The Ruth

Three people crossing the Ruth Glacier in Alaska
On the Ruth

I look out the window
Of the three-seat plane,
As we near the landing site
On the Ruth Glacier.

In the Alaska Range.

Not long after take-off, we flew over trees, rivers, and then the lower Glacier.
Now, we’re flying through the Great Gorge
Between startlingly huge mountains
And above a river of ice.
The world is the colors of snow, rock, and sky.

Prominent peaks dominate.
Denali, the great one, is straight ahead but not close.
The Moose’s Tooth is to our right and nearby,
Both imposing but welcoming.

In the Alaska Range.

Suddenly, we break free of the Gorge
And fly into the Ruth Amphitheater.
The venue of venues.

The Cessna turns left
Toward the Mountain House.
We haven’t even landed yet,
But the concert has already begun.

In the Alaska Range.

We’re late, what should we do?
I take a deep breath,
And realize that thankfully we’re not too late,
Because the music never ends.

The sky is clear
And the landing site on the snow is vivid.
The closer we get to the ground,
The more massive and magnificent the peaks become.

In the Alaska Range.

The plane touches down and stops.
I open the door and step
Out onto the Ruth.

Warm in my parka
Overwhelmed by the surroundings.

There are few people, no musical instruments,
No conductor,
And not much of an audience.

But I feel the full force of what I hear,
And am compelled
To whisper to myself where all can hear, “Bravo.”

Audio Version:

In the Glacier Plane

Author: David Appleton

I was born and raised in Texas and currently live in the Texas Hill Country, spent some 30 years living in the smack dab middle of Colorado, and have spent a lifetime adventuring and leading others on adventures in many parts of the wild world.

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