Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On how mosquito bites are proof of beauty

I almost didn't want to go to work on Monday. I was exhausted, and covered with red bumps. They peppered my elbows, stung a couple spots on my legs. But the worst is my face. It looks like I'm having some adolescent breakout, with little bumps all over my forehead, and cheeks. I feel compelled to tell everyone I meet (since I meet a lot in my job) that I got bitten by a horde of mosquitos. But I keep quiet, hoping they won't notice, knowing they will. But I do say, it was all SO WORTH IT.

My Dad and I set out to climb Obervation Peak in the South Cascades, which is a 7 mile hike with a 1600 foot incline. Really, not bad. I last did this hike when I was 10 years old, and remember the cotton candy-topped beargrass reaching my shoulders as it swayed in the mountain breeze. After a couple windy miles through old growth, at our first viewpoint, I saw it growing between lichen covered rocks. Beargrass.
At that moment, I felt intensly happy. The sun warmed my skin, the wind rustled the leaves. The view before me was breathtaking, and this was only the first.

As we walked through the stands of trees, my Dad stopped and said something that sticks with me days later.

"It's so nice to know this is here, when we're sitting in our cubicles at work."

There's something about nature, and being up in high places, that makes me feel closer to God, or the Oneness, or the Great Spirit, whatever you want to call it. The blue sky is an expanse above me, I breath with the trees, the flowers. The babbling creek taps out a rhythm, and I finally feel part of something, something that lacks when I walk on cement ground, and see buildings rise around me like a forest on crack, encased in stone. We hiked ever upwards, through more beargrass, to a summit called Observation Peak.
I took in the panorama with wide eyes. Mount Hood. Mount Jefferson. Mount Adams. Mount Rainier. The craggy peak of Mount St. Helens. I imagined the blast shredding the side of the mountain, the ash gushing upwards in a gigantic plume, the mudslides. The power and force of nature should never be underestimated.That's Mt Rainier in the background behind me and my Dad.
I think we're at about 5,000 feet in these photos, and it's magificent. It's a great spot to eat lunch. The mosquitos agreed as they swarmed and ate me alive. My Dad said he has 6 mosquito bites. I have 30.

I was wondering why I'd been so run down lately. Unmotivated, a little sad, like my energy was slowly leeching away. Being on Bainbridge Island in trees helps a bit, but the unbridled wilderness really replenished my soul.

After this viewpoint we scrambled out to Sisters Rock, on an overgrown trail. I felt like a billy goat as I stood on another craggy peak.
The mosquitos landed on my cheeks, my forehead, and inside my ears. They were starving, having just hatched from puddles beneath the melting snow, which was still visible on the trails.

This week, I've been dreaming about hiking. Picturing the trees, the views, the mountains and flowers. This hike reminded me of how much I need the outdoors, that I should go outside whenever I can. I'm only a 1.5 to 2 hour drive from some beautiful places in the Olympics.

I've learned to embrace my mosquito bites, and I'm no longer embarrassesd. I can't believe I almost called in sick because of vanity, when these marks are only proof that beauty exists. It's always out there, I can see it when I close my eyes.


Lisa said...

Oh, how lovely! I've made one of your photos my screen saver. And by the way...I'm the type that gets eaten alive too. Poor Kristin!

abigail said...

I miss being so close to such beautiful places!
I am so glad you got replenished! Nature is so amazing- except for bug bites! Ewww. I have a lot of them too- because mosquitoes they like it here in Kentucky!

Paula said...

That was a wonderful blog. Thanks for sharing this journey with amazing photographs and heartfelt descriptive writing that captures the power of nature....the ultimate giver of perspective...I want to go on that hike some day! But wearing Quantum Bug Repellent.

Chris said...

wonderful pictures, but i have to admit reading it made me really itchy all over