“Beautifully lost” I thought to myself, hiking through trackless old growth in a drizzling murk, as Swainsen’s & Varied thrushes called out in the wild cathedral. But not lost in a specific sense; somewhere beneath my boots, under several feet of snow was the trail, as long as I minded the map and that mystical needle pointing red toward the north.
Despite the spanking 4400’ of gain this trail dishes out, I love its narrow, intimate, and soft mossy margins. And of course the forest…! Snow began in earnest at about 4200’. The avy slope is partly clear having released to bare ground. The upper slopes are steep and deep with snow; passage without an ice axe is insanity. I ascended my preferred timbered ridgeline route which sticks close to the north cliff face. Snow consolidation was variable; glide cracks and spruce traps presented some difficulty. Climbing was a full-body effort. Bodhran, my faithful companion, was a good sport and hauled his load valiantly.
After 4 hours of toil there was no more up, save for the stairway to our warm & dry bedroom-in-the-sky. We planned to stay 3 nights, Friday through Monday. I was particularly excited about catching the new moon, which means good stars! Meanwhile, it drizzled merrily the rest of the day so I went to bed early for much needed sleep.
I awoke at 1:30 to a magical transformation; the stratus deck hovered about 500’ below the summit and a galactic glow above. It motivated me to dress and descend to the snow for some star shots. The result was worth it; the only thing better than planetary beauty itself is capturing a bit of it in an image and taking it home (otherwise stars and mountains make lousy houseguests). I think this poem fits nicely with the star image:
Coot and the Quiet- William Pitt Root
Most of my adventures
was of the quiet sort
Like noticing one night
how my old cedar dipper
was as full of stars
as water. Then I drank.
A man inside four walls
all his natural life
cannot drink stars.
Even the full moon
can’t touch his sleep
with the dream the likes
of which only a creature
knows, a creature touched
with what is
that lights up a man’s skull
like a fire lights up a cave
I worked on the structure to earn my keep. If puttying windows is a lost art; I think I can safely say that I found some of it! Otherwise it was siesta, solitude, birdsong, and distant water sounds, all in the Bright Hush of the N. Cascades. Saturday & Sunday were sunny, but the NWS withdrew some of its optimism for Monday, so I packed up to descend as clouds rolled in about mid-afternoon. I’ll not grumble though; it was a fat banquet of stars, snow, silence, & sunshine. The hike out was harder on the legs than the climb; the pounding descent has me walking around like the Tin Man today.
Plenty of time to ponder the circularity of “mountains make the drainages make the mountains make the…” And so it is, like a serpent swallowing its tail. Beautifully lost I say…
Thanks for the welcome Magellan. I've been following your contributions for awhile; time to dive in. I formerly posted at WTA for years; this site seems to offer a more dynamic forum for wider sharing.
That picture is just fcking amazing. I went there 3 times last summer only to have to turn back twice because of lightening, hail, steep, dangerous snow, etc, until I finally got to the lookout. My pics don't even compare to that one of the night sky.
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