Seeing Nature

Doodling means time apart, a mental space empty of plans and expectations.  It feels good to have pauses like this in the day.

“Unknowing makes it possible for anything and everything to happen, to just pop up.  When we don’t know, when we have no expectations or fixed ideas about something, then everything that happens at any given moment is just what’s happening.”
— Bernie Glassman, Bearing Witness: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace

“As soon as we know something, we prevent something else from happening.  When we live in a state of knowing, rather than unknowing, we’re living in the fixed state of being where we can’t experience the endless unfolding of life, one thing after another.  Things happen anyway — nothing ever remains the same — but our notions of what should happen block us from seeing what actually does happen.”
— Bernie Glassman, Bearing Witness: A Zen Master’s Lessons in Making Peace

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Sunrise at Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park

Sunrise at Sunrise, Mount Rainier National Park

We continued our exploration of national parks with a road trip to Mount Rainier.  We had to hit the road at 4:30 a.m. in order to arrive at Sunrise for the sunrise at 6:50 a.m.  Our timing was perfect, and we pulled into the Sunrise viewpoint with two minutes to spare!

Sunrise at Sunrise

Sunrise at Sunrise

View of Mount Adams in the distance

View of Mount Adams in the distance

We breakfasted with a picnic in the brisk, clear air — hard-boiled eggs, small tomatoes, pre-cooked bacon, cheese slices, rice crackers, mango juice.  Snow-capped Mount Rainier loomed over our picnic table.  Then we drove to the Naches Peak Loop Trailhead where we stepped out for an early morning hike.

“I could walk forever with beauty.  Our steps are not measured in miles but in the amount of time we are pulled forward by awe.”
— Terry Tempest Williams, The Hour of Land

Here are some photos from the trail:

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Reflection of Mount Rainier in Tipsoo Lake

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Dewey Lake in the distance

Dewey Lake in the distance

And finally, we ended our visit to Mount Rainier with a gondola ride up Crystal Mountain where we had lunch at the Summit Restaurant.  We sat on the outside patio in the blazing sun so that we could enjoy the view.

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Summit of Crystal Mountain

Summit of Crystal Mountain

Gray jays

Gray jays

Mount Rainier from the Summit Restaurant at Crystal Mountain

Mount Rainier from the Summit Restaurant at Crystal Mountain

Our visit to Mount Rainier National Park was about as perfect as we could have wished.

 

 

“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books.”
— John Muir

The view from Artist's Point, the terminus of the Mount Baker Highway

The view from Artist’s Point, the terminus of the Mount Baker Highway

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
— John Muir

My home in Seattle is well situated to heed the call of the mountains.  To the west lie the snow-capped Olympic Mountains and the Cascades lie to the east.  On my wish list of things to do this summer was to return to Artist’s Point at the end of the Mount Baker Highway.  I had been there just once before in September 2012 (you can see my blog posts about that trip here and here and here and here), and I was now again feeling its call.  So when I read that the final stretch of the 57-mile Mount Baker Highway had been cleared of snow and was open for the summer season, I filled my car with gas, picked up my friend Carol to accompany me, and headed out.

The landscape looked quite different in early July compared to my previous late-season September visit.  It was less colorful (no oranges and reds) and most of the trails were still covered with snow.  This visit was beautiful in its own way.

Mount Shuksan seen from the shores of Picture Lake

Mount Shuksan seen from the shores of Picture Lake

Miniature sub-alpine lilies

Miniature sub-alpine lilies

Sub-alpine plant

Sub-alpine plant

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“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”
— John Muir

Our first stop was Picture Lake.  We walked the trail around this tiny sub-alpine lake, listening to the sound of the meltwater all around, and marveling at the majestic Mount Shuksan dominating the scene.  When we continued our drive to the road’s end, we started gaining elevation more rapidly, and soon we were dwarfed by snowbanks on either side of the car.

Snowbanks along the Mount Baker Highway

Snowbanks along the Mount Baker Highway

Hairpin bends in the road

Hairpin bends in the road

At Artist’s Point, we were the only visitors.  The primary view onto Mount Baker was hidden in clouds, but there were visual rewards in other directions.  Occasional breaks in the clouds gave us short peeks of brilliant blue.  Low skeins of clouds set off the surrounding peaks like gauzy scarves on the shoulders of haughty models.  The sun broke through to warm our faces as we relaxed into the solitude of this spot.  Solitude.  But not silence.  The sound of the melting snow all around was almost as steady and loud as the drone of freeway traffic in our Seattle homes.

