Posts Tagged ‘Eskimo’

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 2

February 4th, 2016

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from Blog Post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 1.”)

Part Two: Kelsey Bay, British Columbia to Ketchikan, Alaska

Ridge of Wonder Pass Peak, Mt Assiniboine Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada, 1995 by Philip Hyde.

June 20:  The Canadian ferry at Kelsey Bay depends on tides for its arrival and departure times. When we arrived at the dock under a heavy gray sky around 9:30 am, the ferry called the Queen of Prince Rupert was just unloading cars. We pulled into the parking lane to wait. They measured our rig. Including the Avion Camper and Utility body 1968 GMC Pickup, we measured 21 feet in length. They let us drive on at about 12:50 pm. The car deck is arranged for two stacks of cars on the outer edges. Campers, motor homes and small trucks park in the center lanes. We watched the closing of the car deck drawbridge, then climbed the stairs to the upper deck to see the bow lowered into place for the voyage. Next we went to our stateroom. David was glowing over “my own top deck.” He climbed up for a nap. Philip and I also had a brief nap on the bottom bunk. The dimensions of the stateroom precluded any possibility of sleeping on the floor, which we would prefer over a soft, sagging bed. The wash basin and seat reduced the area available.

When David woke up we went out on deck. The sky was full of clouds, but they were pretty ones. The air was mild, but we needed to be bundled up when walking the bow deck due to wind. We were excited to see numerous schools of killer whales, cavorting and spraying, emerging with high dorsal fins showing. We went in to dinner at 6 pm. The food was very ordinary but the service was good. The notable feature of this passage is the closeness to islands all the time. The islands are wooded with bare gray rock bases up to the high tide line. We finally got away from logging evidence but logs still occasionally floated by. We headed away from Vancouver Island during dinner and into the open ocean. Experienced a slight choppiness at times, but the whole voyage was generally smooth. Philip went out to the camper for the night to have more sleeping room. He said it was 70 degrees and too warm. Our stateroom was well ventilated. David and I slept well.

June 21, Monday:  Over an ordinary breakfast, we visited with a young couple from Toronto. They were headed back to Toronto by way of the Prince George Highway. Before breakfast we had the experience of searching for David. We had left him in the stateroom to go to the car deck. He had gone down a stairway, made a few turns and couldn’t find his way back. We retrieved him via the purser, who called the room to tell us David was at his office. We went out on deck after breakfast: rain and a low ceiling. We were close to shore and coming into Prince Rupert. We were the first ones off the ferry after the big bus at 9:15 am. First we drove to the local museum, then out to a view point overlooking a tidal rapid, Butze Rapids Park. Dreary and rainy all day. Lunch and naps. On out to Prince Edwards to the pulp mill. Stopped for pics. Small fishing port, nets drying on dock racks. Back into town and down to the ferry dock. Still early but many cars already parked in line up. I baked cornbread for dinner. Rain began in earnest and continued hard all night. Drove to get gas and oil supply in town and then back to parking area for the night.

June 22:  Philip woke up at 5:20 am, dressed and went to inquire about lining up for Customs. Turned out to be very routine. We passed onto the ferry Wickersham promptly. It was immediately apparent the difference in the way the two ferry systems operate. The Canadian ferry was immaculate, run with great efficiency and good service. The Alaska lines ferries were just the opposite. We settle down for the five and one half hour passage to Ketchikan, Alaska. David was occupied with Sesame Street Magazine until noon. We tried the cafeteria which was very poor, ugh. Weather continued wet with low clouds. Only a slight inkling of the high mountains along the inside passage. We were never away from the sight of land. We pass large and small islands and the passageway widens and narrows as we progress. At Ketchikan harbor the water had frequent jelly fish near the surface, pale orange and round.

