Lost in the Ridges
For thousands of years we have existed without the idea of technology in the modern sense. The “technology” that was available to us until extremely recently were things like horseback and fire. And people were extremely resourceful with their technology. For instance, many of the nightly activities were centered around the fire, as it was the central place of social gathering, cooking, and warmth. So it’s bizarre to consider we live in a time that is so fragmented from 99% of history; where actions have a more lasting visual impact than the thousands of years before it, evidenced by the widespread industry. Now we seem to need multiple items to reproduce the same sensations and abilities that were cultivated with one or two things during the rest of history. I too enjoy the fruits of our current world; I simply contemplate whether we overcomplicate our entertainment.
I contemplate these thoughts and our impact as I hear several military jets dive down into the valley and shake us in our boots. I gaze upon the landscape etched in the blue light of the noon sun; a landscape that is still somewhat unique. Usually we associate uniqueness with a remarkable experience; doing or creating something to set it apart; now uniqueness in terms of the natural world seems to be associated with that which hasn’t been spoiled. I marvel at the uniqueness of a landscape that has no signs of clearcutting for miles. Steep summits line the horizon as meadows before us show their sun-weathered golds and browns.
Numerous climbs over ridges finally bring us to the aptly named Camp Lake some 11 miles and 6,000 ft. from the trailhead. The cobalt lake rests in a pocket lined with steep granitic slopes. The sun shines through and accents its greenish tones beneath the surface. An osprey hovers over the far end of the lake catching the afternoon sun on its wings as a fish rises near us. I could imagine after having traversed countless ridges the lake is kind of welcoming, despite there not being a premier view. Ever intrepid we would continue on to Lake Byrne.
I reach for a branch on our descent and whoosh; down the hill I go. I thankfully come to rest on some graceful fir trees not far from where I slipped, but it is amazing to see the amount of cuts one can accumulate just from hitting the ground with any speed above zero. I gaze at the rose-colored shade that my forearm adorns.
The clouds had been interesting all day. And they didn’t disappoint at sunset. The low-angle light painted the slopes of Glacier Peak in crimson. It is interesting what climbing a few feet can do for a mountain’s relative size. Down near the lake shore Glacier Peak was barely visible, and from this vantage point it dominates the horizon.
I was thankful that it was a moonless night. As there now was a dark theater to the heavens above. The giant celestial screen featured countless stars, planets, and satellites. It was so quiet that the stillness seemed thick and tangible. The lake rested silently below. Glacier Peak gathered the warm glow above during a long exposure.
I am setting up my tent and I hear a snap; my trusty tent of several years has finally unveiled a flaw. The distorted top pole now turns my tent into a near-teepee configuration. Sleep is somewhat light as I adapt to my new limited confines in the tent. I think about this dance we do between growth and decay. On enough trips things begin falling apart, but these moments illuminate the replaceable and fleeting nature of these things. Their demise shouldn’t hinder our experiences, yet it should build our resilience. Because over a lifetime ,hundreds of different accessories will accompany us, but it’s our resilience to move on and grow stronger despite their faltering that stands apart from them. A resilient mind says that experience is the most important thing and I can work with any object to better serve the experience.
Splash is the sound made from leaping from a giant isolated rock into the cold-blue depths. “Just dive in” I think to myself as the deep water constricts the muscles and invigorates the spirit. I make the long swim back to shore. The clouds again are amazing. The sun creeps below a massive cloud formation to briefly illuminate the hillside and Glacier Peak. I quickly grab my camera. The water below me gently laps against the talus field leading into the water.
There are many aged logs that have fused with the rocks on this slope. The wood has been dissected by time and its colorful entrails form circular patterns around the rock. A small pine cone gets a sense of security nestled on the patterns of a fallen friend.
The lake developed this calmness that lingered through sunset to sunrise. This afforded many different angles of reflection. The mid-ground seemed like a distracting detail to this scene so I went with virtually no details in it to focus entirely on the reflection. In this day in age of striving for technical perfection, where many night shots have more details than even the naked eye can perceive, posting a daytime shot with blocked shadows comes with a bit of trepidation. But the decision should rest with what serves the moment best, and voila.
We soak up some of the remaining rays and pose for a shot of our home over the last few days. We then set off to culminate another fantastic experience that will stay with us forever.
We pass more groups than spots to park on the way down. I then begin to question how we can walk the fine line between enjoying these landscapes and overusing them. I think as long as we walk with humility and reverence our steps will carry less impact.