Way up in the Wastach Mountains

Andrew Nemethy’s recent hiking trip and whatever else to Utah produced a message exchange between us. (Andrew, Rob Dewitt, and i shared forward officer’s quarters on our first ship, the USS Hawkins (DD 873) a long time ago). Our exchange made me decide to post this poem  again about my Utah experience.

Way up in the Mountains

way up in the Wasatch mountains,
where snow covered the Mormon pretense
one hundred, fifty years or so ago;
passages to the west were few
except in the warm months;
only the hardy would climb so high
with mules, packs, jerky, coffee
to mine the silver,
hunt the plentiful game
in the cold deep white of the mountain.

now the heights are a playground,
cleared groomed slopes skied down after
rides up the mechanized chair
where hunters and miners
persevered in the hard months,
now playtime in the rockies
for the masses.
the old town street running up and down
the hill called Main
was general store, haberdashery,
gin mill, assayer,
probably a red light house or two,
amidst the good, lord abiding citizens;
pizza joints butted against
boutiques, fashion salons,
restaurants with high cost haute cuisine;
only the Empress Theater and saloons
bear some resemblance to their former selves:
instead of grimy miners
swigging down the swill,
home brew out of pails,
rot gut whiskey.
now movie stars,
dressed to the nines
sipping wine
at the festival of cinema
named after an outlaw;
town and tourist drunks
drinking the trendy micro brews.

Still, in the quiet after a late winter storm,
there are tracks
of rabbit, mountain goat, even elk,
if one dares to climb so high.

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