I didn’t know returning to a Morganroth would create this strange place of re-inhabiting it and re-turning to it. Twenty years had passed. Twenty years. I do remember being 17 or 22, and I am occasionally and regularly astonished at how two things can exist at once: the fact that I feel exactly the same inside as I did all along, and that I cannot recognize that young woman, that girl, at all. It was in between my two years at grad school. Shannon had come up with the idea, and I remember reading the water-logged copy of the Sierra Club trip catalog and finally picking the backpacking trip to the Olympics because it was in-state, easy to get to, and less than $300. Ten days in the backcountry working on a revegetation crew. I’d been practicing backpacking and hiking on the Clarkfork River and the trip to Yaak with my writer friends at Eastern. We were happy with Clinton’s election and vegetarians. We were feminists and humanists and living as close to the edge as we could. We were a funny little family spending all of our time together in classes or out of classes, and balancing that with time we must spend alone to write. I had very little money. I wanted to write really, really good poems.
Shannon bagged out. I can’t remember why now, but she didn’t go, and so I showed up on September 8, 1993, with a rented backpack, a crappy pup tent, and cotton army-green shorts. I was in shape, actually, and hiked fast, back then. I was 30 and would turn 31 while we were in the Seven Lakes Basin. I do remember that the water was very cold, the stars were innumerable, and the green was green beyond green. I had a very hard time articulating what I felt back there, other than I was indeed infinitesimal, small, insignificant and part of something much grander than I ever imagined. I loved the eventual disrobing of the mind, how after a few days, I didn’t know the day of the week, or the world news, or the politics of my local community. There was, as I had imagined going into the Peace Corps, a pure simplicity to existing this way: eating with one utensil, sleeping on the ground, talking into the dark night sky with the heavens brilliant and bright above me. I was a tiny, tiny speck of consciousness and my perspective was forever changed.
It was the first time I remember wilderness as a place to reclaim myself, to cultivate clarity, to seek understanding without talking.