Monday, August 8, 2016

Day 100 : Diamond Peak Dreaming

27 miles today
754 miles to go

I awake to silence. The wind that was blowing and gusting all afternoon and into the evening stopped sometime in the night. A number of additional hikers showed up during the night. Their tents sprouted like mushrooms in the flat spots above the trail to the spring. I arise and eat, then pack and head out.

I walk along ridges in the sunshine yet it's cold. The air is not warming up like it once did. I am wearing my windbreaker as an additional layer to keep me warm. As I walk I see more clouds than other days. The forces of blue commanded by the blazing sun have dominated the skies over me for weeks. Whenever the gray would send a few outriding clouds they would be demolished by the blue, shriveled into wraiths and then consumed and dissipated into nothingness. Today however the forces seem more evenly matched. The gray is sending larger, darker clouds. So far the blue is pushing back and the sun blazes down on the forest warming the air to slightly above cool. I am thinking if this keeps up I'll be able to wear the smartwool base layer shirt I've been carrying since Ashland. The trail leads on and on through the forest. Then it begins to climb and pops out on the ridge leading to Cowhorn Peak. I stare at the peak trying to picture its namesake. I don't see a cow horn, perhaps I'm looking at the wrong side. As I climb the ridge towards Cowhorn I meet Batdance and Rockbiter. We chat and laugh looking off into the southeast. It seems like most of the others hikers have taken the Oregon Skyline Trail into Shelter Cove. We all mention Summit lake as our lunch spot of choice. Rockbiter says I better get there first so I get clean water cause when she gets there she's washing her socks. I throw out the challenge, “Last one to Summit Lake drinks sock water!”

Up and over Cowhorn I climb. On the other side I meet a southbounder named Bonanza. He mentions that there are two cold clear streams coming down from Diamond Peak. I tell him about the water spots south from here. As we chat Batdance and Rockbiter zip by. Bonanza and I chat for a few more minutes and say our goodbyes. I'm off, down the hill. The trail drops back into the trees. It's impossible to measure progress or to tell where I am. My feet are sore and I'm beginning to wonder if my feet have grown and my shoes are too small. I stop for lunch at Summit Lake. I sit with Batdance and Rockbiter. We look and see Diamond Peak in the distance. We will be partially climbing it and traversing over the northeastern ridge. It looks so far away. It's still hard to grasp how far we actually walk each day. 

The forces of blue and gray have been battling for the sky all day. Now as I traverse over the ridge on Diamond Peak the gray surrounds and overwhelm the sun. Without the sun the blue doesn't stand a chance and the sky transforms from a clear blue dome into a cold wet gray blanket. Wisps of mist drop down and wind through the trees. The views below me are consumed into dim gray outlines of the things they once were. Then they disappear altogether. I set up camp on a ridge floating in a gray cloud. The only forest that exists is less than three hundred feet in every direction. This is my entire world.

I cook dinner while sitting inside my tent in the chance that it starts to rain. After dinner I quickly complete my chores and climb into my cozy warm feathered nest. I zip the tent doors shut. I am warm and dry come what may outside.

I awake sometime in the darkness to a gentle rain pattering on my tent. I am warm, dry, and comfortable. A cool refreshing breeze blow a most welcome and pleasant scent. The scent of the moist wet forest. I breathe deep and sigh. I breathe deep again. I drift off to dream of gray clouds and happy green forests.

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