The air was like Champaign

 – A summer day above the clouds –

 Sometimes there come such days when a whole life seems to run through you within one single day. Everything goes by itself, you just let yourself be carried on and at the end of the day, in blissful exhaustion, you let go and sink down into bed, without a thought, without a review of what happened, but your whole body humming with life. On such days you are not the old perceiver, the one who collects experiences in order to assemble them into a grand story, a story to be reviewed and related to other stories for ever and a day, compulsively, obsessively, and yet in vain, never really satisfied. On such days you are the experience itself, perception itself, life perceiving itself through you, music, you being the instrument, music playing not in you but being played with you.

A magical summer day starting deceptively dreary.

It’s foggy outside, warm but drizzly; water pearls sparkling on the leaves.

We follow our instinct; or is it just mindfully processed past experience, learned reasoning, conditioned projection? We’ve learned to not trust what we see but rather consult with all the other senses. Things are not always as they appear. We drive up in pouring rain, secretly hoping that the mountaintops will be above the clouds.

The fog is thick up there, but it’s drifting and tearing open.

When we start walking on the trail we can already see some blue sky.

It’s still early in the day but more and more sunshine penetrates the fog.

It’s cool and fresh, the air is like Champaign.

We slowly gain enough elevation to leave the clouds below us.

We know the trail by heart; year after year have we walked up here not to see it all again and again but to see again.

The trees are old friends, characters, more rugged the higher we get.

The Lupines are out now and the wild Lilies are blooming for a week or so.

We see a huge bear on one of the upper meadows. Like us the deer keep their distance too.

He looks very healthy, but he doesn’t like our presence.

We quickly say good bye and leave him alone.

Two eagles soaring in the morning air.

The land is breathing and steaming.

All day the clouds linger in the valleys, rising up from the ocean, but we are above them, bathed in sunshine.

Only a few days after the snow is gone the Avalanche Lilies pop up, also only for a week or so.

The Silky Phacelia have just come out on the ridge.

Pearls of water left behind in their embrace.

 * * *

From the ridge we climb up the soaring, lofty east roof of Mt. Angeles. I call it the “Diretissima”: the most direct route up a mountain, disregarding any possible detours on easier terrain. Up this spine of the mountain, following the knife-sharp line and straddling the edge, the wind ruffling our hair, our hands grasping, actually comprehending the coarse suchness of rock better than the mind ever could, our body sensing the wonderful exposure, we feel like the mountain, we become the mountain.

 The ridge below, still snow-covered on the northern side, barely sticking out of the clouds.

Klahane Ridge. A family of white mountain goats – too small to be seen on this picture – playing around on the snow. Our mountain goat friend had been killed down there two years ago. (click here for more)

Clouds churning up and dancing around the distant mountaintops.

While we sit up there for hours, caressed by the sun, feasting on the views the entire peninsula lies under this thick cloud cover all day long, only far out over the ocean it is clear.

Later in this marvelous day – we stay on the summit for hours – it clears up enough so the full grandeur of the Olympics is decked out for us. Mt. Olympus in the distant background, Hurricane Ridge below, Obstruction Point and Grand Ridge behind Parvin.

Back home the lawn is still wet, the house is cold, and I listen to gentle rain in the night.

 Klaus   July 23, 2012

This entry was posted in 2012, Summers and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The air was like Champaign

  1. Sara Boore says:

    Love the water droplets. They always move me. That is a beautiful post, inspiring me – haven’t gone up there yet this year….must go to mountain, must go to mountain, must go……

  2. Jan says:

    That’s beautiful Klaus. Great to see you both looking so well.

  3. Steve says:

    Lovely post, wonderful photos. Thanks for sharing the experience.

  4. Eckart Mildenstein says:

    I am also from Sequim.
    Without knowing him, I have admired a courageous man flying solo over my house several times in a very light contraption (looked like a yard chair).
    I wished I had met Klaus. RIP
    Our condolence!

  5. Selma says:

    This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. I am awestruck…

  6. This takes me back to 1995 when I first climbed Angeles. Just 10 days earlier I was ascending Mt. Rainier, and 6 days earlier I was starting the hike up the Hoh River trail to Mt. Olympus. That exposed direct route I would discover the second time I climbed Mt. Angeles in 1997.

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