The ferry Taku was at the dock when we arrived. As it pulled out we pulled in broadside to the dock with the exit door on the side. We were among the first to leave and drove onto Tongass Avenue. After getting our bearings and local information we drove right out to Saxman Village to see the Cape Fox Indian Dancers. They perform when a cruise ship comes in like the one this time called the Halia. We got there for the last two dances. Donations were asked for and we were appalled to hear that only $8.00 was collected from three bus loads of tourists. I bought souvenir leather doll pins. Next we spent some time at the adjacent Totem Park. A light rain fell but Philip took pictures anyway. In the yard of the Pentecostal Church across the street native forget-me-nots, Bachelor Button and wild roses grew in lush profusion.

We continued along South Tongass Avenue to the point where two islands just off shore caught our attention and stopped us. They were so like those we have seen in photographs of the Inland Sea of Japan, up-tilted strata, moss, bonsai conifers topping them. It was low tide so we could walk onto the smaller one. We broke out all of our rain gear. Philip photographed under the umbrella I held for him. David had a marvelous time exploring the tidal zone, pretending he was an Eskimo harpooner after whales, seals, dolphins, walruses, etc. On our way back he invited us into his house, a beautiful shelter provided by a huge overturned tree, the roots in a beautiful cross-work pattern overhead. Indeed, we entered a little room. He had found a piece of plywood drift, placed two rocks on it and offered us coffee. “The best coffee I’ve had,” Philip said. Literally and figuratively it was, our most hospitable moment so far.

We drove on out the road past the end of the pavement at eight miles. Beyond that we stopped for a photograph of a bald eagle perched on a snag. He was immature and wouldn’t fly away even when Philip moved close in. Soon we stopped at a wide pull off for the night and went to bed exhausted right after dinner. The drying line hung full of wet clothes. It poured hard outside as we fell asleep to the low roar of a roadside waterfall.

June 23:  It rained hard all night. We arose at 7 am to find…

CONTINUED IN THE BLOG POST, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 3.”

Originally posted April 7, 2010 6:22 am

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 12

May 24th, 2011

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 11.”)

Part Twelve: Layover Juneau, Alaska At the Mendenhall Campground

Mt. Brooks, Cotton Grass, Shore Of Wonder Lake, Alaska Range, Denali National Park, Alaska, copyright 1971 by Philip Hyde.

Tuesday, July 6, 1971: We showered and cleaned up our gear after breakfast. The Slickrock text proofs arrived in the mail when we picked it up at the Juneau post office. Philip packaged film for mailing. Later he unloaded and reloaded film in the afternoon while David and I explored the Alaska State Museum again. Docent Bonnie Koenig, an Eskimo and Athabaskan Native American explained the displays. We also saw the flower slide shows. Then we walked up town to buy the Heller Alaska flower book. We stopped in at Skip Wallen’s Kayak Gallery to admire his lithographs. Painter Rie Munoz was also there. He’s an artist who works for the museum as well as making bright yarn belts and water color paintings of Eskimo scenes. Next we rejoined Philip in the camper where he had finished his film loading chore. We walked over to the dock area for dinner. Afterward Philip emptied the septic tank. We drove out to Glacier Village and the laundromat for a big wash while Philip put David to bed. We finished other errands and correspondence. Then we drove out to the same Mendenhall Glacier campground for the night.

