A Night on the Thorofare

It was late August of 1994, and I found myself once again riding the National Park shuttle bus to to my first dropoff point int the Denali wilderness. I was issued a permit to spend a week backpacking in several of the most desired areas of the park. This was easy to do, travelling alone. Each of the park's 43 zones, tens of thousands of acres each, has a limit of only six or eight people per zone.

One night I was in front of Mount Eilson on a river bar. It had taken several hours to hike down from the park road and to scout around for a attractive site. I made my camp on a hard, little mud flat. That evening I watched a grizzly searching for berries and ground squirrels on the river bank of the Thorofare river. The river is actually fed from some of the glacial meltoff in the Alaska range. Most of these rivers are very narrow and very fast. They braid out and crisscross around, creating a wide bed, but only occuping a small portion. Crossing one of these is more dangerous than most anything else because they are decieving and can trick you to believe they are easy to cross. Many of the riverbanks themselves are usually very steep, in a way that sort of traps you if you are trying to get off the bed.

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Creative Writing Project #3: Into The Yellow Wood (1992)

I remember Mama.

You see, this morning I opened up the travel section in the Sunday paper to find a flashy ad that told me I could spend four days and three nights gambling, drinking, or sunbathing on one of the gaudiest Caribbean islands for what amounted to about a week's salary for me. That's gross...
salary, I mean. But that's not for me. I could find all that right down the street if that's what I wanted. No, I've always been a 'fly by the seat of my pants' kind of traveler, never paying for much more than an airline or train ticket . I'd rather opt for a youth hostel or tent than plush hotel accommodations that insulate a traveler from being submersed knee-deep in the local culture. Out on the road, like Jack Kerouac, that's where the most fun is. That's where the people are. And that's where you'll find me. On the road, where I am most at home.

This is where Mama comes in. She was always smiling at all the passerbys, and if she ever got a hold on you, look out. CRUNCH! She'd give you a hug that'd squeeze the devil out of you It was on the Island of San Salvador where she sat everyday at the intersection of a two street town, in the cool shade of the Talking Tree, while she weaved palm leaves into broad-rimmed hats and two-handled baskets that read 'San Sal' in bright red yarn.

She was a cunning old gal. She'd wait patiently for the college students who came to study at the research station, the only source of outside visitors on the island. The deep folds in the fabric of Mama's coton white skirt seemed to run clear up to the time worn folds in her dimpled cheeks. Whenever my fellow students and I would stroll through town, Mama would flash that inviting grin of hers, wave her arms, and softly shout, 'Come to Mama, darlings,' with an irresistible charm. That was the hook

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