Monday, June 23, 2008

Hiking in Duluth II

I’d planned again to finally finish writing that militarism/nationalism post today, but instead got outside early and decided to spend most of the day there. All of the more natural places I visited were looking lovely, but due to humans (I’m shocked!) there’s also some real ugliness going on.

Here in our little semi-urban semi-wilderness, this hiking day leaned more to the urban side. I entered the Lakewalk at 12th Avenue and headed northeast to the ledges, passing the Ledges and the other obscenities built in the past few years which blocked the view of the Lake while the city government either filled their pockets or mumbled in their sleep. Dozens of geese passed and flew ahead of me. Once on the rocks, I picked up as many cans and bottles from near the Lake as I could carry and left them in a pile up beside the paved trail. I told myself again to remember to bring along a bag when I go there.

After heading into Mansionville and a long wait to cross London Road, I headed uphill beside Tischer Creek, crossed Superior Street, and then descended into its magic world of bridges, cliffs, and waterfalls. The mostly old photos at might give you some idea of the area. The air was filled with a snowstorm of sorts coming from the trees though I couldn’t figure out which species. Among several flowering plants, I was happiest to see the large white flowers of the thimbleberry, as I anticipated its mushy tartness later in the summer. Butterflies included a lovely tiger swallowtail.

Looking up high to clifftop, this was a case when I would have been happy to see a majestic cougar highlighted against the sky and looking down at me. I’ve developed an on and off cougar paranoia in the past few years since reading The Beast in the Garden which has occasionally prevented me from fully enjoying my solo hikes. I realize it’s absurd, there have been no cougar-killed humans in the area or even attacks as far as I know, their local population is small enough that state officials prefer to say it doesn’t exist, in most cases a cougar won’t attack a human anyway and if s/he does the preferred method is from behind with a quick snap of the spine at the neck, I have no problem contemplating encounters with wolves or bears, this is what naturally happens to us animals as we get older and slower and culled from the pack, yep, yep, yep, I know all that. And I’d much prefer my dead body feed a cougar or any other wildlife than be embalmed and stuck in a box, or wasted in burning. But still, rationality has nothing to do with phobias, and the off chance of watching the cat tearing out my innards is unnerving.

On this day, the mosquitoes did me more damage. And only one sighting of that true bane of Duluth’s beautiful trail system: the unleashed dog. I have no real problem with people ignoring leash laws in a flat open area. But doing so on wooded curving narrow cliffside trails is completely irresponsible and unsafe. If you believe these humans, no dog ever bites and they’re all really friendly. Even if that were true, they harass wildlife and growl and bark and charge and startle and bang into people. Speak loudly and carry a big stick. Don’t be afraid to use it, though unfortunately you’re more likely to need to use it on the dog instead of on the human who really deserves it. It’s a long way down, for the human or the dog.

After coming out of the woods, I stopped at the best church parking lot in the country, with a great view of the Lake. Why anyone goes in their building looking for a god is beyond my comprehension. Just go to their parking lot.

After a stop at home for leftover stir-fry and a smoothie, it was back to the Lakewalk in the other direction to spend a couple hours with the peregrine falcons. The adults were hanging out providing good views today, and the nestling will be ready to fly within a week or so. I may just quit job-hunting until he does, on the off chance that someone might actually hire me and want me to start right away.

I planned to stop at the Brewhouse for happy hour and a wild rice burger, but unhappily talked myself out of spending the money. The beers might have helped me view the slaughter near home. A block away, Oliver Management (Spirit Mountain golf course, anyone?) has cut down well over a dozen large trees in front of their building and clearcut another area where a variety of smaller trees and shrubs used to live. All this on a hillside, and I envision the whole shebang sliding across the street in the next big rain. OK, now I’m angry enough again to write about the flagwavers. It’s that time of year; let’s all get drunk and play with explosives.

RIP George. "I look at it this way... For centuries now, man has done everything he can to destroy, defile, and interfere with nature: clear-cutting forests, strip-mining mountains, poisoning the atmosphere, over-fishing the oceans, polluting the rivers and lakes, destroying wetlands and aquifers... so when nature strikes back, and smacks him on the head and kicks him in the nuts, I enjoy that. I have absolutely no sympathy for human beings whatsoever. None. And no matter what kind of problem humans are facing, whether it's natural or man-made, I always hope it gets worse."


Terry said...

It does seem to be a law of "nature" that the one thing you don't find when you start picking up garbage is a bag to put it in. Given the number of supermarket bags you usually see blowing around, this is the sort of thing that can start to undermine your atheism :-)

greentangle said...

Hmm, that sounds like the sort of observation Carlin would make.

Did you see the new Pew American religion study results? Angels & demons & hell, oh my.

And apparently 1 in 5 atheists also believes in god. I guess they're like the vegetarians who eat chicken.