Wednesday, July 7, 1971:  We visited Sandy Beach on Douglas Island after breakfast. We traveled directly north on the Mendenhall Loop Road and then on to the main road to the end at mile 33. It was a beautiful, clear, sunny day—the second in a row. Philip made frequent stops for photographs. We also stopped at the Auke Bay post office to get more mail out.  We drove around the Lena Loop Road and were impressed with the lovely view from the Lena Beach picnic area overlooking Lena Cove. What a spot to have spent the night if we had known. We turned out at various viewpoints as the Chilkat Mountains were showing up impressively in a long snow façade. We drove down to St. Terese road, walked out across the causeway to the connected island Church hardly visible amongst trees. We became absorbed in the beautiful tilted rock base of the island, much exposed at low tide and surrounded by bird life: gulls, harlequin ducks and the noisiest crows. The din from them continued constantly as the parents were still feeding many of the young. Philip made many 2 ¼ photographs of the rocks and lichen. David had the old kaput Hasselblad body that Philip gave him. He also had his defunct reflex camera turned with the viewer out so it looked like a long lens. He was very busy “taking pictures” of the birds, us, wildflower gardens and so on.  Heading back out the road looking for a lunch spot, we came to some boggy areas that were covered with carpets of Alaska Cotton Grass. We pulled into a side dirt track and parked. Interspersed on the carpet of Alaska Cotton Grass were Rein Orchis, various small blue flowers and lupine. Also growing out of the Cotton Grass carpet, were young spruce trees heavily festooned with moss. While Philip unpacked the 4X5 view camera for this occasion, we all put on our rubber boots to walk around in the wet bog. I cut a bouquet of the Cotton Grass to take home. After lunch we forged on to the road end. Queen Anne’s Lace and Goat’s Beard beautified the roadsides. On the way back we stopped briefly for photographs of fireweed growing on a rock ledge and a short look at the Eagle Beach picnic area. Philip photographed gulls with his 35 mm camera. We didn’t make it to the prettier part of the area, but continued on to Fritz Cove Road completing the loop around it. We hurried into Juneau to send mail from the post office for the last time. We parked where we could walk up to the little Russian church and shops on Seward Street after closing time. We tried to have the GMC lubed, but the hoist was not big enough to raise the truck along with the camper. We rambled on out to the Sandy Beach Recreation Area for the night. Philip tried to send a wire to John Mitchell in New York, but found there was a five week old Western Union strike under way. We learned yesterday that Grandmother Oliver died in her sleep. I told David today. His first reaction was to say sadly, “She gave me some candy.” Later he said, “I’m sure glad I got to see great grandmother Oliver.” Still later he asked, “Are they going to burn her?”

Continued in the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 13.”

Toward a Sense of Place By Philip Hyde 2

January 20th, 2010

(CONTINUED FROM BLOG POST, “Toward a Sense of Place 1“)

Anasazi Big Horn Sheep Petroglyphs, Monument Valley, Utah-Arizona, 1963, by Philip Hyde. From Navajo Wildlands.

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

By Philip Hyde

From Navajo Wildlands: As Long As The Rivers Shall Run

Sierra Club—Ballantine Books 1967

*Note: Beware of using this as a travel guide. The areas where people are allowed and the approaches to them may have changed since 1965. Also, the politically correct term for the native people now is their own word, “Dineh,” in its various spellings, rather than the Spanish word in common practice then, “Navajo.”

Toward A Sense of Place (Continued)

In the Spring of 1965, when heavy runoff in the canyons kept even the Park Service vehicles out, many of the Navajo men walked into the canyons to start their spring plowing and planting. There are more horse-drawn wagons in the Canyon de Chelly region than almost anywhere else, with good reason—they still rely on dependable foot power in traveling the canyon bottoms.

The best way really to feel the country is to visit it in many seasons and to know something about it beforehand. In a region where so much geology is laid bare, a smattering of geology is illuminating, and of prehistory, for the evidences of ancient occupation a searching eye will discover. The petroglyphs and pictographs fascinate me. We were delighted by the humor in a petroglyph some eight centuries old—with its wonderful incised figures of Kokopeli, lying on his back with one knee up, playing the flute. Some of the pictographs in Canyon de Chelly are sheer drama. The Ute Fight Mural, a Navajo charcoal drawing of about a hundred years ago, portrays a battle between Navajos and Utes. A short distance farther up the same canyon is a drawing depicting the coming of Spaniards on horseback.

