All Uphill For Nothing

camas and buttercup by moss covered rock
Camas blossoms and buttercups on Orcas Island

It was all uphill and for nothing. The legs burned all the way up and grew shaky and wobbly on the way back down. The goal was the top and nothing short of it would do. A sweat worked its way into the clothes, layer after layer came off until even the the hat was carried by hand. But goals are goals and must be met. Past the magnificent Garry oaks and their vistas of the over 400 islands below, clouds shrouding the peak, the goal. past the rocky outcrops covered in lush green moss, past the luxurious spring meadows spread with thousands of bright purple camas ┬áblossoms like a hundred thousand aubergine stars. Past the white and yellow blooms of wild strawberry and buttercup and past the hundreds of shades of new green, dark or pale, bright, shiny, dull, smooth, fuzzy, prickly, variegated and veined, all the greens that make the Pacific northwest the penultimate gardener’s paradise. On past it all, the goal Turtleback peak on Orcas island still obscured by clouds. The trail went from broad to narrow and back again, sometimes a gravel main wide enough for a pickup, then two parallel dirt paths where friends could walk side by side, then a single foot trail and onto soft green hummocks that had most of the fall and winter to develop while there was little traffic. At each turn there was a hillside above where trees informed that the top had not been achieved until finally a bit of sky shone through them and it was seen the clouds had moved on. But no vista, a pleasant meadow at the top, more flowers and rocky outcrops with moss but the trees surrounded all and obscured the view. Forget Turtleback and just drive to the top of Constitution and catch the astounding view from the stone tower at the highest point in the San Juan Islands. Mount Rainier can be seen on a clear day as can Vancouver Island, the Canadian Cascade range, the refineries of Birch Bay and Anacortes, Mount Baker and Glacier peak, Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, eagles soaring thousands of feet above the straights, cargo ships that are mere linear dots that leave white trails in the blue water. Forget the hike to the top, and the pastoral views of Crow Valley, the wonderful friendly pace of Orcas island and the bouquet of bright flowers on the outdoor table at the organic market in Eastsound and the beautiful young woman who arranged them and left them than for no other reason than to make a lovely day even more lovely. Forget that hike, if you can.


DavidW - Publisher

Raised in obscurity and completely entranced with the notion that we should live our lives with the same valuable ethic that a conscientious hiker would, leaving no trace.

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