23 June 2009

city escape

(National Forest, Gone West - 2009)

We escaped.

We slept next to a rushing stream, so loud that we might have been alone in the campground for all we could here of our neighbors, so loud that my ears rang when I walked away from it.

We walked across logs, arms out for balance, to explore little islands and far shores unreachable by road.

We walked through giant forests that smelled of dry pine, crushing the needles under our feet, and then we clambered over lava.

We lost the trail in a burn. Four or five years ago, it was a pine forest. Three or four years ago, it was aflame. Now the blackened trunks were eerie and alone above the first returning underbrush. The wind blew the tops of them, far above, while we climbed over and ducked under fallen logs. My jeans were black with soot. My legs were bruised from the stubs of the snapped-off branches, my hands layered with splinters and tiny cuts. The dead trunks were so high above us that it did not do to look up.* It made me feel small, and a part of something huge.

We stood at the top and looked out over the world. Tiny raindrops fell on us from a clear sky, and we never did solve the mystery of the water droplets falling without clouds. A plant? we speculated. Mist on the other side of the mountain? But there was no mist, and we felt the raindrops even with no plants nearby. "Am I crazy?" we asked one another. "I feel raindrops, and I see them on my skin, but there are no clouds at all."

* For scale, see S. in the photo above, down in the lower right-hand corner.

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