Yaak Valley Field Trip

Will Adams and Sam Olsen
What is the purpose of lightning but to fill a cave with calf-skin wet bodies? There is one. It is to fill a cave with bodies which tell stories. Mainly these stories are of lightning.
Throw a white stone into the Yaak. In the childhood dark of the Cabinets, there is a light of a car. It is indistinct, a fan of light, distilled. You see it rise, spread like a wing, and condense into two white lights. Around the hill, it disappears.
I think of memories which aren’t mine. My grandfather in the Dirty Shame. Ten years ago they ran their stoves and refrigerators on gas generators. Now, with power lines, their speakers project Born in the USA across the highway to the Yaak mercantile, which is the only other establishment in Yaak.
My grandfather, at seventeen, was approached by the Libby game warden. Bear was rooting through the Ranger’s dump. Wouldn’t kill it. Warden raised a cub. Jim sat on a ponderosa hill at dusk. Warden gave him a rifle. Warden and Jim sat together under a ponderosa, waiting. Saw the shadow loll to the dump. A nose twitch. Jim shot. The bear charged. Jim shot again.
At home, I ask my grandmother about Troy. “Oh, we didn’t leave Libby much. Only to visit our friends, who owned the drugstore. Will you eat turkey this Thanksgiving?”
“If you shoot it yourself, grandma.”
“We did that growing up. That’s bad, tough meat.”
“You did that growing up?”
“I wouldn’t do it again!”
A dog barks behind Lake Creek, in the field of turning cottonwood. I follow a trail home through canary grass.
At night I will wake to a train running on the Kootenai. I will hear the same dog.
From the porch, two comets will fall. The sound of ash leaves falling. Above the porch, a frozen, mounted King Salmon.
Miners, loggers, environmental activists, a State politician,  a range of human perspectives giving light to the depth and breadth of the human experience. Informative, thought provoking, inspirational.
Chaos emerging from crashing thunder and blinding lightning, hiking through sacred old growth Cedar forests, nourishing foraged Lion’s Mane fungus,  life giving Kootenai River magic, sun kissed peak bliss, a rainy bushwhacking adventure, joyful campfire music, star gazing into the void, all reminding us that life is a gift, a celebration. We are apart of nature, not separate from it. Tune into the beautiful depths of possibility, you are the eyes of the universe, rejoice.

Clockwise top to bottom:

Tailings from the Troy Mining Facility.
Sam holds a beautiful trout with reverence.
The group with Bill Martin, a wise compassionate man, Vietnam veteran, environmental activist, architect, and now a friend.
Tynan marches up Spar Peak in the Yaak Valley.
Cheerfully wet, the group, led by Sandy from “Friends of the Scotchman Peaks” wander through the clouds searching for an old prospector’s cabin.


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