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A Line of White Dots

November 10, 2012

Two summers ago, I went on the Yukon tour led by Tony Greenfield.  We travelled on the Dempster highway from Dawson City to Inuvik.  Most of the Dempster is built on tundra.  On the way, we crossed three mountain ranges.  We had seen a few mountain sheep previously so I knew they were in the area.

We stopped along side one mountain.  Tony set up his telescope and scanned the mountain side looking for gyrfalcon nests.  They are visible as a white stain on the cliff face.  Tony is a renowned birder.  Many of the people on the tour were also birders.  I’m not in that category.

While he was doing this, unsuccessfully I might add, I looked down the road to the next mountain.  It was bare rock except for a streak of vegegation.  I saw a row of white dots, slowly moving.  Already I was amazed that I could see such a thing.  I’d had cataract surgery on both eyes a few months earlier.  Before that,  I had been strongly myopic.  I wore glasses as long as I can remember.  Lately these were bifocals.  I only removed my glasses to see something really close up, just beyond the end of my nose.  With my new lens implants I have 20-20 vision without glasses.  I still wear glasses, but these have only a slight correction in one eye plus bifocal lenses for reading.

When I pointed out those white dots to the others, with great excitement, nobody else could see them.  “Follow my finger” didn’t work.  When I described where to look according to landmarks on the mountain side, some of them could see them.  Finally, Tony pointed his telescope at them.  With that, the white dots resolved into white animals with heads and legs.  We all took turns watching them through the telescope.  There were nine animals in that group.

I must congratulate my eye surgeon for his excellent work.  I went from a cloudy distorted vision to one that could pick out a line of white dots on a distant mountain side.

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