A Price to Pay

Basin Road supports a tendril of Craftsman houses along the flank of Mt. Maria. There’s a high wooden trestle at road’s end that forms our portal to the woods. From here you can see Mt. Juneau quickly rise from Gold Creek to the sky.  Arms of the spruce forest reach high up the mountain’s flanks, separated by avalanche chutes and now frozen waterfalls.

The plan was to walk from Chicken Ridge to Basin Road and take the old mining road to Ebner Falls. A strong morning wind pinned Aki’s ears back when we left the house. Smelling ice in the wind, she threw on the brakes so we reversed course and dropped into Evergreen Bowl and took the Christopher trail across Gold Creek to the Flume Trail. While I was pulling ice cheaters on to my boots Aki alerted and a group of animals broke into the brush uphill of the trail. Later we learned they were 7 mountain goats apparently sheltering by the creek. There is always a price to pay for companionship.

Ice covered the trail from creek to flume trail and it took all my remembered rock climbing moves to make it up the steep path to the flume. This wooden rectangular shaped pipe feeds water to a small hydro electric plant at the edge of the Indian Village. It passes under some major avalanche chutes so we moved quickly and soon joined the trail to the Ebner Falls and the Perseverance mining district.

There is no hope for winter sunlight on this canyon trail, even today with its cloudless blue sky.   It’s all on the mountains above us. With eyes on the icy trail I think of the ghosts of man’s works now collapsed by weather and buried by new growth. Down below some mine buildings survive through the hand of man. The rest is long gone like the ore stamping mill that once thundered day and night at the head of Ebner Falls.

I think of other ghosts like the ones that Aki appears to see on the trail ahead or the soul of the high school student who fell to his death from this trail. We stop and think of him while looking at the ice locked falls.

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