I’m coming home from my wanderings. Briefly. I’m sure I’ll head back out soon. I’m too restless not to. But what a week for it. Aside from Earth Day (if you haven’t planted something yet, get on it), Friday was the birthday of my main man of the mountains, John Muir, a major advocate for the preservation of wilderness.
Without Muir, I wouldn’t be here, standing before the roaring tumble of a waterfall, drenched and shivering with the powerful chill of glacial waters.
It’s hot. I’m sweating. My legs are jelly. The 5 pounds of water I’m carrying feel like bricks at the bottom of my bag. I’m surrounded by one too many people who should, by no means, be here on this trail. The woman we just passed is quite literally crawling up the rocks, on all fours. Some kid is darting in and out of the hikers, and I’m looking for his parents to give them a sound chiding for permitting him to run across this slippery, moss coated granite. The young girl in front of me is face timing this entire hike and I’m wondering if she even realizes how close her Nikes are to certain death. Did I mention I’m hot? I can feel the sweat seeping up against the lining of my back it looks like I lied down in a pool of water and my face isn’t faring much better.
But then, then I turn the corner. We come around the face of the mountain and I can hear the roaring of the waters and my burning skin is met with the misty sprays of liquid glacial ice. And all these people melt away. Their voices fade into the distance their faces become one in a crowd and it’s like the moment you fall in love. Your heart skips the softest beat within your chest and you try to catch it, but it feels as if someone has torn it away from you. You are left standing, without the merest breath of air within your lungs. Trembling from the wonder and the power of it all. No picture does it justice. No painting captures the magic that lies here. Little rainbows fall upon the surface of the waters, scattered by their plummeting force upon the rocks. Perfect, arching fragments of light dazzle all around me and I suddenly know what it’s like to feel small. To be eclipsed by the wonder of a universe so grand it puts the human experience to shame.
I am nothing here. To these waters I have no name and I have no meaning. All I have is this force of life, this beautiful essence of being flowing through my veins. I am ignited by it. It engulfs me. Totally, completely, all encompassing. I am the water nymph, queen of the rivers, lover of all things pure and powerful and right. My naked form dances to the melody of crashing waters, and I dissolve beside the minerals in the coursing flurry.
Once you have discovered a magic such as this, is it ever possible to leave it all behind? John Muir said it is not. And, quite frankly, I am inclined to agree. You may find me here, lingering at the bottom of a waterfall, drenched in the passionate hues of glacial blues and valley bliss.