Can you see in the sky rocks like seeds?

These seeds placed in one hundred jars gave birth to one hundred mountains. Truly the Cascades are the earthen counterparts of the Kauravas. Gurgling choking they rose from their clay catacombs and quickly dominated the land. My Southern Sister, both the size of a mountain and a grasshopper, leads her siblings and every year calls forth hundreds willing to stand at a height normally reserved for Krishna. Come now, reveal yourself as you once did to Arjuna!

Slowly, slowly I approached, weighed down by my pack. I used great caution, for the unpredictable peak can turn at any second. From Kali to Shakti she shifts and changes. Left foot right foot left foot right foot. I emerged from the woods and the veil was lifted, leaving me with a clear view of the summit. It’s strange how distance is skewed when it reaches a certain scale. We look from the coast to the edge of the ocean, and think it might be reached with a simple breast stroke. We butterfly, dog paddle, do all we can to tumble over the horizon like a waterfall, but we never plummet.

At last it seemed I was almost there. The final ridge looked like it might be conquered in little more than two steps. One step, two steps, three steps; I suppose it’s farther than I thought. Four steps, five steps, six steps; my concern grew. Upon closer inspection, the scale became evident. Look closely and you’ll see the people like ants. Two steps forward, one step back. The loose lava slid. I felt I was walking up a conveyor belt. My shoes filled with the liquid rock and threatened to prevent my ascent. Above the flowing burning ground my cinder-block feet continued to walk. Slowly, slowly.

Eventually I did reach the mountain’s peak. Looking out I saw the sikhara’s of the neighboring temples. Dig dip enough and we may just burst the swelling garbhabriha. Linga and yoni lie and wait in the depths of the earth. Indeed, the sisters may give birth in due time.*

Up one side, down the other. I descended via the Green Lakes trail and staggered to my camp sight. Having previously abandoned the flesh and experienced the mountain top, my freshly inhabited body felt a terrible burden. My head ached and my stomach churned. I tried to sleep but was impeded by my pounding heart. It seemed every bodily function, from breath to blood, upset my soul. I tossed turned and tumbled through the twilight.

I returned to my car via circumambulation. Skirting the edge of the South Sister I traveled from the Green Lakes to Moraine Lake, and across the Wickiup Plains. I waved a final goodbye as the mountain dropped from sight. But fear not: on a clear day the Sisters can be seen from the summit of Spencer Butte. I salute my friends daily.

*http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/05/photogalleries/100518-mount-st-helens-americas-most-dangerous-volcanoes-science-pictures/#/most-dangerous-volcanoes-united-states-south-sister_20374_600x450.jpg

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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.

Hike 55 Amended

August 18, 2011

Dear Friends, I come to you remorseful and penitent. Intentionally, and for my own means, I distorted reality and further skewed the digital diorama in which I present my hikes. What I previously labeled as Hike 55 was, in fact, little more than a walk on the beach. I did hike that day, though I had no intention of presenting photos. I decided, against my better judgement, to lump together Drift Creek Falls and Dessert, believing that you, my Reader, would be none the wiser.

I now lay before you prostrate, hoping to amend my wrongdoing. We all stand on this ever shifting planet-like-quicksand searching for solid ground. To add yet another layer of uncertainty only quickens the pull of the pit. You have no way of knowing whether the following account is true, but I hope you find in my confession integrity, and believe that I bring to you my understanding of events as they transpired.

I hold no claim on the forest or the trails, and yet I feel invaded when the population of a given hike exceeds a certain level. I chose Drift Creek Falls only because it was near, but recoiled at the sight of a full parking lot. Still, I have in mind a goal and must continue to move forward, lest I slip. With a certain reluctance, I rode the wave of people down the path.

Lines of people, lines of leaves.

Where people go, structures follow. The regular pattern of trees and rocks was soon interrupted by anomalous architecture. Before me stretched a suspension bridge made to bear the burden of heavy traffic.

Shortly following this disconnecting connecter I reached the falls. I’ll forgo the usual obligatory photo of tumbling water. The crowds quickly drove me away, and I stumbled upon a small reptile as I returned. He looked at me, I looked at him. He wore a mournful expression. The lizard said nothing, just gave me a glance. Just gave me a very sad, sad backward glance.

Unless.

I was glad to have hiked, but relieved to escape the growing mob. If nothing else, I delayed the inevitable rolling.