Sunday, May 29, 2016

Pivoting in Nairobi

I woke up reflecting on the past two weeks here in Kenya. Of course, it has flown by, as it always does. My little theory (which may be too strong a word for my musings), is that the human brain becomes accustomed to what it thinks is "normal". When we put our sensory systems into overload, time expands. So much new information is coming in that it feels like we have been somewhere a lot longer than we actually have. So these two weeks feels a lot more like six months. But... what do I know from neurology?

I came to Nairobi as a support team member for a small, efficient crew with producer and cinematographer, John Northrup, of Asheville, North Carolina. John sees the world in a way we'd all like to see it. Light and shadow, rules of thirds and broken rules and all of it second nature. The third member of the team is Noah who is primarily here to make sure everything we film has the right sounds. But he... and John are so much more than their tasks. Noah lives in an idillic setting with his wife and children. He's well traveled and intelligent and somewhat of a closet prepper.

We weren't supposed to be in Kenya. At least that's what you'd say if you looked at our original itinerary, and had listened in on our preproduction plans. We thought we'd be heading to another part of the world, to a refugee site with a lot of people that have left their homes due to civil war. Long story, short, the government where these people lived insisted their citizens worship their way or die. Not everyone agrees with that. Eventually, the country split in two, and ever since has had a hard time getting along.

While on the flight into Nairobi two weeks ago, we were told that the plans had changed. Our client had their reasons, as clients tend to do. And so we held here and waited to learn how we would pivot and maintain the objective.

A long time ago, not far from here, Jesus Christ chose to allow others to end him by hammering spikes through his extremities. It's not an unfamiliar story I realize, and some have tried unsuccessfully to prove it a myth. Before he died, he was tortured, whipped until he bled, spat upon, mocked, nailed through his wrists and feet until he bled some more, raised on the crossbeam of wood and left there until he breathed his last, and speared in the side until he bled again one last time. As he hung there, on the cross he said a few words. Two of those words were, "forgive them". And by "them" he meant, those that accused and murdered him. And mysteriously too, he also meant us, as in all of us including myth-sayers.

His were strong words. The point of our being here, is to capture the stories of people who are alive and among us even now; people that have shared in some of Christ's persecution, and lived to tell about it... so far. Some of them will be tortured again... and die, ultimately, because of their refusal to reject Jesus' own death on the cross. There's way more to that story too, but it'll have to wait. Suffice to say they are brave men and women who are also willing to forgive their captors.

The people we have met so far on this project have strong words too. They tell their captors that they love them, and forgive them. Even as they are being beaten and broken, they sing. They teach other prisoners to sing. They counsel their guards.

Don't get me wrong, it's a hard-won thing they do. To the man, they describe the battle they waged with their own bitterness and hate. As they reflected on the events that preceded their arrests, they, every one of them, felt the desire for revenge for the brutal torture and deaths of their friends, and members of their families. And over time, as their hearts transformed to reflect Christ's love for their enemies, the self-consuming feelings of anger left. Gone. Only joy remained! Story after story, it's clear to me. These guys suffer, survive, and thrive. Sometimes only to suffer again.

I have an enviable job. I maintain eye contact and look into the faces of these men throughout the interview. John has lit them perfectly for the lens. Noah stops us from time to time because the audio hears a horn honk or the scraping of a chair in the room above us; because of him, audio is perfect. And I sit, literally not breaking my gaze as I see the face of Christ in their faces. They tell us stories that wrench my gut, and stir my own feelings of revenge and hate. And then they laugh. Something always strikes them as ironic. "They threw us out of prison because too many others found Jesus." Laugh. "They beat us less because our love for them raised guilty feelings." Laugh. "The same guy that asked me advice about his wife during the day, beat me the next night!" Laugh. "Can you believe it? When they persecuted us, more people came to Christ, we grew stronger!" Laugh.

I don't know what has made a larger impression on me these past two weeks. Was it the irony of their laughter and even their gratitude for their suffering? Is it the real-time representation of Christ's own torture that I can hear in their stories? Or perhaps the realization that while I think I would not last five minutes in the foul-smelling cell, with a gun to my head, with bruises and bleeding... that in reality Christ would come to me as He has to these men? Or the ridiculous things I've prayed for, worried about, or worse, complained about.

