This definitely wasn’t right. My teeth grit and I zip my jacket up my neck. The path has vanished, there are no footprints to be found and the sand is all-too soft where it had been blown about and left to settle. Looking straight ahead, my beam disappears. While the headlamp light is no less than voraciously being gobbled up by black as I descend Mt. Hood, I think, well well well…isn’t this quite embarrassing. Counting my blessings for a) the temperature rising; b) the stash snacks in my bag (always with the snacks); and c) a considerable lack of bears lurking in this landscape, I crane my head back and for the first time look directly up and shudder: I can count every star, and every constellation I didn’t realize I knew. The notion of being so tiny, and so quite alone, magnifies as I mull the obvious: yeah man, that Big Dipper is really fucking Big.
Back up to go back down. Don’t zig when you can zag, yes, and trail picks back up after some off-roading and I settle into a bar stool down at the Timberline Lodge of ‘The Shining’ fame (every bit as astoundingly creepy as you can conjure while you read this). The moon was found! The trek up had fed me lessons in topography, given two leather cowboy hat nods, talks of strange happenings in Florida and memories emerald lakes in Nevada, and general advice on life for the 26 year old on sabbatical. As the horizon began smolder dark orange, the moon answered in kind. Wind-whipped, we stood at the top ski lift, cupped our cold hands to our mouths and I thought: to feel on top of the world! I crawl into my sleeping bag, belly full of bread and bourbon, and sleep with my feet pointed east. No rooster to wake me this time, just the natural rhythm of a tired body. Dawn creeps in and I shimmy out of bed. I climb a hill close to where I parked. Scanning the sky I turn around to find the moon again: there is hangs, seemingly brighter than any sun I’ve seen this entire trip, and arguably more stunning in this silent hour than it’s eastward counterpart.
[September 29, 2015]