double exposure atop shriner peak

It’s an ordinary reflection for which I rested the bayonet of my lens hood against a window, the plateau of Shriner Peak’s summit is what’s in the mirror and that’s Mt. Rainier and Cowlitz Divide as seen through the panoramic windows of the fire lookout, to the northwest. Adam and I walked up here, yesterday.  The early morning was chilly and made the steep, seemingly endless initial traverse through fragrant forest go by fairly quickly. Once the switchbacking started a couple miles later, the walk was an unqualified delight.  It seems like everything I do these days is on borrowed time with ailing shoulders, I straggled along like the old man of the woods confused about the last place he put his pipe and tried to remind myself Adam is only eight years old and possibly this was how he was feeling except every time I looked back he was pushing his spectacles back up his sweaty nose in that cute, nerdish way and making blurping, hypersonic spaceship noises for some sort of intergalactic opera.  Hmmmm…… it didn’t seem like he was doing so badly.  And from there he would only perk up as we started to hit snow and he exulted in throwing himself down like a rag doll in the pollen-dusted slush (or practicing short, standing glissades).

My spirits soared as we climbed through the last meadows to the top of the mountain and Adam pronounced our suffering atoned upon reaching the rickety lookout. I rested for a couple of hours under marching, oceanic clouds while he mostly played in the snow (from time-to-time gently depositing wet, slushy piles on my head or body but really I didn’t mind because it was so warm in the sunshine and furthermore I was determined at all cost to deny him the satisfaction of any sort of theatrics). It was hard to find a place for laying down in the meadows where elk, goat or coyote hadn’t taken a crap at one time or another. There’s tons of scat up there! At any rate, I was thinking a lot about how far Adam has come in such a short time: To the left of the stove in the shadow, through the window is a sliver of the steep-walled, v-shaped valley that he and I trudged down (from Owyhigh Lakes) only a couple years ago. He rode my shoulders for about five miles, we got caught by dusk and rain. I know stuff like that goes into the neural stair-stepping but it’s because Adam has a photographic memory about certain things and yet doesn’t remember that night (he tried to make me feel better by saying he faintly recalls the dishmop at Owyhigh Lakes but I don’t believe him), that it just about slays me, haha!

On the way home, he lost himself in his latest trashy Rick Riordan novel and I listened to the same Sparklehorse song a half dozen times or maybe more.  Adam’s reservoir still contained a few drops of energy left over from the day and he capped it off monkeying around with little brother for last call in the wading pool, at Volunteer Park. I felt God-awfully dehydrated, part of me wanted to lay face-first in the water. The boy’s mom let me leave them with her so I went back down to the house and after tossing our dusty, sweaty clothes in the washing machine I studied a map of the Cascades around Shriner Peak and chased a couple liters of water with some whiskey.

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