Destinations in the Yukon are still in the realm of newness as I have lived here for only fifteen months. In that time I have had the opportunity to follow each of the cardinal directions, north, south, east and west. In each region I have found new favorites. The excitement of a Christmas morning happens on a regular basis rather than once a year.

My criteria to qualify as a “favorite” are really quite simple. The site must evoke either a hearty or hushed “Wow!” Or if not a note of admiration, it must result in a humble bow and an inner stirring of my heart. And if you experience both you have experienced a genuine place of magic. I tend to have those experiences in remote areas where bumping into the trappings of human civilization are unlikely.

I strive to find newness and beauty on each of my outings on the land. To do so forces me to look through
cheechako (rookie) eyes. . . as if seeing it for the first time. The challenge is not to take any hike or paddle for granted. It is my job to be observant, to see what others have missed.

The other night, a glance out the window from the Outpost on the Watson River, provided a blushing sky with the sun was flirting with bedding behind distant Goat Mountain. I pushed my chair away from the task of sorting through digital photographs and hurried outdoors for evening vespers. Racing the very orbit of the earth as it tucked the sun in for the night, I scrambled up a steep knob of land directly behind the Outpost. I have come to call this small,grass-topped bump, Pulpit Hill. While I don’t consider myself a particularly religious sort, I have my best conversations with any listening gods and goddesses from the summit of Pulpit. Here, I become the congregation rather than the orator of fire and brimstone.

It is here, at this ‘near wilderness’ that I am most often humbled. Here I am reminded that ultimately my very survival depends on the integrity and health of natural systems. Here I can breathe big and whisper “thanks” for the gifts of stunning views and sweet gulps of air made possible by plant chemistry. Each time I come up here is like a first visit. The big sky is never the same. Even a canvas of unclouded blue sky is made different by the tumbling of a pair of ravens. And the briskly moving, sinuous river below Pulpit Hill delivers new, tireless hymns. And if I study, really study the river surface I can always find a new ripple or eddy for me to wonder about. Here I can imagine new adventures when I gaze up the watery aisle towards a river bend that beckons exploration. It is here that I am reminded how very small I am. And it is here that I want to bring others seeking insight into what is truly important.

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