Espresso on the Rocks
It was a micro-adventure: twelve hours start to finish, but I’d been scoping it out for a couple weeks. Summer solstice, midnight sun, high ridgeline overlooking a series of rolling valleys and hills… and the enormous Quiet that sings through the treetops, even on hot days.
It only took fifteen minutes to grab my pack and gear, toss it in the car and head up the highway toward the approach. I started up the trail at 9:00 PM. 80 degrees, heavy smoke from forest fires and a swath of mosquitoes hit me in the face.
My feet flexed new-found freedom in the unfamiliar environment of the Zamberlan boots I was breaking in. Purchased for an upcoming climb in the Cascades, they provide the extra room my feet need these days: too many years of martial arts and instructing combatives have broken so many small bones that they’re a full size bigger than they were five years ago. My old climbing boots are too small, too tight.
The approach is steep, but relatively short and the expected breeze at the top did not disappoint. Cracking open a frosty cold brew from Midnight Sun Brewing Company, I sat for a long time and just inhaled the smoky view, the red sun and the stillness.
Arriving at the trailhead, I’d left my climbing gear in the car. I’d brought in the off-chance that there might be other climbers camping out to climb early before the sun heated the rocks. The tiny pullout was empty- and I was mostly relieved. I’m always down for climbing, but on nights like this there’s something magical about solitude.
Thunderheads rolled in and I set up my solo tent in record time, leaping through the tiny door and dragging my pack under the fly just as the sky opened up. It was a tantrum shower. Vicious, feet-kicking squall, heavy raindrops like toddler tears in a supermarket aisle. And, just like an angry baby, it gave up an hour later.
There’s no telling day from night at this latitude in this time of year, it’s all a matter of perspective. I let that sink in as I celebrated the longest day of the year. The sun never set, but eventually I did- rocked to sleep by the lullaby of the trees.
The next morning, perched like a bleary-eyed owl on a ledge, I brewed espresso and welcomed the second half of this 2015 year.