This weekend I spent 3 of my 24 hours in Seattle hiking with two friends (one of whom I’m married to). I Googled “Seattle Nature” and found Rattlesnake Ridge, which looked far enough away to feel like an adventure.
I wore the clothes I boarded my plane from DC in, having dressed for hiking Seattle in the dark of the morning in D.C. The walk started out slow and low and easy, with soaring trees and a clear path like I enjoyed in Muir Woods back home:
But the foliage got lighter and furrier, closer to truffala trees than Tolkien’s whispering forests.
As I’d hoped, there was evidence of great geological upsets–a single massive igneous boulder, born of lava and borne by a glacier until it retreated, leaving it to make friends with the moss and the encroaching trees.
The fauna was inspiring too–the banana slugs so sun-deprived they turned black (some were black and yellow, and forever in my mind will be Seattle Steelers Slugs).
When I was so tired and travel weary I reached out my hand behind my hip, in the universal sign for “hold my hand” and Matthew held my fingers and I created things to take photos of to find time to breath, we came upon this. The tops of very tall trees at our feet. We were closer to our destination than my aches had murmured we were.
When we reached the summit, it was clear of foliage and flora. It was a weather-beaten hump, cracked with the slow expanding force of ice and trickling water. Over the edge came to us a view out into the valley, over the lake, to the distant mountains and the nearly perfectly flat tops of thousands of growing trees. The wind pushed us towards the edge and the drop, but we kept back, scooting as close as our warring pride and fear would let us.
Our emotions and the ice-rock contest were not the only battles being waged on Rattlesnake Ridge. The wind and the mist teased and slipped around each other, mist wafting around the demarcated edge and wind shooing it back again, then mist rising in a rough billow and the wind whistling and whirling it into its own half of the world.
With all the talking the wind and water were doing, there wasn’t much for us people up there to say. We mostly looked out over the cliff, across into the blue sky arcing above and the tree-furred earth below.
We never did figure out what made the mists rise so thickly from particular vents in the forrest, leaving others clear and clean. The entire drive up, it looked like collections of farmsteads with warming fires, but so many in so many places which we did not expect to be so occupied lead us to suppose some other, more meteorological, cause for their rising clouds.
But even in so much beauty, some of us were meant for posing. Perhaps because of it, I wanted to make sure I had an image of how I felt, of what I look like in my own head. When I wear my clothes to work, I feel like I’m cosplaying a professional. The Jessica in my head has waist-length braids, jeans, hiking boots, and a t-shirt she can climb trees in.
Days like that one fill me up with the experiences and thoughts and memories that ensure I stay bigger on the inside.
“From way up here,
There time is short
A life is just a day
Must be some better way
To use the time that runs
Among the distant suns”