AS IF MY MOUTH WAS A SPACE STATION, about a mile in our hike an unidentified flying bug docked right on my tongue. I dry heaved and out shot a giant moth, hurling towards the void of night. It set quite the tone to the trip.
Sometimes I do not like hiking. The bugs, the humidity, wishing I was in better shape, and the time to dwell on the existential questions of the day can make for a miserable hiking experience. Sometimes this time to think is enlightening, but sometimes it can be self deprecating. Like most things, our state of mind is not permanent and by the time we set up camp I was able to weather this self-inflicted mental storm.
The next day we set out for Knife’s Edge. We travelled through fields of Bear Grass, Pasqueflower, Heather, Paintbrush, Aster, Gray's Lovage, Monkey Flower, Lupine—a smattering of red, blue, purple, and yellows on a green canvas. The soundtrack to this painting was the percussive flapping wings of grasshoppers, wind, streams of water, and a melody sung by a marmot in its whistle register. It was a full sensory masterpiece. As we ascended, the terrain grew rocky. We narrowly missed a minor rock slide (see video), crossed snowy patches, and made it to the top. We walked over piles of gray brittle rocks which shattered like dish plates with each step.
It is hard to miss other hikers who always, without fail, greet you with larger than life "How's it goings?" With full expressive smiles and glazed looks of bliss on their faces, I find their state of nirvana super sus. They must be up to, or on, something.
We arrived at Knife's Edge. On this thin trail, just wide enough for hikers to safely traverse, I am able to turn my head like an owl to take in one of the most expansive views I have ever seen. I can see both Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and hundreds of miles of mountains beyond these geological titans. To witness such vastness of space opened my own mind 360°—I, too, was now blissed AF.
We started our journey back during a golden hour I had never seen before. On this rocky and partly snowy terrain, we witnessed a cloud form below. We were Like Wanderers Above a Sea of Fog, watching this cloud formation eventually obscure the sun, diffusing its orange explosion and spreading it throughout the rocky, snowy, and Romantic landscape. Through my sunglasses and through the fog, I was able to look the sun directly in the eye, and see the face of Bierstadt himself.
Evening set in and the painting I had been living in started to dim. We arrived at our campsite just after sunset, draped our Rumpls on our laps, and watched the sky surrounding Mt. Adams slowly start to twinkle. The layer of clouds forming at the base of Mt. Adams appeared to detach it from the ground, the mountain now hovering above Earth like a space station, completely extraterrestrial. As evening turned to night, the stars multiplied and, like the damn bugs, threatened to dock SS Adams at a moments notice.
I took my first bite of Chicken Ramen, brought the whiskey close, and took note of what other drinks in plastic liter bags were being circulated among the group. I was in the company of wonderful adventure friends and we watched this intergalactic display until our eyes felt heavy. One by one we retired to our tents, our adventurous spirits full, falling asleep knowing that we had successfully cheated time to savor every possible moment, even if only for a day.