Welcome to my Wilderness Journal

You may enjoy my September 2012 blog: Sharing Experiences of Great Mystery, which describes the purpose of this wilderness log, photo-art gallery, and poetry corner. In Peace, Bob

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mount Rainier: Moonlight Marten at Midnight

Journal: June 8, 1979, 7:00 p.m., Paradise, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, about 5,500' elevation 

Tahoma sketched in ink from my Paradise camp © Bob Hare 2012

I am encamped on the snowfields of Paradise just above the Inn. I am all alone in this wonderland excepting six climbers who just filed by with full packs and ice axes. The grouse are booming quietly and unseen in the dark copse of fir trees below the little knoll I'm camped on. A meltwater cascade plashes through the firs. The sun is setting through the tree-spires casting long blue shadows across the undultating snowfields. Bird notes waft up from below--crisp, clear, and bell-like. A gray jay was circumambulating my camp with an eye out for some tidbit it could snatch. An occasional Clark's nutcracker call spills over the cool but pleasant air. A very slight breeze--very quiet. 

Ink sketch from Mount Rainier © Bob Hare 2012

To the south are the craggy peaks of the 7000-foot Tatoosh Range--very beautiful granite faces with nestled snow. A very light ripple of cirrostratus veils the blue of the Heavens. Young firs poke their bent little bodies out of depressions in the snow where they've been buried under 1000 inches of snow for the last six months.

Then there is Tahoma--all ice-girted and silent, holding so much fire deep within it's Being. Glaciers poised on its flanks, all cracked, fissured, and blackened by landslides in their lower reaches. The last rays of the sun are glinting off its rounded crests. Such a massive Presence! Yellow-green and shadow-darkened fir-spires march up the snow slopes. It is hard to gauge its true size, rather like Nepal's 26,795-foot Dhaulagiri I spent all day hiking past in March while ascending the Kali Gandaki Gorge. The mountain is so huge it seems close, though the peak is five miles from my camp as the eagle flies.

Ink sketch from Mount Rainier © Bob Hare 2012

Thought I heard an avalanche rumble but I see no impact clouds of sparkling snow. The mountain lies so quiet, so eternal, so still. A small mountain wave cloud just appeared to the east of the peak. Fingers and short rows of cirrus are moving in from the west. Chipmunk just made a quick, brave foray out onto the snow from the shelter of the trees but thought better of it and scampered right back with long leaps, holding its tail straight up. Such a brave little Being to live on such a big icy mountain!

Hands getting a bit cold. My friend the jay has been carrying away my apple core bits. An Oregon junco here to keep me company. Chipmunk finally got the nerve to run all the way to a new tree island. Time for a second pair of socks and the knit hat Andrea made for me. Another distant rumble--Tahoma speaks again, quite softly considering her potential. This time I saw the white cloud--a small ice-fall off the west shoulder of the Anvil. The bell-like call-notes are from the varied thrush. I turn about and see that the two-days-from-full moon has risen. Tahoma is now all blue. Tonight she will glow ghostly in the moonlight. Too cold to write anymore.

Midnight, June 9, 1979, My Camp in Paradise

I was just awakened by a pine marten! The moon is drifting behind the fir boughs.

Pine Marten Internet Image: peculiarcreatureslmc.blogspot.com/

5:00 a.m. June 9, 1979, My Camp in Paradise

A gloriously pristine morning is dawning. I had a very exciting night, being awakened by a rustling sound that was part of a dream I was having. I bolted upright in my sleeping bag in the bright moonlight startled to see a cat-sized dark-furred animal right at my head by my food bag sitting in the snow. I think we startled each other. The marten immediately bounded gracefully clockwise on the snow around my plastic ground tarp as I was struggling to loosen the ties which snugged the down bag around my face.

I knew immediately that it was a pine marten. It circled me at lease two times before I got my glasses on. I moved slowly so as not to scare it away. I talked to it--saying hello--wanting it to stay. When I got my glasses on it approached near my pack at my feet and swiftly bounded off into the nearby fir grove. 

I was awestruck by this awakening--and the magnificent panorama of Tahoma--more dazzlingly white in the moonlight than I had envisioned. A beautiful near-full moon-disk rested to the south neatly wedged between two fir-spires. All around stately tree silhouettes were climbing Tahoma's flanks. I lay back peacefully reflecting on what I had witnessed and felt. A satellite coasted quickly overhead past Ursus Major straight to the north toward Cassiopeia twinkling brightly on the tree-horizon

Mounts Adam, Hood, Jefferson and pre-1980 eruption Mt St. Helens, Pencil Drawing © Bob Hare 2012

Now at sunrise the moon has set, tawny amber through the dark firs. Some climbers have already trekked by. The monotonous calls of the varied thrush and the booming of the grouse hidden in the trees arose on the crystalline air with the first intimation of dawn. The melt water splashes under the snow. Tahoma is catching the first yellow-white rays of the sun-god. The tree-spires to the east are majestically frozen in dark silhouettes. To the south the Tatoosh snowfields are tinted a delicate peach with distant peaks and ridges a light blue-violet. The air is still. All is suspended in time on this frosty awakening.

Journal Update: October 16, 2012, Elk Grove, California, Elevation about 27' above the sea 

As I packed up my tentless camp in 1979 to climb 4,500' up the snow-girted flanks of Tahoma to Camp Muir at 10,188', I saw Marten and Chipmunk bounding once again across the snowfields. It is Marten's job to catch Chipmunk and Chipmunk's job not to get caught. They are perfectly designed to do these jobs. They are locked in an eternal dance, a divine game of Hide-and-Seek. Great Mystery has hidden Itself as these two handsome furry incarnations. Both have helpless babes hidden away crying out for meat or milk. Such a serious, poignant, gory, and glorious play of Great Mystery we live as Spirit clothed in Matter.  

I root for Chipmunk to make it safely to its home yet I want Marten's kits to be fed. This is the divine dilemma of life feeding upon life--of one divine form becoming another. This ever-changing masquerade is perfect as it is. It can be no other way. No separation between Great Beauty-Great Tragedy-Great Joy in this ever-birthing-ever-dying world.  

When we are caught up in this divine Mystery Play we feel empathy for the victim, loathing for the villain, and admiration for the hero. But, as with a stage play, we can at any time suspend our enchantment with the on-going production and remember we are actors playing assigned  roles. Behind any stage production is the playwright who envisioned the drama. Iour real world Drama (whether it is Chipmunk vs. Marten or Us vs. Themthe Master Playwright has taken on all the roles and is experiencing Life through infinite eyes and body forms.  

Our human job is to throw ourselves completely into this Mystery Play of Life with all the awareness, compassion, and courage we can muster. We need to be awake in the Play to see the One Player behind the many masks. We need compassion with the very real suffering of those lost and struggling in the Play. And we need the courage to act where we are needed to alleviate the suffering and also the courage to accept the suffering we cannot change. 

May Chipmunk sometimes make it home safely to nurse its young another day. And may Marten sometimes carry Chipmunk home as dinner for the growing Marten family. It is good. As long as they strike this balance Chipmunk and Marten will continue dancing and prancing over the snows of Tahoma's fir-studded flanks and enchanting campers in the moonlit snow.

May all Beings be well, happy, and free! Yours in Peace, Bob 

Note: Unless attributed to other sources all text, poems, photographs and artwork in this blog and other blogs entitled "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" are copyrighted © 2012 by Bob Hare. The phrase "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" is a trademark of Bob Hare.