Friday, December 5, 2008


Had breakfast at the Mt. Adams Cafe in Randle. I spent some time exploring my old haunt at a trailer park in Silver Brook, alongside Silver Creek. The trailer park is still there. The bridge has been replaced, but the creek still flows down the forest covered mountainside. I floored the gas peddle in the Ford Escape where a Trans Am burned rubber 30 years ago. Time to move on.

Drove to the east side of Mt. Rainier, finding the trailhead on the mountainside above the White River. Dressed and packed for a hike to the summit of Crystal Peak where I planned to camp for the night. I was originally hoping to ski this trip, at Crystal Mountain ski area, but checking webcams the night before my departure confirmed there was no snow to speak of in the Cascades, only wet clouds shown on the computer screen. So hiking up the 3000 feet was a pleasant autumn hike, the sun shining in blue skies above, Mt. Rainier already in shadow at the head of the White River valley.

Reached the summit shortly before sunset, about 4PM at this latitude. Dropped everything to take in the view and snap some pictures in the fast changing light. The chain of tall volcanic peaks stretched out before me: Mt. Hood to the south (110 miles away), decapitated St. Helens (60 miles), Mt. Adams (50 miles), Mt. Rainier before me, Glacier Peak to the north (90 miles) and the even more distant Mt. Baker on the distant edge of the horizon (140 miles). I was as close to heaven as you can get atop this peak!

Once the sun went down with light fading fast, I dropped into a saddle on the ridge below the peak, finding a relatively flat spot to pitch the tent atop a small patch of snow. I was enveloped in darkness by the time I set up the tent, rolled out the sleeping pad and bag, and eating my dinner of bread and canned salmon. The time to party had arrived!

The age of promise
Released into a young world
Walks for the first time

A plane trip away
Flees everydays tedium
Best of both worlds

Just touches the peak
Moonlit cloud swept by high winds
The hand of God

Beacon of the night
Yellow sun's light reflected
Moon watches above

Out came the tequila, CD player, headphones and and tonight's concert disc! This time I had chosen to jump ahead in time to March 12, 1995, the night Van Halen played in Jacksonville, FL, the second concert on the Balance tour. Another sweet recording!! Excellent sound quality. I bobbed and weaved, dancing throughout the nearly 2 hour long show, grooving on both the music and the sight of a moonlit Mt. Rainier rising up before me. I was way higher than the 6500 foot summit I was standing on! I kept flying after the concert ended by popping in another, New "Halen" from 1986. The batteries on the CD player drained from the nearly three hours of continuous playing. Taking them out and warming them up in my hands yielded enough power to get to the end of the second concert. I wish it were that easy when it comes to the many times I've drained the truck battery last winter.

Sometime late that evening it come to an end. No more music, no more tequila. One last feast eying the moonlit mountains before crawling into the tent that night. Going from the ear blasting sound of a Van Halen concert to the silence of sleep.

The past and present
Lines cross in the universe
Carry me so high

Plays on pure instinct
Stringed instrument's cathedral
Essence of a soul

An immense landscape
Trembles with hidden power
Stands in nights silence

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