Alaska’s a big show off—and rightly so. Her grand landscapes demand attention. But, a tip: now and again, shun her demands. Snag time to take in the tiny details. (Yes, a decent rule for nearly any landscape but some are easier to ignore than others.)
Take, for example, the Dyea Flats. A short drive from Skagway, Dyea was a Gold Rush boomtown. Now, it’s quieter. Much quieter. Since I had just one day to spend in Skagway this go around, I headed straight out to Dyea, stopped at the Slide Cemetery to give my regards to Walter “Chappey” Chapper, a New Yorker who died in the April 3, 1898 avalanche on the Chilkoot Trail, drove down to the flats, and went wandering around. The place never gets tired. I could visit the flats every day and remain head over heels in love.
Since I was at least an hour away from needing more coffee, I decided to take a winding walk along the trails to the campground. (Now that camping is part of my life, checking out campgrounds for future visits has become a favorite hobby.) With my back to the flats and any remnants of the grand view cut off by trees along the trail, I started focusing on the ground beneath my boots. That’s when I noticed the mushrooms. The hunt was on. (Though the hunt was a camera-only affair: some of those fungi looked like they could kill you just by looking at you.)