A Day Away

My apologies in advance for the lopsided ratio of photos to words. Sometimes I really believe the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words and it seems oddly redundant to go on and on. 

It’s been a really busy month and somewhere in there spring happened. Not just on the calendar though. Everywhere. I’ve been itching to get out and have a little mountain time. Even though the weekly forecast was rather dismal it looked like Wednesday would offer a break. And that is all I ever need to pack up my faith and patience and head out. 

I was in the car just after 4:30 am with the hope of arriving at Mount St Helens at sunrise. Easy drive at that hour. Fog, clouds and glimpses of sky. Once I turn onto HWY 504 I wouldn’t see another soul (or car) until 11. 

Both viewpoints along the way are buried in snow but the road is clear and dry all the way to the Hummocks trailhead parking lot. I stopped at Coldwater Lake to use the restroom (a reliable pit stop) only to find it locked up with a sign saying the closest available restroom was at Johnston Ridge. What? The road to Johnston Ridge is also buried in snow and gated just beyond Hummocks trailhead. On a good year it opens in late April. Never have I remembered seeing it open in March. Sigh. 

The lake trails were covered in snow and there were more animal tracks than those of boots or snowshoes. Hmmm. With no one around I quickly find a spot, all the while mindful of potential company. 

At the trailhead for Hummocks I am completely alone. After an unfortunate accidental discharge of my bear spray (it works!) I hit the trail. Snow, cornflower blue sky and birdsong all around. I am in heaven. It almost brings me to tears to be in such a magnificent place knowing I am the only person in billions of people on the planet to be enjoying these views in this moment. Filled with gratitude, I move through the snowy woods. Humbled. 

Before I leave I head back to the lake to take one more walk out to the boardwalk. It is surreal the way clouds are reflected in the water. Stunning to be the sole witness on this gorgeous day. I hear a pair of geese squawking up a storm and follow their path along the water. It’s mating season and I witness these two in the water just ahead of me. Both bobbing their heads, dunking in and out of the water, until the male mounts her. It’s fascinating to watch. That goose guy is quite animated and proud in the afterglow. 

My afternoon is spent at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. A few regulars and a few surprises. Always a joy to do this auto tour through the refuge. I don’t get many steps, but I get great exercise for my eyes. 

“Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.”

-Ray Bradbury