Elevate Me, Hike 56

August 21, 2011

Sea level.

Too low! Up up up is where I belong. I began among the ocean trees and devilish durians and followed the Cascade Head Nature Conservancy Trail as it steadily rose to a more comfortable altitude.

The indolent hours of vacation had taken their toll. I climbed and climbed, afraid of staying on the ground for too long despite the weary trek. My wings were wilting in the salty air and the buoyant water did little to lift the dead weight of my atrophied limbs. Climb the rocks, climb the dirt, climb the trees. Brittle bones, maintain your structure! There was no time for snapping breaking crunching. The trail needed to be conquered if my strength was to be regained.

Relief! I emerged from the woods.

I met with quiet disdain from the local ladybugs. I was an intrusion. Do not worry, friends; I’ll soon be gone.

The wide meadows opened like a curtain and the waves would have drown me if not for the height. The puzzle-piece shore met the curving wall of water. Teeth and hips, hips and teeth; the world is a body. Higher, higher! Ocean rocks. Higher, higher! Roving river.

The velvet undergrowth cushioned me as it did the growing stalks. I lay down in the grass to rest my head, as the stems reached higher. I slept, they grew. I must have returned home at some point, but I can’t recall.

“A guy goes nuts if he ain’t got nobody.”*

And so it is that I embarked on a trip not alone, but with a companion. We both, by accident or design, had time off of work on the same day. I had hoped to be able to bring not a prioress, but rather my sister by blood, on one of my expeditions, but we have on several occasions had conflicts of schedule. Finally we experienced constructive rather than destructive interference and, instead of canceling, grew in amplitude.

Together we set out, appropriately, towards Sisters and returned to Alder Springs. Though I had been there before, I was able to see the world through a new pair of eyes. A wish was no longer just a wish, but rather a pappus. Every plant had a name, every part of the anatomy a purpose. The fields full of horsetails were topped by strobilus and the communing apiaceae were exposed for the many-headed creatures they were. Names bring the world to life. Rather than a loose association of weeds, the individuality of each plant sprang forth and vied for my attention.

Summer has marched on in this arid environment and many of the flowers that once were are no longer. I encountered an old friend perusing the umbels, having been forced to abandon the other withering blooms.

We early reached the campsite, but hurried on, hoping to find the end of the maintained trail. I tried to do so on my last visit, though the rain became an unbreachable wall and forced me to retreat. The dark threatened, but still we pressed ever onward towards a potentially disappointing conclusion. Though the destination proved to be far from disappointing, it was the ever-changing landscape that made the trek worthwhile. Plants, rocks, life, death, spirits; birds, bugs, fire, water, dirt; diversity reigned.

The night concluded with an abbreviated game of scrabble in our tent. Meaningless words left abandoned without context accumulated on the board. We hadn’t the energy to question a single one. In the dark the world went on without us. Insects crawled and flew and ate and thought. The trip may have bled into the next day, or it may have ended that night; it’s hard to say. I’ll leave you with the world as it was that evening. The following day was inconsequential. We were too focused on returning to the comfort of the car to think much of the world around us. Let it stay black.

*John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men)

Water mud trail grass socks.

A glimpse of things to come.

Shelter dark sky trees covering my hatted head.

Umbrella every step.

Please protect the insects from the drops as large as grand. Washed away they’ll find themselves too lost in moss.

Don't move, little one.

Words are swept and swirled by the torrent. Irretrievable, I must compose with what is left.

Rain

Rain

Go Away

The Hike is Hard

The Sky is