There is a certain expectancy at this time of day. Light is beginning to materialize behind the black outline of peaks. I don’t often sit here for sunrise, choosing instead to chase the emerging color between Sunrise Point and the visitor center. How often do I miss the best moments altogether, seeking some better version of morning ?
This morning I am sitting in the car, dome light on for light, the heater blowing soft warm puffs into my face. It’s still thirty minutes from sunrise and I’m usually quite antsy by now. Today I abandon the chase in favor of embracing that which lies in front of me. I’m out of the car now. I will experience day breaking through the twilight from this spot on the rock wall.
I see the sun rising in the east. A quick camera pan shows Mt Adams in the pink glow and then the mountain beginning to wear the light like a shawl. The moon is out and bright against the still, deep blue of sky.
(Two years ago I had a most magnificent morning here. It was probably my favorite day so far at the mountain. You can read about that morning here.)
Sigh. Not so much a walk into fire this day as a stroll through flickering embers. I’ll take it. I can feel something rise in me right along with the sun and I make my way to the parking lot and head out on my hike for the day.
The wing beats of the Clark’s Nutcracker sound like the coo of mourning doves from a distance and the whir of a propeller up close. I’m learning to map my mornings with sound and to follow what interests me.
Near the junction at Frozen Lake I run into a man about halfway through his Wonderland Trail backpack. I don’t love everyone I meet on the trail, but I love hikers. Practical equipment, sensible shoes, that knowing twinkle in their eye …
We stop to chat for a moment marveling at our good fortune to be in the shadow of this magnificent mountain. He tells me he is halfway through and though he knows Mt Rainier is the stunning, showy centerpiece of this hike, he has been blown away by the forest. He tells me he knows it sounds cliche’ but that the light in the forest is … magical. He can think of no other word.
I know this too. The way the sun rays beam down through the trees in soft columns of light. It’s quite an ethereal thing. I see it more on hikes like Comet Falls or Summerland or Spray Park, but he will walk near all of these before he is finished and I envy his mornings of light.
In my mind I am already planning my return to Spray Park. While it is lovely in spring, the fall is when it puts on a show. I’ll have to go soon, before the snow. Or maybe just after. To see this place alive with color and a soft dusting of the white stuff is my favorite thing about the season.
For this day, I choose Burroughs Mountain. The last time on this trail it was misty and covered in a layer of clouds as we climbed toward the junction at the top. (It was a special day for Casey and I. You can read about it here) This morning is clear and cool.
I’m still nursing a pulled hamstring and rickety knees that feel both the cold and the elevation. Rest this time of year is not an option, but I can choose wisely how much up and down I will do. It’s gorgeous from Burroughs and I linger, taking it all in.
I choose the Sunrise Rim Trail on my return and I am reminded how much I love this side. Rocky cliffs and a dizzying geological display. There are a few squirrels and a couple pikas but the goats I had hoped to see are elusive. I will take all that has been given me on this day.
In the evening I join the WTA Zoom Celebration of the Hike-a-Thon. It’s a great presentation and wonderful to hear of the miles hiked and the money raised for trails. Over $220,000 this year and the work will continue.
Through my network of family and friends, together we raised over $1,400.00 dollars this year for WTA. I am so grateful to all of you for your support. As a new Hike-a-Thon participant I was also recognized last night for having the greatest number of new donors, 25 ! That’s all you. Thank you so very much.
This morning is a day of rest and relative quiet. I was thinking of this poem this morning and mentally adding to it, the silence of a hot bath and light pouring in from the skylight … Life is good.
THE QUIET MACHINE
I’m learning so many different ways to be quiet. There’s how I stand in the lawn, that’s one way. There’s also how I stand in the field across from the street, that’s another way because I’m farther from people and therefore more likely to be alone. There’s how I don’t answer the phone, and how I sometimes like to lie down on the floor in the kitchen and pretend I’m not home when people knock. There’s daytime silent when I stare, and a nighttime silent when I do things. There’s shower silent and bath silent and California silent and Kentucky silent and car silent and then there’s the silence that comes back, a million times bigger than me, sneaks into my bones and wails and wails and wails until I can’t be quiet anymore. That’s how this machine works.
Amen to the quiet*