We pivoted in Nairobi. We brought the stories of persecution and of God's work to us here, rather than going where we'd planned. These are just the tips of the termite mound, so to speak. It's frustrating, sometimes, trying to sort out the changes. We lost some time, something that apparently is of little concern to God. In the end, we gained mobility and privacy and peace for those whose identities we keep confidential for their own protection, and for the protection of those with whom they live. Because, and this blows my mind even still, they survived being persecuted and tortured, and then they stay. Who does that? They know they were preserved for a reason. It was not to flee to the west where the only hangnail-sized persecution we can come up with is a bakery boycott.

Someone recently told one of our new friends that they wished God would bring persecution to the United States... His response was wide-eyed. "No! Do NOT pray for that. We are prepared for persecution. I'm afraid Christians in America couldn't survive it". I can only speak for myself - I can't imagine surviving it. May God be present with His mercy now and forever.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Here's to Lent

This week marked the tenth year anniversary of my leaving the hospital after a 40-day stay that saved my life. I remember sitting in that hospital bed and thinking I'd never see ten years from then. And yet here I am. So many great things that happened as a result of walking out of there in mostly one piece. 

I returned to my first choice of career, filmmaking / video production. I saw my oldest son marry his now, wife...and their addition of my first grandchild. So many other amazing things. Who would have thought that guy with a partial pancreas and one kidney, among other damaged organs, would go on to self-produce and publish a documentary that would air on PBS and win festival awards. Or watch his youngest kids who were five, ten years ago, enter high school... surely not me. 

Those doubts that dog-pile us at our worst are hard to even remember when things are going well. But it's that suffering that makes it worth something. It's the pain and the eventual emergence from pain, that makes the good life even better. I have - as do we all - much to be grateful for. 

Ten years ago, lent was only beginning right about now. I decided I'd lived through my wilderness of 40 days, so I took a pass in 2006. It's the same idea though. At least on one level, we withhold what we crave in order to put our bodies in that state of suffering, even if on a nominal scale, in order to make the Easter resurrection mean something more than an intellectual fact. 

These days I read news stories about this or that celebrity that passes on. Some notable person that has lived the sum total of his or her days. Makes me think. And I'm reminded that it may not have been so for any of us - so far. Somehow we've all who are alive, survived this life up to now. And with it some suffering. Some joys. Some thrills. Some mundane. Some of this, some of that. The good news is we have a lot to be thankful for. Ten years ago, what were you thinking about? What will you remember in another ten, God willing you have them? Maybe make a note of it, mark it down somewhere. 

While it's no hope of mine that anyone should suffer a crushing blow from a log in ice cold water, there is something that happens when there's an historical Big Thing that causes you to reflect. And maybe that's another reason for Easter. After all, it doesn't get much bigger than God risking His son to redeem all of mankind. I didn't die from torture, as our Lord did... may that cause us to stop long enough to think, "things are pretty good compared to death on a cross..." Anyway, here's to lent. 40 days may be ten good years depending on how you look at it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Nagging my way to a new website.

Producing a new website is a stressful thing. It should not be. It should just involve hiring a brilliant web designer (every one of whom I'm aware is busy) and feeding them content. Then, magically, the website appears online.

That's not how it went down for me this last time.

I happen to know the first thing about html. It's the second through ten-thousanth thing that throws me off a little. I know that you use brackety things... <,  and />,  to do stuff. That's the first thing. What I don't know is how to keep the website from completely falling apart and throwing pixel-boogers at the screen when I go to render it.

I remember talking to a young web designer many years ago. He was a kid then. He told me, "I can't spell, they told me so in school and so I have a disability..." I remember asking him, "how often do you make spelling errors in your code?" The answer was of course, "never". He was, and still is, brilliant. I rediagnosed him as not having a spelling disability, he just didn't care. I'm the opposite. I hold my own with spelling (though, "rediagnosed" isn't a word). It's language of html that has me over a barrel.

So after a solid week of this and that, including "just plugging in a template and replacing all the content..." a thing I thought would be easy, I have a new website. ( It's not perfect, and I can't take any credit for the coolness of it. But it's functional. Someone asked me, could you make this bar a different color? Nope. Or... can you move this text to over there? No, again. Someone else, what about that font? It stays. I can't care anymore. Sure I'm calling warts, beauty-marks, what of it?

Here's the thing though. I've worked with web designers before. They become these nags that call you four times a day and tell you there's not enough pictures (that you don't have) or text (that you haven't written) or social media links (none of which you subscribe to...yet). So, four times a day, you race around your assets looking for stuff you don't yet have. That was why I decided to do it myself. "I'm going to race around looking for assets anyway, I might as well not be nagged..."

