There are not many things that we enjoy as much as reading history, but hiking in the Rocky mountains is one of them. We love the lakes, rivers, and endless forests, and even the five months of winter.
This weekend we took the boys up to Steven’s lake, just east of Wallace, near the Idaho/Montana border. Mr. Heritage is prepping for a September hike to Mt. Whitney, and so is looking for “rigorous” weekend hikes.
One cannot help thinking, when trekking through these remote gorges and far-reaching expanses of wilderness, that it is man himself, rather than nature, that is vulnerable. City dwelling “tree-huggers” who fret about the fate of the forests should spend more time in Idaho to ease their worried minds.
We were reminded of one of my boys favorite poems, from the delightful Robert Service, “The Bard of the Yukon.”
The Pines by Robert Service
We sleep in the sleep of the ages, the bleak, barbarian pines;
The gray moss drapes us like sages, and closer we lock our lines,
And deeper we clutch in the gelid gloom where never a sunbeam shines.
On the flanks of the storm-gored ridges are our black battalions massed;
We surge in a host to the sullen coast, and we sing in the ocean blast;
From empire of sea to empire of snow we grip our empire fast.
To the niggard lands were we driven, ‘twixt desert and floes are we penned;
To us was the Northland given, ours to stronghold and defend;
Ours till the world be riven in the crash of the utter end;
Ours from the the bleak beginning, through the aeons of death-like sleep;
Ours from the shock when the naked rock was hurled from the hissing deep;
Ours through the twilight ages of weary glacial creep.
Wind of the East, Wind of the West, wandering to and fro,
Chant your songs in our topmost boughs, that the sons of men may know
The peerless pine was the first to come, and the pine will be the last to go!
We pillar the halls of perfumed gloom; we plume where the eagles soar;
The North-wind swoops from the brooding Pole, and our ancients crash and roar;
But where one falls, from the crumbling walls shoots up a hardy score.
We spring from the gloom of the canyon’s womb; in the valley’s lap we lie;
From the white foam-fringe, where the breakers cringe, to the peaks that tusk the sky;
We climb, and we peer in the crag-locked mere that gleams like a golden eye.
Gain to the verge of the hog-back ridge where the vision ranges free;
Pines and pines and the shadow of pines, as far as the eye can see;
A steadfast legion of stalwart knights in dominant empery,
Sun, moon and stars give answer; shall we not staunchly stand,
Even as now, forever, wards of the wilder strand,
Sentinals of the stillness, lords of the last, lone land?