27 September, 2009

Summer's End

Nothing lasts, not planets nor stars nor the universe itself. And even summers end. So says the leaf at Lord Hill, lying there in the sun with its blush of fall colors, but holding on to a last bit of green there at the end. A nice metaphor. And for a while there, it seemed like the only good I was going to get out of my new pack o' batteries, but that's a scene from later in the story.

Let's go back to the beginning, when I decided to take Thursday off in order to wring one last precious drop from summer, and woke up to dark gray skies and a cold wind.

Damn you, Murphy!

My intrepid companion and I had planned to go to Tiger Mountain, where it's rumored there are views all the way from the Issaquah Alps to Seattle itself. We stood out on my porch looking at the solid cloud cover stretching from horizon to horizon and decided the hell with hiking six miles up a mountain to a viewpoint with no view. Although Weather.com assured us there'd be sunshine later in the day, well, weathermen have been wrong before. So we decided to head out to St. Edwards State Park, where there are too many trees for clouds or lack thereof to really make a difference. I didn't bring my camera. Dark, dank day, why bother?

Damn you again, Murphy!

By the time we got there, the clouds were breaking up. Once we'd descended the hill by the Grotto trail and arrived at Lake Washington, there wasn't a single damned cloud to be seen, the water was glorious blue, and everything was sparkly and warm. Considerably more sparkly and warm than the last time I'd been there, which was in the spring of 2007, when I'd actually had my camera with me.

So you shall have to use your imaginations to paint in a deep blue sky, sparkling blue water, and a speedboat anchored peacefully nearby. The water, aside from those moments when passing boats disturbed it, lapped peacefully up against the shore, and by the rocks it had gathered in limpid little pools that showed off the sandy, pebbly bottom quite nicely. Nothing for it but to take off ye olde shoes, roll up ye olde jeans, and go wading.

Me being me, there was also rockhounding involved. I found not one, but two, pieces of beautiful gray mica schist lying about, and a bit of smoky quartz, and other sundry treasures still awaiting identification.

After lingering there for a very long time, we headed to downtown Kirkland, where I gave in to temptation and am now the proud owner of a bit of rhyolite with two perfectly-formed garnets in it. And I fell for the piece of lingrite from Grand Reef Mine in Arizona. And the agate limb cast. And a bit of Biggs jasper with patterns that make it look as though ferns are growing in it. And the wee sprig of amethyst in red hematite dug up in Thunder Bay by the owner hisownself.

Got off lightly that time, really.

Friday being all sun-shiny, we decided for a reprise, this time at Lord Hill, where there's rumored to be a view of both the Cascades and the Olympics. There was indeed a view at the first viewpoint we went to - of tiny fragments of mountains through a bunch of damned trees. So there we were, having trudged over a mile through dank, dark forest, dodging piles of horse shit, rewarded with nothing but more tree trunks. It hardly seemed worth it.

Luckily, we did not give up, but decided we'd attempt the second rumored viewpoint along the Pipeline cutoff trail. Worth it? Why, yes, I should think so. You take a little side trail that looks like it goes nowhere, make a steep climb, and come to a big mossy outcrop of limestone where you have to scramble over the last few feet:

And then, once you're over that bit, you're on Lord Hill's bald spot with a view to die for. There are the Olympics across the valley to the right:

And Mt. Rainier across the valley to the left:

But that's not the whole story, by far. If you take one of the little barely-there trails trekking along through the bushes and short trees on the hilltop, you'll come to a cliff, and there the Cascades are, swept out in a line that begs for a panorama. My camera can't do panoramas, so this shall have to do:

This as well:

Is that or is that not perfectly awesome?

And so there it is, the last drop of summer. How do I know it's the last? Two things: Weather.com says next week's going to get rainy and chilly, and I started developing a head cold early this morning. That is what we call a clue around these parts.

It's been an amazing summer. But now, it's time to go inside, ease back into writing by watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy (extended editions, of course), and follow the cat's lead by contemplating this summer's treasures:

There are worse ways to spend a winter. And then, at winter's end, it shall be summer again.

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