Superbowl? May the best team win. I went hiking instead, and I think that
The Gorge was overcast in the morning as I drive past Multnomah Falls, but the clouds began to tatter as I arrived at
I'd been looking for solitude, but hiking with Kevin was pleasant enough.
Penny Postcard: Submerged Forest in the
The 1940 book "
There’s certainly no escaping the wind on
After a quick rest, Kevin and I walked to the eastern talus, where clouds swirled and filled the valley between
I cracked open my celebratory beer, and sat down on a rock, enjoying the interplay between sun and cloud, river and mountain, the thin works of man clinging to the river’s shores while pine-clad slopes and rocky cliffs towered a mile above the highways and rail tracks. Against the distance, the traffic on the highway appeared to make no progress, and in front of me were four or five vision pits, updateable and who knows how old, that had withstood the elements on top of an old volcano, and that had harbored the coming of visions and the appearance of spirit guardians who lived lives equally as long as their ward’s.
Kevin left to start down the trail, and for the next hour I sat with the vision pits dappled with sunlight. I walked around over the talus, seeing the slope and the pits and the distant mountains change in the light. I felt as if my own vision had grown sharper – at one point, I thought of my friend who I’d left my itinerary with; my very next thought was that the talus was unstable and that I needed to be careful about loose rock that could shift and twist an ankle. Immediately after that thought, a rock shifted under my foot and I nimbly stepped away. I can’t put too much stock in prophecy, but it happened just like that, and I went back to meditating on the view.
When the clouds rose up again, I wandered around and investigated the patterns of lichen and moss on the rocks and twigs of a small vine maple. Like the vehicles on the highway far below, tiny worlds exist in shades of burnt orange, bright green, silvery gray - in the miniscule, strange and alien life-forms parliament together on twigs no thicker than a pencil, or on the shaded face of a rock. In a space barely a third of an inch across, life blooms in unusual forms, and I imagined it to be an alien city, or an Alice in Wonderland theme park missing the caterpillar (who is out back smoking a joint and taking photos of very small things).
I never looked at my watch, but driven by some inner chronometer, at some point I grabbed my pack, did a quick check for accidentally dropped garbage or gear, and headed back towards the first viewpoint, now dim through a veil of cloud. The upper half of the mountain remained wrapped in cloud as I descended, feeling the strain on my knees grow as I entered sunshine tumbling through the forest halfway down.
As is usual for me, the climb had been a physical exertion, with my focus more on myself then on my surroundings. On the descent, the forest captured my attention, with mossy trees standing over deep green coils of fern, sharp Oregon grape, and jumbled talus slopes. The sun burst through at odd times, and the forest responded with a symphony of browns and greens and darting yellows. I walked through a cathedral of firs, the trail my guide and the sun leading the way.
I cut off the main trail at a very steep spur-trail that lead down to an outcrop with great views east to Augsberger and