The dark gray haze of early morning is beginning to brighten, but the grass is still covered with frost.
“Time to go!” husband cheerfully cries. I look out the window and sigh.
The chill air makes me shiver as I step onto the porch.
“Didn’t we run later in the day last fall?” I ask, zipping my fleece as high as it will go.
“Maybe, but I like to get it done first thing in the day.” Husband is already jogging in place, patiently waiting for me to get warmed up. I take quick walking steps, easing into the run. Why was it I wanted to run anyway? And so early, when day has barely arrived?
Then I look up. Ah, sunrise. I had forgotten about sunrise. We run a bit, then I whip out my phone and take a picture. Further on, I stop again. Mt. Hood silhouetted by brilliant golden clouds. Yes, this is why early morning is the time to be out. Husband patiently waits. (See a pattern here?) I move on, inspired and beginning to warm up. And I keep watching the sky as the colors change and fade into streams of sunshine. A glorious fall day!
Funny how life always seems better when you look up.
Posted in autumn, Nature, Perspectives | Tagged attitude, autumn, beauty, clouds, nature, weather | Leave a Comment »
Our last day at Mt. Rainier was like so many fall days in the Pacific Northwest—wet and gray. Clouds moved in, muting the greens of moss and leaves, the reds and blues of berries, the gold of fall’s last blossoms. I hid my camera in my pack, bringing it out only briefly to capture some quick moment of beauty.
When the rain stopped for a bit, I ventured out again. Firs towered over me, grown tall in the moist soil. The river rushed by, energized by the added water. And all around me, pictures of nature’s magnificence in miniature beckoned. In the days past we had enjoyed the grand vistas—wide, blue lakes, majestic peaks, hills rising above the fog. Today I focused in on the little things.
Leaves speckled with raindrops. Oregon grape nestled against a tree trunk. Lacy leaf patterns in the vine maple. Miniscule forests of fungi. Amazing beauty that is so easy to miss in our hurried lives.
Gray days can be depressing. Clouds surround me and the rain beats upon me, forcing my eyes downward. However, if I keep my eyes open, I can still discover those small blessings that make each day special.
Posted in autumn, blessings, camping, clouds, Nature, Perspectives, special places, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged autumn, beauty, camping, clouds, joy, nature, rain, September, weather | Leave a Comment »
After feeling that nothing could beat the Naches Peak Trail, husband and I set off on the Lakes Trail in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier and changed our minds.
The night had brought fearsome thunder, followed by a downpour, repeated again later in the night. Morning arrived in foggy gray, which continued to surround us as we drove to the trailhead. When we reached Reflection Lakes, the beginning of the trail, sun broke through and brightened the muddy trail. Behind the lake, Mt. Rainier still wore a gray hood.
The trail up to Paradise Visitor’s Center wandered through the woods, crossing a rocky, chattering stream, with occasional views of peaks behind us. Huckleberry bushes lined many sections of the trail, holding luscious blue fruits that we nibbled on.
The uphill wore me down, as usual, but then we reached the aptly named Paradise. Mt. Rainier still hid her head behind the clouds, but at least the base showed. We took a short lunch break by the visitor’s center—not too crowded in September—and then hiked on. Now views turned spectacular. A new alpine meadow appeared around each bend, and the higher we hiked, the more blooms still lingered on the flowers. Craggy peaks and hills rose in the background with fog creeping into the valleys between. Green fields studded with rocks ran up to touch the mountain.
We stopped to rest in one rocky field by a stream. Soon marmots were popping out of holes to check us out. Later we saw blue grouse. Young ones followed their mother into the brush. An adult male gobbled huckleberries from plants along the trail. He would trot a short distance down the trail as we approached, but then get distracted by the juicy berries. Finally he turned off on a faint trail into the brush where he could eat his lunch undisturbed.
As we hiked back down toward Reflection Lakes, the fog moved in, and a drop or two of rain hit our faces. We walked past tiny alpine tarns and green meadows shrouded in fog back to the trailhead. Six miles completed and truly a gem of a hike! And the rain held off until we were back inside our little travel trailer, cozy and secure.
Posted in camping, clouds, hiking, Nature, special places, summer | Tagged beauty, blueberries, camping, clouds, nature, rain, summer, weather | 5 Comments »
“On a clear summer or crisp fall day, this might be the finest day hike in Washington,” the trail guide said. (Day Hike! Mount Rainier by Ron C Judd with Seabury Blair, Jr.) I would have to agree.
My husband and I set off on September 4, as the morning sunshine lit up the white fuzzy heads of Western anemones. Meadows all along the route held the remnants of what must have been a riot of color just two or three weeks before. Now a few asters, some lupine, and an occasional monkey flower by a stream remained to hint at summer’s beauty. Dwarf mountain ash held bright orange fruits, and huckleberry plants hid sweet, blue treasures under their leaves. We munched as we walked.
On a larger scale, the views were magnificent. Jagged rocky peaks surrounded us, a few with patches of snow still accenting their slopes. Blue mountain tarns reflected stately fir trees and white clouds. Peace descended upon us in the silence, broken only by the caws of a crow, the chipping of juncos in the trees, and the hushed murmur of a cool breeze.
