"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Litter Notes for June 4: A Rainy Evening in Turnagain Pass

Chocolate lily.
I worked yesterday, delivering and picking up mail in Moose Pass, Hope and Cooper Landing.  When I returned home in mid-afternoon, I fielded a few phone calls and then considered my options.

I could take a nap.  That would guarantee I would toss and turn that night and then sleep too late Sunday morning.

If I stayed home, I would, without doubt, eat everything in sight.

Or, I could go litter-picking.  In the rain.

I made up my mind while I was standing in the kitchen, yawning and staring into the open refrigerator:  I laced up my hiking boots and headed for Turnagain Pass.

When I first started this far-from-home litter picking thing, my neighbor said he was going to make sure I received some public recognition.  He was, at that time, president of the local community club, and could indeed have accomplished. that.  I begged off, explaining that recognition might turn it into a feeling of obligation and take the fun out of it.

Now, five years later, I have long since passed through obligation and am deep in the throes of obsession.

Found this in the dirt.  It now lives in a nook in the guardrail.  Is this what drivers think of me?

Why else would I spend six hours in the rain alongside a busy highway, filling nine bags with litter of various kinds? 

Why?  For this:

The lovely lupine.

Choclate lily.

Wild violet and dogwood blossoms.

I don't know what the heck these are, but perhaps one of the many varieties of buttercups.

Wild iris, aka flags.  Growing in the gravel right beside the asphalt.


I thought I was photographing mossberry buds, but I see other leaves in there that look like they might be something else.  Mystery buds.

The first Jacob's ladder.

Wild geranium, their buds still covered in fuzz.

Salmonberry blossom.

Beats me.

Again, I don't know.  But look at the blossom cluster on the left.

This is a close-up of the plant above.  This is a bee clinging to the underside.

I touched it and it moved.  Apparently it's sleeping or staying out of the rain.

A healthy crop of chocolate lilies.

This plant has eight buds on it.  Eight!

Seven on this one.


That's why.  It's early yet, but in two weeks, this entire alpine pass through the Chugach Mountains will be carpeted with dozen of varieties of wildflowers.

I have reached the rest areas in Turnagain.  This is usually where I stop, but last  year I headed downhill to saltwater at Ingram Creek, another eight miles farther.  I haven't decided whether to do that this year, butu I probably will.

As of yesterday, I've walked and cleaned thirty-four miles through the Chugach National Forest.

Litter bag count:  330


  1. During my first trip to Alaska in `84 I kept crawling around on my knees trying to get good shots of some of the tiniest flowers I've ever seen. My favorite is actually a panorama shot on the beach in Seward on an over cast day, so everything is gray but the small single bright yellow flower and green foliage.

  2. I never knew there were wild lilies here. They are gorgeous! If my mom lived here she'd be out there with her shovel taking a few of those each kind home to plant in the yard. I remember going on flower hunts with her as a kid. She wanted wild flowers for our ditch so we went off to find some!

  3. I know what you mean about getting obsessed with picking up things. I've been doing that in my yard this spring. Even things that don't necessarily need picking up. I just have to be outside and since I'm not going to NorthPointe for exercise, I bend over a couple hundred times a day picking up stray leaves, sticks or anything else my eyes light on.

    I found a tiny frog yesterday!! It was dead, lying in the back yard near the area where we're growing new grass. Why he was there, I haven't a clue!!

    I think of you and your litter picking often when I'm wandering around out in the yard.

    Also, instead of using a hose, I make myself carry watering cans full of water to water my plants.

  4. Is there a Saint Gully - if not there should be. It would be YOU! Thank you for sharing the wild flower pictures. I hope we'll get to see more when everything is in bloom.

  5. I think it's wonderful what you do! I love all the wildflower pictures. What a great variety ~ with the litter picked up the wildflowers can truly be center stage!

  6. 330 bags!?!?? Man, you Alaskan's are messy. I imagine we Okie's are messy too, it's just that the wind blows the trash to Texas in the winter and Kansas in the summer. Keep up the good work, cuz then we get to enjoy all your pictures of those beautiful plants.