Through a Ranger's Eyes: Wild Country

June 29, 2015 Posted by: Crystal Brindle

I finally felt like I got back to my roots - the moments that drive me and keep me returning to the mountains. At last I had the time, weather, and ability to tackle a true adventure. First, my roommate and I made a spur of the moment decision to climb the Buttress Range and camp on top after work on Thursday. We didn't get our camp set up until after midnight but we had plenty of light all night.

Sunrise over campsite and rugged mountains
A spectacular sunrise over Mount Katolinat and the Buttress Range greets campers on a clear June morning. C. Brindle photo.

We woke at 5 to catch the sunrise and then made a mad dash down the slope and through the river back to Brooks Camp before departing on our boat trip to the base of Mount Katolinat. That afternoon was spent miserably ascending a 2,000 foot brush, grass, and alder choked slope in stifling heat and thick mosquitoes—bushwhacking in its most accurate form.

We finally crested the ridge and set up our second camp atop wildflower dotted tundra beneath the imposing summit of Katolinat (pictured). We spent a blissful evening under the midnight sun and then pushed for the summit at 7:30 the next morning. We enjoyed an incredible day of unparalleled views, refreshing snow, and ridge walking.

Woman standing on a rugged mountain ridge
The summit of Mount Katolinat provides what is possibly the best view in Katmai. C. Brindle photo.

The view from Mount Katolinat’s summit included an all encompassing panorama of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, steaming volcanoes, giant lakes, and miles upon miles of roadless wilderness devoid of the slightest human intrusion. Surrounding us were unnamed peaks and valleys bordered by impenetrable forest which concealed upwards of 2,000 brown bears, numerous moose, and packs of wolves. What is this land if not wild? As I try to reconcile and convey the difficulty involved in accessing Katmai's backcountry, I'm also confounded by what it means to meet a wild place on its own terms. Here's to the lands that remind us of how little we understand.

wilderness, backcountry, wildness, hiking, camping, adventure, Through a Ranger's Eyes

Last updated: August 21, 2015

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