The pictographers knew with assurance what they wanted to record. My own processes in deciding what a photographer should report were less sure. I started out with several ideas, rejected them, and reluctantly concluded that I should emphasize the land, not the people. I had read more about the country, been exposed more to it. I found the Navajos fascinating and beautiful. They fit their land far better than whites fit theirs. Yet, I felt that emphasis on the people would preclude the sense of place, a sense that I think the Navajos themselves feel strongly.

They also value highly their personal privacy. One can try to make grab shots, which violate that sense of privacy, or spend enough years living and working with the people to know how not to violate. I would not do the former and couldn’t do the latter. I hoped that the absence of a human figure would not suggest the absence of a human eye, and that mine would be sensitive enough to the Navajo’s own sensitivity to his land. This hope was the basic challenge. There were other challenges.

Some Navajo areas are nationally known and celebrated; others are neither. I wanted both. Photographers must also fuss with logistics, and I would try to do my share. They also need intuition and luck. I rarely wait for something to happen. I haven’t the patience, and besides, there are usually too many things around already happening. So I hoped to be in the right places when the light said now!

(See the photograph full screen: Click Here.)

Stormlight, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, 1963, by Philip Hyde. From Navajo Wildlands.

I remember a storm-lit view of Canyon de Chelly. It had just stopped raining heavily when my wife came charging into the back office of the Visitor Center and said, “Come out and see what’s happening over on the rim.” Together we grabbed camera and gear and ran half a mile or more to the edge of the canyon. A shaft of sharp yellow light was burning its way through a rent in the clouds. Still breathing heard, I managed to set up the camera, calculate the exposure, and release the shutter. Thirty seconds later the clouds closed, and the light was gone.

I begin to see when I leave the car behind. The immensity of the Navajo country, however, made working with the car essential in many places. Nevertheless, the times I remember with most pleasure are those when we were walking around Navajo Mountain into the canyons of the Rainbow Plateau, or backpacking to Keet Seel. These were the wilderness experiences, and the others are pale. For more on wilderness see the blog post, “Wallace Stegner: The Wilderness Idea.”

Navajo Mountain was another adventure, thanks again to the primitiveness of a road. There is something exciting about a rough dirt road into new country, particularly if its remoteness is famous. At Rainbow Lodge Trading Post, you are about as far from pavement as a Navajo can get. Kayenta once had such remoteness, as did Monument Valley. Remoteness vanished when the high-standard paved highway came.

We arrived at the Rainbow Post in late afternoon to find Myles Headrick, the trader, busy with several groups of customers. We sat on grain sacks piled against the wall and we watched the trading process. We couldn’t understand the soft exchange of words in Navajo, but we could watch facial expressions and gestures, hear the modulations and occasional chuckles.  We spent an hour or more cultivating what Sally Carrighar, in Moonlight at Midday, calls the Quiet Mind. She speaks of it as an Eskimo trait, but the Navajos share it. I think we could expect to find it in any individual or any people who have kept touch with what the land is saying and who lack the benefits of instant dissemination of the human troubles that make news.

Relaxed and willing, we waited out four days of rain before starting our descent into the canyons of the Rainbow Plateau. But first we had to go down about four miles to our Navajo packer’s Hogan. We navigated more than drove, for the road was all too often a sea of mud. Somehow we made it down to the sandy flat below the Mountain’s shoulder, and found our way among the maze of tracks to the Hogan. We were pleased to be asked in, but the darkness that had begun while we visited was not too reassuring when we left the hogan’s snugness. How would you put on film our apprehension of that slippery slide to Rainbow Lodge? Or how we kept moving, foot by foot, grateful for the rocky places that had once worried our tires? Or how time was suspended in our concentration until, an infinity later, our headlights found the Trading Post? This is the kind of adventure that highway engineers seem determined to wipe out, and what diminishes this diminishes me. Whom does an overtamed world serve?

Our Navajo Mountain adventure took on a new aspect two mornings later when our packer brought up his retinue of three horses, four people, and two dogs….

(CONTINUED IN BLOG POST, “Toward a Sense of Place 3“)