There's this thing, nagging actually produces a better product. I've realized that the web person who knows exactly how to things is the person I want worrying about making those things work
in the first place. And that is why next time I have to do this, I'm just going to hire a nag. I will either pay in lost sleep and geeky YouTube tutorials that might make sense if I played Dungeons and Dragons in college, or...I will pay by slavery to the next lucky web designer with whom I contract to get my back on my site.

On the upside, now if I have to change "its" to "it's", I can do it without the worse of two evils... my nagging the web designer to do it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Shadows Are Waiting

There's something incredibly disorienting about a developing world airport in the dark. It was 8pm when my shuttle approached the Kilimanjaro airport in Tanzania. I recalled my arrival only two weeks ago, though the overtime my brain is working processing the billions of unfamiliar sensations makes it seem months ago.

It's a common experience whenever I enter one of these back-water airports. Its chaotic. And confusing. The lights are all centrally located at the terminal and only yards away from the 'curb' it seems the light is sucked out of the air. Due in part to their low wattage. The lights are always placed high and aimed helpfully at the ground there but the angle hits passengers directly in the eyes.

The overall effect is the sea of, in this case, black faces absorbed into a silhouette of shadows all calling out in a language I hardly understand. Hands reach out from every direction and grasp my bags or trolley by the same handle I'm using... Thick accents say, 'my friend, I should help you?' Or karibu bwana, 'welcome, boss' I can't see their faces only their hands and wrists. The lights crunch my pupils, as they attempt to adjust to the sharp contrasting brightness.

Its chaotic ... And wonderful. I remember the first few times I experienced it many years ago. I was grabbing for my wallet and passport ... Afraid of pickpocket's groping, hungry fingers. This morning I laughed at my former self.

I feel now that I'm never far from home. These people are understandably desperate for the tips that come from hoisting bags or offering unofficial cab rides. They have found a niche and know the flight schedules for arrivals and departures of every major carrier.

The KLM aircraft seems freakishly huge on that tarmack. I walked out on the concrete to the monster A330. I felt incredibly small.

Behind me, a cacophony of heat and humidity... And a gaggle of people who all look alike there. That is not a racist comment. They all look like shadowed silhouettes. They look like backlit mountains before the full moon rises behind it. Details are lost and only the occasional hand or voice that penetrates the darkness becomes visible in the blinding light.

I no longer fear those places as I did the first few times. In fact. Its much like a homecoming now. Though there is human greed and corruption. If I mind my head and keep a sharp eye, its more like returning to open arms at the holidays now. Those hands are only a few inches away from broad smiles and quick laughs as I attempt my broken swahili. A few slang words like the one for 'cool' always gets the same response... 'How you know this word?' It gets a laugh and oddly those groping overly helpful hands feel more like a massive welcoming committee to me now. Perhaps the bright backlights are helpful, like a Mardi Gras mask that suppresses inhibitions. Our overly safe theatrically lit western curb sides maybe are less humane. Inhibition reigns and we avert eye contact, let alone breaking the physical space barrier of touching someone else's bags. The audacity of the curb chaos is also the charm in it.

So I'm now here in Amsterdam at the gate. I'm heading home. I know my kids will be there with Melinda. They wont stop at the bag handles though, because like the throng at the curb in Kilamamjaro they are the welcome committee. Personal space is disregarded. And.... They wont stop at the bag handles because they will be wanting to see what bwana has brought for them. Gifts from afar. Chiefly, the difference perhaps is that concept of personal space. 'Karibu' is the swahili word for Welcome. Its used interchangeably between 'you're welcome' and 'welcome' as in 'welcome home'. That's the thing that in the poverty of the place... or at least the 'poorness' of it, poverty being reserved for hopelessly poor... the thing that struck me was the wealth that is in a freely given smile or a hand, a word, a laugh. Along the curbside in the shadows of the waiting throng, personal space is not only over-rated, it's karibu at its finest.

Arrive in fear and you'll miss it as I did many years ago. Tired as you are from your journey, get your smile ready. The shadows are waiting. 

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Back into the air

Wow, just looked and the last time I wrote in here was AUGUST. Man, it's been a busy fall so far.

Tomorrow morning I'll be climbing aboard a flight that will, after a few connections, land me in Arusha, Tanzania for the World Vision Triennial Council. I'm one of four producers on a team to provide video and other creative services for the event.

