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Resurrection River Trail

By Sean Ulman

So many choices when it comes to choosing which trail to hike.

Or write about.

            Res River Trail was the first hike we checked out upon moving to Seward. It was sunny, early September. I was depressed. My new iridescent residence on Res Bay couldn’t rouse me. I was even working on a novel. Writing out of it typically did the trick. But while blue-bird days stacked, I remained a dumpy lump, not kneaded/un-risen dough. Shadowed.

            My wife and I took a drive down Herman Leirer Rd., gazed at Exit Glacier, ducked into the river-side woods, signed our names in the trail register. We picked blueberries. Heard and saw Steller’s Jays. I wrote a poem about that walk – ‘Blues Blued by Nature’s Blues’. The idea behind the words was nature got the blues too. I got bored with that particular bout of pout. Enough was enough. Res River trail was the scene of that upswing.

            When I picture its path, which snakes and banks, rolls rather than climbs, I feel rain. I see the trail, in either shoulder season, faded in grays. In the woods in the rain feels good. The sound, pat-patting my slicker’d shoulders, plopping pops on the nearby river.

            A good early season mountain biking trail, Res River returns me to places that resemble my childhood daydreams.

            To reach Marten Creek cabin one has to cross a churning river. Petrified, I’ve tight roped a slick log. I’ve also waded thigh-high, the cold seizing hold. On one trip in, two miles before the creek, the woods were flooded. Gray water covered our boots and tree roots. A sunken forest. Iced feet. The cabin a well-earned oasis. Deep in the shadowed spruce. Bucking boughs, bow-sawing firewood, thinking of one-day connecting to Cooper Landing; a moose in the nearby muskeg.

           After the third bridge, there’s a miner’s trail up a mini ridge. Such a neat side chute that brings you to a boggy meadow. That can connect to Lost Lake country. That unique loop often tempts.

           We filmed a short video for our Bird Babylonia Series on the set of Res River. Me in a red sweater and lederhosen racing around looking for birds like Crocodile Steve did with reptiles. In ‘Biking and Birding’ my friend cameras me riding across a bridge, crashing into devil’s club. Psyched up for the filmed stunt, I forgot to put on the sweater! In take-2 I bounced out of the thorned shrubbery to declare, “Biking and Birding, there is no either or. When you’re biking, you’re birding. When you’re birding, you’re biking. Believe it or not. But always wear helmet…”

         Good memories. The earthen-ramped bridges. The brush. The birds. On that sloshy trek in the flooded forest, like walking in a children’s book, I stopped to watch a family of three-toed woodpeckers. For a while. I chirped like a raven. They didn’t mind a mote.

            On this chosen trail one can find Blackpoll Warbler and Northern Waterthrush. I’ve heard one, seen neither. But the chance to see or hear a gem bird is better than finding it. Is it not?

      One May we tried the trail too early. Not far in, snow stopped us. And right there lay a dead eagle. Bold. Close up, its bill and talons, so yellow. The color before Yellow had a label. Several coats of paint. It didn’t feel right to look at the sky champion like that. 

      When we get stumped thinking of where to hike, one of us will suggest Res River and the code is cracked.

       Two springs ago, I recall trying it on a rainy day with the kids, 6 and 3. They charged it. We went further than expected. The flowy lowland trail reeled them in like it had us 15 years ago.

          What about my parents? I want them to have hiked whichever trail I choose to write about. Have they walked Res River Trail? Listened for birds with us? Probably. Can’t quite recall. The mountain trails were too steep. Rolly Res River would’ve worked. I remember going to the glacier with them…        

            I’ll ask my Dad. It may dawn upon him when he edits this essay. 

            And my mom. 

            She is Me.

            Here in my heart. And our kids’ stock.

            Every step we ever took.


Sean Ulman (author)

-Art by Liza McElroy

Sean Ulman wrote the novel “Seward Soundboard” (Cirque Press). He is the editor of Trail Mix Journal. Please email him (seanulman@gmail) if you are interested in contributing a piece to this project.