PCT Day 131: White Pass
I wake a few minutes before my 5 am alarm–is there a worse feeling in the world?–vaguely aware of something crashing around in the woods to my right. Grudgingly, I get out of my tent and start the day. (Christopher, who walked into the woods to pee, discovered the crashing came from a herd of elk just beyond our campsite, and told me about it later.)
Sunrise sets the sky on fire as I walk up and away from Hidden Spring. I don’t get the full picture, as there are tons of fir trees in the way, but I can see enough of the burnished coin rising behind the mountains to satisfy my hunger for beautiful things. Up atop a ridge, by Shoe Lake–its U-bent surface shining silver–I am ensconced in heavy gray fog, the kind that lets me know that I am in Washington for sure. It’s stark; it’s beautiful. Somewhere behind it all is Mount Rainier, and a line of much shorter peaks to go with it.
All of this–the booming majesty of the mountains and valleys, the dazzling lightshows of sunrise and sunset–suggest to me a universe that *wants* to be paid attention to, one that is on some level aware that by happy accident it has spat out a creature capable of awe, capable of wonder. I have not heard of elk who can be moved to tears by beauty (I’m not even sure they have tear ducts), I doubt the existence of squirrels or chipmunks who take time to look for shooting stars. It is just us, and that is both empowering and incredibly humbling.
I am still very unsure about the larger religious questions but I do know that however we got here, I’m glad we did it with hearts and minds that are so richly capable of feeling.