BODY & MIND

Survival of the butchest: A gay man's Alaskan migration

Photo Credit: Clark Harding
I sure felt weak after a week of tromping through Denali. Staying in Ranger cabins, we weren't even technically camping. But the outhouses were getting old. I was sick of drinking purified stream water. "It's just up ahead," claimed my Sigourney Weaver of a mother, pushing through the grassy, alien landscape. We were now on some social trail packed down by various species. Like humans, all animals prefer the easier route. "There it is!" she pointed. I looked off in the distance. Through the neck-high alders stood out a bright shard of bleached white. We plowed ahead as the trail widened into a small meadow. There in the center was the most unique artifact I'd ever seen: two moose skulls, their wracks interlocked. The top wrack measured 72 inches across, the bottom a smaller 64 inches. Years ago, these once-live bulls butted heads, a territorial disagreement turned deadly. I looked closer to notice the smaller moose had stabbed the eyeball of the larger, older one; the sissy standing up. As if two stereotypes collided into Siamese twins of death.

"Maybe they were lovers," I suggested. My mom furrowed her brow, unaware that I had previously been counting sheep. She chose to ignore my comment by pointing out the other signs of life. "This may seem tragic," Mom interpreted, "but death in nature benefits everyone else." Apparently packs of wolves, bears and birds were seen simultaneously dining on delicious moose venison, picking it to the bone. A rare species interaction with all the animals from the park gathered to feast harmoniously together.