For the afternoon I had parted ways from my colleagues and rented a car, daring to find my way to Mt. Rainier.
It took nearly two hours of vehicular prying and dodging to shove my way past the mostly inescapable monster that is Seattle traffic, making the likelihood of a daytime vista more like an eroded dream. I knew it wasn’t very likely to begin with, though, and once the wilderness began to basify the acid of driving stress I became far more present in the lushness of Washington and much less reactive to its warts.
By the time I reached the Chinook Pass low clouds had covered every bit of sky. There still was the possibility that they were localized or patchy and so I pressed on, percipient of my eventual disappointment but also very aware that I was breathing clean, non-recirculated air for the first time in days. The only miteration upon the public streets in this area came from things like elk, wolves, eagles, or bears. There was no car visible for tens of miles at a time, something quite rare in the eastern states. The vastness of Mr. Ranier National Park had tasked itself with delivering the sublime like my friend Alliene would appreciate.
The color of the adjacent White River first caught my eye as I rounded a gentle turn in the road, like the appearance of plaster that the drywall specialists had used to patch the ceiling two years earlier. It was as if the earth had opened up its own milkshake well and left the pump on. I missed the first pull-off and after passing the next gave myself the all-clear for a high speed stop and U-turn. Windshields don’t block THAT much light, but when I stepped out of the little box on wheels it was as if this volcanic-ash-laden liquid, this slurry of grey (GREY!), suddenly had saturation. Yellow flowers shouted from the sidelines as stands of aspen looked aimlessly for their reflection. The sky was falling and I knew I wouldn’t be seeing Rainier on this trip.
I looked up, anyway, and was introduced to Skookum Falls.