. 

        Paniq-Paniq had been having a dream. In the dream, he heard echoes of men's voices against the Rock That Is Folded Like A Skin Packed Badly. Squinting into bright light, he saw men with ropes that were colored brightly, and wondrous snap-links that worked so efficiently Paniq-Paniq knew he must be dreaming. What the hell were they doing, anyway? But then something moved, something moving in the landscape, sudden movement, and then nothing.

     "Ayaluq often felt his evil deed brought him bad luck as the years went by. Once he had been the alpha hunter, a man of authority and respect. But age had brought injuries, and a general malaise, and nobody had ever liked him much anyway since he was a bully and psychopath. They found him one day, out in the wind by the Rock That Is Folded Like A Skin Packed Badly."

        David Panepinto and I were the voices in the dying man's dream. Our goal, in late August of 2015, had been to reach the Mountains of the Moon, but our hike fell a few miles short— "Can't Climb Because Of Too Much Climbing Gear" syndrome slowed us down. To justify the heavy climbing junk that had already prevented us from reaching the actual Moon Mountains, we unfurled the ropes at a group of rocks I had tor-bagged  with Jeff Collins a few years before, the "Cranestocks," for lack of their true, Wolley Lagoon name. It was there, at the Cranestocks, the geo-psychometry took place.
This map is so messed up. I'm not sure where we hiked. A better map can be found here: Moon Mountains 2017
       The Cranestock choss felt so dire at every step, I cowered on easy moves. The summit of the highest tor, "Poorly Packed Skin Rock," was a balanced block so fragile I dared not go near the only quality cracks on the formation.  I led up the 5.3 north side and we top-roped 5.7 stuff on the south side.  Only a desperate fiend would ever consider hiking so far over tussocks and swamp to climb on such paltry, chossified, meta-sedimentary feces. David, on his first roped climb, coped with the madness calmly, as he also had the day before when we smacked bang into his first Grizzlies, a mother and two cubs, on the hike in. 

       After two days, we tried to leave the region. As if an alien were manipulating our minds with a psychic anesthetic, FOG pumped into our view, replacing the world pixel by pixel with WHITESPACE in a short order of time.  Once again, as in  the previous post from July, I found myself somehow "within" no-thing, except this time David and I chased the Heffalump four times as far, hours through the night, until our bodies tired, and our dreams of Nome turned to white also as we bivvied between wet folds of tent that had to be peeled apart like adhesive strips. I had tried to steer the ship on the compass heading we had set before the fog virus depixellated our display, except that the damn coast runs northwest by southeast in that region of the peninsula instead of east by west like I am used to, and I ran us miles too far to the east, confidently declaring Livingstone Creek to be Feather River, when really I had no idea until the chill of morning would cause the roof to drop, revealing the sad fact we were within a quarter mile of the road during the entire epic.

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