An uphill climb brought us face to face with Mt. Rainier itself. Sadly, clouds veiled its peak, and we could only glimpse the white skirts of snow on the lower section. We stopped to rest on a rocky area, where a friendly chipmunk—or perhaps a ground squirrel—agreed to pose for me.
Then on back down, past Tipsoo Lake, an opal set in an emerald field. Over one more ridge, then down to the truck, with enough huckleberries in my pack for a lovely pancake breakfast.
“How can people see this beauty and say there is no God?” my husband wondered. I couldn’t answer.
Posted in camping, hiking, Nature, summer, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged beauty, birds, blueberries, juncos, nature, September, summer | 8 Comments »
We’d been spending too much time at home working. I was feeling restless. Where should we go? Mt. Hood is always nice this time of year. It’s a bit early for black flies, and the alpine meadows are filled with flowers. So recently my husband and I headed up for a hike to Lookout Mountain on the east side of Mt. Hood.
We bumped over miles of washboard gravel road to reach the trail head at High Prairie. “Keeps the tourists away,” we said optimistically. And it appeared to be true, as there were only a couple of cars in the parking area. As predicted, the meadow was awash with color—white and yellow daisy-type flowers, Indian paintbrush, and more. We took the trail to the right, as recommended in the guide book. It was a wise decision. View after view of the mountaintop—only seven miles away—opened up as we hiked along. One place a field of red lava rocks added to the mountain view.
As we neared the high point, ghostly white tree trunks twisted in tortured shapes, bent by the wind. New kinds of flowers appeared. And talk about views! From the top, where a fire lookout used to stand, we could see mountains all around: St. Helens, Adams, Rainier to the north; Jefferson and the Three Sisters to the south.
We continued down—and I do mean down, with the path a bit steep in places—to Oval Lake, a couple of miles farther along. A scenic little lake where the deep quiet echoed softly in my ears. There we rested for what I knew would be a grueling uphill slog back to Lookout Mountain, before we hit the downhill path back to the truck. My fears proved true, for me at least. My husband, a runner, patiently waited for me during my frequent rest breaks.
We took the old road from the lookout back to the truck—not as scenic as the way up, but a pleasant downhill stroll back to the bright meadow where we began. But now with tired legs, a camera full of pictures, and the peace that comes from spending time in God’s creation. Sometimes I forget, in the busy days of life, how much I need quiet, green places and towering mountains. At Lookout Mountain my soul was fed.
Posted in hiking, Nature, special places, summer, Uncategorized | Tagged beauty, contentment, joy, life, nature, summer | 2 Comments »
Time is our most precious commodity. It slips away so quickly, whether we are busy working or playing. We want more of it, but few of us know how much we really have. And when we receive an unexpected abundance, we tend to waste it—at least I know I do.
Yet there are days when time seems to stand still. I look at the blue sky and hear the robin singing in the dogwood tree, the chickadees chittering away near the bird feeder. I feel the gentle breeze on my face. I smell the sweet scent of the pinks that grew from starts given me by a former neighbor, now passed on to eternity.
Eternity seems only a thin veil away as I walk through the green woods or stand on a cliff, surveying the forest below, the mountains in the distance. I feel God’s breath on me as I drink in the beauty. And I wonder: if this is a fallen world, what must heaven be like? Heaven, when time will no longer matter.
Posted in Nature, Perspectives, summer, Uncategorized | Tagged beauty, birds, chickadees, hope, joy, nature, robins, summer, time | 2 Comments »
I love all sorts of walks on the beach: romantic strolls with my husband, energetic hikes to a distant jetty or dune, meandering ambles with a new friend. When our kids were small, I loved watching them as they scrambled around, picking up every shell and turning over every stone in search of something wonderful. However, introvert that I am, nothing quite beats being alone on the beach with a camera.
Early morning is the best time; sunset is great, too, if the colors are bright. Any time at all is still nice. Today it was morning: a still morning early enough that the breeze had not yet begun, when the sun rose brightly over the hills, and the freshly washed sand pulled me toward it with magnetic force. After a lovely rest in the Emily Dickinson room at the Sylvia Beach Hotel in Newport, Oregon, I was ready.
Being alone brings a certain freedom. I can sing praise songs aloud with the pounding of the surf both my background music and my disguise. I can stop to watch a bird circling above or stand and drink in the peacefulness of the ocean as long as I want, with no worries that someone else may wish to move on. I can turn aside for whatever catches my eye—a cloud formation, a small pool’s reflection, a tiny shell, or even just the pattern left in the sand by the rushing waves and beating wind. I can take a hundred pictures, trying to capture the essence of the scene, the special beauty of that particular moment.
Finally I must wander back to join the others, to eat breakfast, to plan our day. But those moments alone on the beach with my camera have given me images to share, as well as a peace inside that is all my own.
Posted in clouds, Coast, contentment, hiking, joy, Nature, Perspectives, special places, Travel | Tagged beach, beauty, blessings, clouds, contentment, joy, nature, weather | 9 Comments »