View from the parking area at Artist's Point

View from the parking area at Artist’s Point

Certain views gave me the feeling of being in an Arctic landscape

Certain views gave me the feeling of being in an Arctic landscape

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.  As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.”
— John Muir, from Our National Parks

We made one more stop at Heather Meadows before the long drive home.  Parts of the trails were still snow-blocked, but we wandered as far as we could, enjoying the views of distant lakes nestled like jewels in the cleavage of the surrounding mountains.

View from Heather Meadows

View from Heather Meadows

Patterns of shadows in the snow

Patterns of shadows in the snow

Better than a cartload of books?  Yes, I do have to agree that experiencing the mountains directly gave a deeper satisfaction than reading about them.  Reading comes a close second, though.  But together, words and visual memories give the deepest joy.

 

 

 

Not Done with My Changes

April 19, 2016

Ribbons of tulips, layers of colors

Ribbons of tulips, layers of colors

Cascade Mountains

Cascade Mountains

Layers of blue fabric

Layers of blue fabric

The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz, from Bill Moyers Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel in heavy wings.
Oh, I have made a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

 

“The mountains are calling and I must go.”
— John Muir

Looking out at the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Looking out at the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

My niece is visiting from Israel, and her top sightseeing priorities are some of the American national parks.  So we took a two-day, 500-mile road trip circumnavigating Olympic National Park in Washington State.  You can get to different parts of the park from inroads along Hwy 101, and our destinations offered extraordinary natural diversity, from mountains, to rain forests, to ocean beaches.

Our first stop was Hurricane Ridge high in the Olympic Mountains.  But first we crossed the Sound in a ferry, and then drove through some pretty amazing scenery just to get to the winding road that would take us from sea level to nearly a mile in elevation at Hurricane Ridge.

Field of daisies near Sequim, WA

Field of daisies near Sequim, WA

"I see the wild flowers, in their/summer morn/Of beauty, feeding on joy's/lucious hours."  -- John Clare, from "Summer Images"

“I see the wild flowers, in their/summer morn/Of beauty, feeding on joy’s/luscious hours.” — John Clare, from “Summer Images”

Old ruin along Hwy 101 near Sequim

Old ruin along Hwy 101 near Sequim

The winding road to Hurricane Ridge

The winding road to Hurricane Ridge

The view from Hurricane Ridge is awesome, with majestic, snow-capped peaks as far as the eye could see.  We ate a picnic breakfast amidst some of the most spectacular scenery anywhere, joined by a curious (and smart, crumb-seeking) bird.  The meadows at the top were beginning to emerge from snowfields, and they were covered with tiny yellow flowers.

Parking lot at Hurricane Ridge

Parking lot at Hurricane Ridge

Mountain view

Mountain view

Picnic breakfast

Picnic breakfast

Avian friend

Avian friend

Snow-capped peaks

Snow-capped peaks

Melting snow

Melting snow

Scavenging raven (lovely feathers)

Scavenging raven (lovely feathers)

Motorcycle riders (I rarely go to a national park without seeking motocyclists)

Motorcycle riders (I rarely go to a national park without seeing motorcyclists)

My next post will be a continuation of our road trip. . . stay tuned!

Mountains and Good Tidings

November 8, 2012

Cascade Mountains near Leavenworth, WA

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.  Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.  The winds will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off you like falling leaves.”
— John Muir, Nature Writings

Restoration on the mountainside

I saw my first mountains when I was 19 on a road trip to Colorado with my parents.  Now I live in Seattle, and (when it is not too cloudy) I can see the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains on the western horizon, the Cascade Mountains to the east, and mighty Mount Rainier to the southeast.  I love being surrounded by mountains.  They make me feel uplifted.

 

 

The Olympic Mountains viewed from Phinney Ridge in Seattle

Olympic peaks emerging in the morning light

Betty MacDonald, in The Egg and I, gives some of the best descriptions of the Olympic Mountains, which frame our view to the West:

“These Olympics have none of the soft curves and girlish plumpness of Eastern mountains.  They are goddesses, full-breasted, broad-hipped, towering and untouchable.  They are also complacent in the knowledge that they look just as mountains should.”

“I’d rush outdoors just as the first little rivulets of pale pink began creeping shyly over the mountains.  These became bolder and brighter until the colors were leaping and cascading down the mountains and pouring into the pond at the foot of the orchard.  Faster and faster they came until there was a terrific explosion of color and the sun stood on top of the mountains laughing at us.  The mountains, embarrassed at having been caught in their night dresses rosy with sleep, would settle back with more than their accustomed hauteur, profiles cold and white against the blue horizon.”