I'll be writing again in here for this trip. It should be kind of interesting and I'm looking forward to meeting people from all around the world. I think it's something like 80 countries represented there.

The project is broad enough in scope that it should provide some interesting fodder for stories. My client is my former employer, Greg Flessing (Fresh Air Media). The other two team members are Greg's son, Aaron and another former Fresh Air associate, Mark Dowlearn. So... here's to some great eavesdropping there near the base of Kilimanjaro. I'll let you know what I see along the way.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Frame Forward

The bullet tore through the silence of the mountains like the detonation of rolling thunder. It called out to itself and answered like a skipping record, eventually fading away, as if the explosion happened between two facing mirrors, the memory of it retreated into infinity.

The hunter breathed a sigh of relief. The sheep she’d been stalking for hours lay dead. The single shot broke its neck; it was a quick death with no suffering.

Later, when I looked at the footage I captured of the kill, I am amazed at the appearance of life to death and back to life again, as I jog the moment back and forth, one frame at a time. As I tapped the frame forward key, frame by frame, from the moment the hunter pulled her trigger, I can see the vapor trail of the bullet frozen in time and space. The bullet travelled only several hundred yards to its destination, the otherwise unaware Dall Sheep standing at an edge that sharply divided grass from rocks.

A single frame backward, life. A frame forward, death. The vapor trail in between the two gave me, maybe, a glimpse of one of God’s vantage points. Though it feels almost blasphemy and arrogance to suggest it, may God forgive me. But I do wonder. Does God, being omnipresent and without obligation to time and space, ever take a “moment” to frame forward and back, so to speak, and study His creation?

Perhaps the gunshot sound that reflected itself into infinity, (or oblivion if you’re a glass-half-empty sort of person) was a reminder that time only marches on for us. There is no stopping it. Nobody can cheat it, there are no buttons on life’s interface. We only go forward. We can only go … “on”, as it were, which was where we headed eventually.

I was filming a guide and hunter in the Brooks Range of Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle. The final push to find this ram began at 9am that day. It was 8:30pm when the sheep lay down for the last time. Those eleven and a half hours included several thousands of feet elevation changes, stream crossings, side-hilling along loose slag (piles of  tons of broken fragments of rocks) on trails cut into the edges of mountains by herds of migrating caribou and crawling on hands and knees up craggy chutes of falling rocks. I realized I was crawling without bending over up the steep mountain face. My pack chained me to the earth with an earnest commitment to gravity. Each step was a chore.

Getting to a prey animal is not easy. They react to anything that might prove their lowly position on the food chain. We whispered, and walked softly, wincing every time a rock popped loose underfoot and dominoed down the slope. Stop, look through the binoculars, go higher, stop, look, go lower and across, stop…. It went on like that for several hours until finally the beginning of the end. “I see him”. After that, there was little stopping until we were at the top of the cliff at eye-level and 800 yards away from the only likely legal ram within miles in every direction. Too far to shoot.

A watched pot, as they say, never boils. Apparently the same principle predicts that a watched ram will never rise. I was on one ridge. Our target was dozing on the next one. My ridge had crumbling rocks teetering on a steep angle. The sheep’s ridge had a grassy, flat ledge, called a “bench” that was backed like an amphitheater, by a huge rock wall.

If I pause that frame, it’s easy to think the sheep was the lucky one. Ignorance, of course is indeed bliss and luck has a way of spiraling down the drain. Once it lifted the heavy curled horns and stood up to feed, we began to move. Our hunter mentioned the likeness to Spider Man, as we clung to the cliff face, stepping carefully on sheep trail to move closer to where the ram might feed. As we closed the 800 yard gap, I thought, “no way. Spider Man doesn’t have 30lbs of junk on his back that keeps yawing toward the 300’ drop below my feet. My senses are tuned to their limits.

I heard my heart beat in my ears. The falling slag that complained its way down the slope with every step sounded almost like broken glass, or porcelain. Wind slinked around my face, then reappeared on the other side of my head. Hot sweat in my shirt ran cold as the air found its way into my coat. A mosquito buzzed in my ear, (I thought to myself, “seriously??? Up here too???”) I touched the cold rock that fit together like a huge gray Lego set. I fiddled with a piece, it slipped out, leaving a hole of the exact size and shape. Someone shifted their weight releasing more rocks, and I thought, “That’s what slag sounds like, I’m standing on a big pile of drab Lego’s.” I thought of my kids pawing through their Legos. “Time to go”. The whispered words hang there. A frozen frame that for all I know is still sitting there. The whispers endlessly bouncing back and forth forever.

