I am trying to ignore the voice that rises up the mountain from the mouth of a woman heading this way with at least one friend. It never stops or slows. Aki looks forward at a small family ahead of us on the trail. They stop, having just crested the saddle so their toddler can ride a diminutive bicycle around them. The mountain turns in a Fellini set but without nuns or umbrellas. We have left it too late.
Normally early risers, Aki and I would have been climbing up this mountain slope at daybreak but for errands and an appointment in late morning that could not be missed. We pass the family, nice folks with quiet voices, and continue to a mountain ridge said to offer a view of Admiralty Island. The voice and her friend pass the family and continue apace with Aki and I. Showing no sign of weakening it fills the air with stories of things that happened far from here and that mean nothing to me. The voice will follow us to the top.
Seeking the smallest solitude I lead Aki off the dry gravel road and onto a wet downward curving muskeg meadow. In minutes we hear only a tiny wind. I’d meant to come up here on the sunny weekend day in late September that we spent in the Fish Creek woods. This meadow would have been a persian carpet of colors that day. Today only low bush blueberry brush and free standing deer cabbage leafs offer some red drama to go with a few grass clumps still showing gold and yellow beauty. Most everything else has faded to early winter brown.
We walk where the wind strikes hard at the mountain shoulder before bending downslope to the sea. Few plants can grow more than a foot off the ground. Only wind sculptured mountain hemlocks and the stripped carcasses of gnarled spruce reach high enough to bother the wind.
Have I mentioned that the ground and all its plants carry a heavy load of dew drops that soak Aki and my shoes. At first I accepted it as the price of escaping the voice then saw the dew drops sparkle with sunlight turning the brown corpses of skunk cabbage into works of art.
We find a patch of low growing blueberry bushes that still hold fruit. While I take a picture of the berry forest Aki the brat invades it, knocking over ripe berries as she goes then gobbles up the ones that caught her eye. I manage to find the two or three berries that escaped her pillaging and pop them in my mouth. They taste faded as the colors that surround them. We left it too late.