I saw it first on the slopes of a peak, the cleanliness of a sunrise. There is something remarkable fresh the start of a new day, when one wakes outside, the chill crawls through the bones, but for reasons unknown you’re not cold. You see the heat of sun, beautifully welcoming. I can hear the energy of morning, like making fist in your ears, the rumblings of all this spinning on an axis. Through my eyes the world in which I know lays before me in a series of climatic elevations, flat expanses and watery abyss. The gravity of my life hangs here in the balances like the harmony of nature. Tender and reclusive, it is my deepest thoughts that are furthest from the flesh, but first in mind. The fragility of all I hold close are left to be weathered by the actions I take in life. Surrounded by old growth cedars and giant ferns, soft bedding of needles and pine cones litter the forest floor. I rise up winding my way through open fields and scattered remains of years before. The flora and fauna changes with altitude, the higher I get the tougher the plant and deeper the root. I share a similarity with the landscape, the beauty of all this gets lost in what isn’t said, and can’t explain when asked to. Something deeper beneath the soil and bedrock giving life where none should be, but somehow seek out existence in the meekest of places, standing proudly alone defying the odds.
At the head of a massive river, stuck between two great water sheds all this energy is forced through a notch set in stone. The outcome is a powerful jetting of water shooting out forty feet and falling down to punish the washed bones of earth. Some miles later it rolls wide and deep, over smaller rocks and sand, through the legs of old fishermen and under the belly of dogs. The sharp edges of quartz protrude awkwardly and glisten in the spray of the water fall. Fools gold legend has told, but then only fools would be here in the harshest of country. Beneath my feet are compressed gems and mineral laden veins leading to fortunes untold, along the cliffs and bluffs iron ore deposits streak down the mountain side like rust rolling down an old ford. It is a dingy image of geologic infrastructure that compose natures wonders.
I stand alone at the highest place this path has to offer, it’s a comforting feeling when there is nothing above you any longer. My shoulders relax from the weight of a pack, and I look out into the vastness. I imagine all those who’ve stood here before me hundreds of years ago when all this was first being discovered. Iron men who worked the railroad and logged the massive cedars and carted them out by horse. The strength of their character has stood against time and traces of them are still around, in the forms of massive deformed steel slowly bending and rotting into the ground. I sit on a huge log, and look down and see them. Wollen shirts and pants, meticulous logging boots, telling extended stories of women and war. Accents of their youth still heavy in tongue, they draw out words and exaggerate lies. I smile now as I realize I would fit in with the crew, heavy hands eating lunch and looking out on the same land as me. Only through my eyes is it no longer enough for a man just to work, especially the land.
It’s an amazing feeling when one is connected to the immobile, not to take from it but share a story and listen to theirs. Intently I watch and feel and try to let it scar me to memory, the images and thoughts I want for a lifetime. The sweat rolls down my forehead and dabs the ground as I bend over to pick up some rocks and to my surprise and delight, huckleberries. I look around for a swimming hole, but soon realize the dog is better suited than I, so I stand as still as possible and let him do the work. And sure enough within a half mile he’s struck gold. A small mountain lake with snow on a corner edge, surrounded by glacier lillys, buttercups and what I call pucker brush. The brightness of all things living give off a parade of color. The water is breath-taking cold, but at this elevation the sun doesn’t have far to travel before the rays prove too much for the body to handle. I lay on a large piece of what appears to be abcidian stone, naked and drip drying in the heat of the day with nothing on but shoes. I can see waves left by giant glaciers when they receded across this land, massive rivers once hundreds of feet deep covered nobs of smaller mountains and swallowed up everything underneath, records of the greatest flood of all man kind. What an image if someone was to walk up behind, a naked man in old tennis shoes, hands on top of his head stretched out for the wold to see. But giving the effort it took to get here I know I’m alone.
There really is no end, only a continuem. I have foraged, cooked, and created fire, and now enjoying a canned beverage of modern technology,while making smores. With beer breath and marshmallow burning on my chin, under the partially clouded hour of night, the wind rakes at my back and blows my wrappers into the fire. The smoke lifts, dances left and then swaze back my way. Like a belly dancer teasing me, but not touching, I lean back and watch as it enters the stratosphere and hazes for a moment my view of the stars. The dog is tired now and believes there is nothing left to chase or harm decides it’s time to lay across my abdomen and paw at the desert in my hand and on my pants. I stare into the fire for what seems like hours. The embers and coals glow, grow black, pop and sizzle. Without needing the shelter of a bivy or tent, I wouln’t want the added security anyway obstructing the reality. I place a handgun under my pack and close to me, this is bear and cougar country after all. Chubbs smuggles against me and we listen now only to the song of wind and the dying of fire, no doubt like always when I awake fresh burn holes will cover bag and pack, but it all adds to story when I see them hanging at home and always to remember where they came from and allow for a minute, reflections of moments and pictures in my mind.
I awoke before sunrise and watched my darken world bending around into the birth of sunlight. I climbed to the highest rock outcropping I could find and sat with my back resting on a piece of darken granite. In the warmth of my sleeping bag and bedding, swallowing gulps of black sludge and sugar brightening my eyes I was set for the movie of sunrise. All things being were about to be awaken and warmed by the ethereal sun, I watched as the first finger tips of rays stretched out and light up swathes of earth. Then the full hand of sun came and reassured all things beneath it. In my time on the ocean it was one of my favorites. Riding the inside passage, waking at two or three in the morning and taking my turn at the wheel. Guiding the boat through the maze of islands, dead heads and herds of kelp. With the generator and main rumbling in the ungodly hours, trying to pry my eyes to stay open, stuffing my face with anything that resembles food or caffeine. The ocean turns to glass, and there is a moment, not long before sunrise and the death of night. Minutes till the world begins to lighten and still in the hold of the day before, the expanse opens. You turn off the generator because you no longer need the lights or the added jolt of coffee. Reach to your right, flick the toggle switches of running lights and one by one you un arm the boat of any artificial help of light. The water brightens up before the land, almost like the sunrise is following the hem of a dress. Mist hovers just above the water, the only ripples are off the hull of the boat, the diesel engine fires off in a relaxing hum pushing us closer to home, and in this melodic moment hope is born new. The warmth splashes across your face and the ocean turns to a mix of green, purple, blue, orange and red, truly one of the most beautiful things I was ever to see. Standing on the bow, completely alone, not another soul for hundreds of miles, your work almost done, brisk air surrounds your face and cuts through cotton clothing and chills your spin, but in this brief respite of moment, eyes widen to see life begin. The splash of birds and circular ribbons of fish rising to breakfast, there is no nervousness only perfection.
I knew now that I should be going, but the pull of all this kept me planted in the warmth of gore-tex and synthetic down. What took me two days going up now had to be done in a day. But I knew the longer I procrastinated the more effort it was going to take to make it in the light of day. I made sure I ate as much as I could handle, loaded a few new rocks to the piles, turned back one last time and looked into the eyes of what I could see, the painting laid before me outside my bones and skin looked surreal to me, oceans of mountains far to beautiful than letters of words could say. There is no goodbye or somber moments if done right, only a waiting and yearning to see and do again, an understanding that you gave all you had and took only great things away, left with gratitude and love is all anyone should have in life. It is all things not said and done that drive the complacent, empty live’s breed depression suffocating optimism and hope. I have been all these things and still don’t understand.
I have no idea where the rest of this will go, but here you go~J.