I later asked the guide how many people he would guess have stood in that exact spot on the mountain. He had no way of knowing, but did a quick history lesson on human occupation and cultures there and wagered, “less than ten”.

We had one last stretch to make. The entire path to the next hidden ridge that divided us from the ram was a 100-yard straight line that cut through a slide of more slag that disappeared below. Every step loosed a wave of broken rocks, each fragment tapping another which had a cumulative effect similar to the deafening roar made by the millions of bubbles in sea foam as the ocean expires on the shore.
Before I knew it, I had the camera set and hit the red button, the hunter peered through her scope, her gun resting on packed down jackets and packs, and the guide whispered in his excited raspy voice, “Now. Hit him right in the chest…”

The bullet tore through the silence of the mountains like the detonation of rolling thunder.

Frames forward.

We stood near the beautiful white sheep and set up for the typical poses you see in hunting magazines. And, to quote Jimmy Buffett, “that’s when we first saw the bear”.

He was a grizzly. A big one. Sitting on a rock about 200 yards below us. It’s hard to know if he even knew we were there, but he would have soon enough as the wind blew from us to him. It was nature’s can-on-a-string and would take our dead sheep scent straight to the opportunistic carnivore. He was easier to chase off than I would think. But the chase itself was adrenaline filled. I kept asking myself, “can this get any harder?” We yelled, and threw rocks and fired the gun in his direction until he finally, panting, ran off.

The sun was going down, and by 11pm the animal was skinned and butchered. The gut pile stank. The meat, cape (another way of saying “hide”) and horns was packed in special bags and loaded into packs and as the sun finally disappeared and the mountain phased into its coldest hours, we set out for our 7 hour journey through the darkness back to camp. That is an entire other story though, and I’ll probably write it up at some future date.

I am not a hunter. I’m a story-teller. I’m a filmmaker and merely try to observe the world as actively as possible. Sometimes that’s turned into words, and other times it’s with images. Something I can’t shake from this experience is the elasticity of time.

“The mountain has a way…” I’ve heard that sentence ended many different ways. It has a way of bending time. Maybe that’s where God sits as he takes (or makes?) a moment to witness His own doings. The bends and curves and elasticity of time, perhaps, are where we might meet Him. Sometimes it’s in the blink of an eye at light speed. Other times it’s a billion lingering blinks, the bursting of sea foam bubbles – one at a time, the vapor trail of a bullet hanging like the last dry, red leaf of a tree in autumn; just one frame away from falling to its destiny. Whether I’m stuck in rush hour traffic or sitting on a ledge where fewer than ten people may have ever been, it’s the frames that matter most. 

One at a time, or 24 at a time… life to death… then back to life again.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Beyond the edge

Today is my fourth day in Alaska. Already I've been on foot, carrying a lot of weight on my back for something like 20 miles of horizontal distance. But the last two days were an intense vertical trial over unstable terrain. I'm here to film the activities of Lance Kronberger, a 19 year veteran of guiding hunters and fishermen into some of the most remote and challenging places on earth. 

I'm not 40-something. I'm 55-something. And today I feel as though my legs have turned to rubber, were it not for the burning and pain I feel with every step. 

We hiked up to a bluff two days ago. It was a lot of slogging up hill first through groves of skinny trees that live near water at the edge of the tree line, then through chest high grass, and finally to ankle deep blueberries and white, lace-like, slippery lichen. And it was all uphill. At the time, I was thinking this was the kind of uphill we would be working on. But this was more like the bunny slope of our adventure. 

Lance's client was a 15 year old kid named Jamie. He's an African-American who was in foster care until a few years ago when he was adopted by Nathan and Nathan's wife. Jamie's dad was with us on the hunt. A month ago Nathan was in surgery to have a tumor removed from one of his kidneys. Three weeks ago, he started getting up and walking a little. And yesterday he was on the side of incredibly steep terrain hoping to see his son take a record ram.

We got up yesterday morning after a night of rain and heavy wind. It was cold and still raining. I hurriedly (over) packed for the day and ambled off with the others to have breakfast next to a nearby creek. And then we set about climbing. Up. And up. It's not like we were on a trail of any kind. I was on rubber legs by the time we got to the top of the first hill. We were climbing on blueberries. Millions of them. The green hillsides here are only a leaf's width away from being purple. 

