Postcards From the Wilderness

View from near Appleton Pass in 2011

I got back yesterday from a short (annual) backpacking trip to the Olympic National Wilderness. I have tried each year to recreate a 1995 experience of visiting the Olympic Mountains, specifically the Boulder Creek watershed and Appleton Pass. This year, like the last two, the quickest way to the Pass was blocked by the ongoing Elwha Dam removal project, the biggest of its kind in North America. Maybe I was drawn there for the hot springs, or for the fact that it is an incredibly sacred place according to the native Elwha /Klallam people. (See this recent article.) I have had many remarkable experiences there, including an unexpected view from the air in September 2000.

Wednesday I got into the woods carrying 40 pounds, which proved to be too much for my old body. I’m going to try to cut that in half before my next backpacking adventure. But I found a nice spot by where Lena Creek empties into Lena Lake and made my camp. Here are some of the photos from the trip, the first three outside the park, a place that inspired a poem on a trip my oldest daughter Rebecca and I took in I think 1995.

Hamma Hamma River

Also outside the park, a nod to the 70s radical American Indian Movement

Lena Lake

A perfect huckleberry bush




And could I stop writing postcards even in the woods? No I could not stop writing postcards in the woods:

502. This Continuing Roar (For Michael McClure)

503. Below The Brothers (For Gary Snyder)

About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB in Seattle and the Cascadia Poetry Festival. He wrote a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger.) He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets, has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois and other places & writes an American Sentence every day.
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2 Responses to Postcards From the Wilderness

  1. kristin says:

    Looks like an amazing place to backpack.

  2. Splabman says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE The Olympic Mountains. Soon I will be reunited with the Olympic Hot Springs and will get a soak. Even if I must go in November. I have gotten a soak there in every season, with snow on the ground or in August heat. Wonderful. Thanks for reading.

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