Into the Beyond

Oh how the days drag on. We were beginning to experience a hint of spring, and one day last week I hiked home without a jacket, marveling at the rushing waters of Hoy-Scott Creek, and the tall pines and cedars along its bank, and felt that urge to run (in fact, on non-icy days I like to run home from the train). Still recovering from a brutal cold, I have realized that when I do start running regularly (I have only been able to run irregularly this winter), I still need to finish the 5K training program before getting back to where I was before. And then over the weekend it began snowing again. On Sunday night I was up at midnight and glanced outside to see a heavy snow pouring over the soft orange light of the street lamp out front. Now, once again, we’re dealing with black ice in the morning and snow or very cold rain each day.

However, I do not want to complain about weather. It’s a trope, a trite past-time in one way; in another way, I know that I need to appreciate the utter beauty of the elements in our natural world. Yesterday, as I was getting off the train after work, my eyes went north to the mountains like usual. It was snowing again in big, fast flakes.  Mist shrouded the city center and buildings faded into the beyond. Behind them, the coastal mountains rose white and unseen. I just know that they are there, having hiked and ran their trails often.

Years ago, I read Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air about his experience on Mt. Everest in the 1996 disaster (and later his book Into the Wild).  I was drawn to each of these books, and was as well similarly to a documentary on Netflix, which I watched over the weekend, called “The Summit,” about a 2008 disaster on K2, when 11 mountain climbers died. When I read or watch these memoirs, I am not drawn to the disaster but to the determination of mountain climbers and to the courage it must take to go to the big white beyond. To that fog in the mountains and in elements that aren’t comfortable at all. To put all your strength and willpower into a brief summit panorama must be exciting.

I thought yesterday about big white mountains as I looked north after work as Canadian geese flew northeast and honked. These are the same mountains we’ve been to in the summer, spring, and fall. The mountains are like bookends–the coastal mountains to the north and the Northern Cascades to the south. Hopefully soon we can plan a winter hike. One last hike before the cherry trees begin to blossom.

At the same time, though we have had a weird winter here, we have to wonder just how long these glacial mountains will remain in the world. And though I don’t have any crazy ideas about climbing huge mountains, I’d love to climb smaller ones and reach the glaciers and be up close to them.

It gives me great pleasure to see mountains nearby, and even to sense them when I cannot see them, when the sky is shrouded by a white veil of fog. Even though I know what lies beyond, the mountains still seem mystical and mysterious. You could let your imagination run wild and create fictional stories about all kinds of possibilities existing into the great beyond.

Featured image. By Mount_Everest_as_seen_from_Drukair2.jpg: shrimpo1967derivative work: Papa Lima Whiskey 2 (talk) – This file was derived from  Mount Everest as seen from Drukair2.jpg:, CC BY-SA 2.0

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