Once we gained some elevation, we began to "side-hill". The slopes range from 45 degrees, to steep enough to stand up straight and reach over and touch the slope. And that's where things got nerve-racking. I was tipping ever down-hill, or so my brain thought. Lance finally told me to stand up straight and attempt to make my feet think we were walking on a sidewalk. That worked until I stopped thinking about it and went back to leaning into the hill again. Once I happened to look uphill at Lance on the way over to the sheep and realized that he was only the distance between my kitchen and my front door. The fact that I had to look steeper than 45 degrees to see him was incredibly disheartening. I forced my rubber legs to move, but they protested much.

It was not easy. In fact, it was probably the hardest thing I've ever done (so far). And according to Lance, this was the easiest sheep hunt I will ever be on... and the goats are even harder. I had serious thoughts of turning around, packing up my things, and heading home. 

I'm glad I didn't however. Because when we reached the top of the crumbly, rocky ridge, looking out over the Eagle River valley, I was stunned at what I'd just accomplished. We were looking into the spotting scope at three or four rams that had been resting in the rocks about 1200 yards away. 

Dall Sheep are snow white. They have these massive horns that curl around and outward from their heads. They can climb at amazing speeds and are comfortable in craggy rocks and overlooks that give them the advantage over even the most athletic human. They are beautiful creatures. They feed lower down, however, and the lower down where these rams were feeding was an elevation drop of probably 2,000 feet from where we were sitting. 

We sat there a long time. Clouds came and went. Fog blew in and sat for long stretches. Rain and wind blew while we sat there a long time. It was pretty miserable. Then the clouds would part and the sun would shine and I was amazed again to be where I was. Suddenly Lance declared we were to grab our packs, put everything in them, and follow him down. Fast. My rubber legs turned to jelly. The burn in my calves and thighs was unbearable. At one point I found that sitting down and leaning forward on the blueberry hills (once we got out of the crumbly rock that was now obvious to me to have been some prior avalanche) and bum-sliding down. That worked remarkably well, until I would uncover a rock there below the surface. I remembered hearing the term, "butt-noogie" once while riding inner tubes down a white water river. That was this. Only without the buoyancy of the water and inner tube.

Finally I caught up with Lance who had taken us down along a ridge that divided us from the sharp vision of the sheep. Every time I'd look up, Lance was gesturing wildly as if to say "hurry up". Which was exactly what he meant to be saying as he looked back with Jamie by his side, and me some 50 yards behind. 

I finally reached the ridge where Jamie would set up and scope in the sheep of choice. There were three rams feeding in the leafy, feed-rich valley. We were just above them and away by about 200 yards. 

I set the tripod up. And all the aches were gone. I was a little out of breath, but recovered when I saw that we were on the sheep and Jamie, the lucky winner of the sheep draw for area 123 - the only tag of its kind - would either kill this ram and we'd be done, or miss him and we'd do all of this tomorrow.

Lance spotted the sheep and whispered to Jamie. I set my shots so I knew how to get to the sheep they would choose. Nathan... was nowhere to be seen. 

Then following Jamie's scope angle, I saw which one was the likely target. I whispered to Lance for confirmation. And locked in the camera at full zoom at the sheep that was facing away from us.

Jamie fired. The shot missed, blowing a puff of dirt up over the ram's head. The ram turned sideways and cocked his head to look up into the crags where we were sitting. We were at 240 yards. Then Jamie fired again, and the sheep dropped in his tracks.

All of our efforts had paid off. Jamie was all smiles. Nathan appeared over the edge of the last hill. He'd missed the shot, but was proud of his son, a kid that he'd raised on hunting while he was a foster parent, and later adopted. As we took the pictures, we all commented, including Jamie, at the irony of a black kid sitting with one of the most prized white sheep in Alaska. A true contrast.

We hiked out with the meat and head, and will go back today to retrieve our tents and other belongings from the bluff where we left them only a day ago. The hike out was incredibly painful, I honestly didn't know I had it in me to make it. But I discovered more than once yesterday that the human body will go as far as it can go. The brain may scream at it to give up. But the human will to press on can trump them both. It's a remarkable thing. But I pressed beyond my own sense of possibility several times. 

Now we dress for wet weather, and head back to get the tents.