autumn reds and a dusting of snow in the cascades
After being gone from the boys most of last week, I was anxious to take Adam up to the Cascades before school starts on Wednesday. The heat and wildfires across the state over the past month and a half had really put the kibosh on certain plans for taking Adam exploring, so the dramatically cooler weather and rains across the Pacific Northwest the past seven days made it seem like I’d been gone from home far longer. On the flight from Detroit City, I was pleasantly surprised at the dusting of snow on higher elevations in the Cascade Range. Saturday, while Oliver Fern and Grandma stayed home and squeezed in a morning outside before the arrival of thunder and lightning, Adam and I journeyed north to observe the transition to autumn in the alpine. The colors were splendid and temperatures in the upper 40s made our nearly ten mile walk seem surprisingly easy, though we both admitted to very tender feet at the end.
At lunchtime, we carefully chose a fine, wind-sheltered nook in the rocks that offered a spectacular view overlooking the incomprehensibly massive, atlas-like wall of Johannesburg Mountain. In spite of not getting a lot of exercise the past week (it was cool and rainy, he spent a lot of time with Grandma playing board games and studying the ins-and-outs of cross-stitching), Adam handled the walk up to lower Sahale Arm with ease. This is one of the classic strolls in the Cascades and I was pleased we could visit on such a dramatic day. Views were limited due to afternoon weather, but we shivered with excitement at sleety snow and thirty mile-per-hour winds. I would’ve been sorry as heck if I’d forgotten the mittens!
As we began our descent, the clouds lifted temporarily above Mixup Arm and revealed a cavalcade of sinister, serrated rock and so Adam spent most of the time wildly animating to himself, pretending fantasies about monsters and wayward wizards and every once in awhile I’d discern the slashing of a sword or mace, haha! Once or twice I thought the lookout above Hidden Lake might make an appearance, but stormy swirls of darkness always pushed back in. That’s where I want to take Adam, next.
We made it down to the trailhead shortly after dusk, the last day-trippers off the mountainside. Adam thrilled at the sociable deer that provided company all around (and on) the trail as we rummaged in our packs for headlamps and flashlights. In the dark, in our dented-up Prius down the washboard, rattletrap Cascade River Road, I smiled at Adam’s barely visible tired portrait in the rearview mirror. I supposed my wind burnt face felt flush as much from happiness……