Late Sunday afternoon, around 3 o’clock at Adytum, which was enveloped in heavy cloud cover, we decided to leave for Mt. Rainier, hike Narada Falls and end up at at one of our favorite places, Alexander’s Country Inn.
Normally we’d have left hours ago. There was little hope of actually hiking Paradise before nightfall but there are plenty of other hikes along the way and all involving waterfalls. Suddenly, ten miles east in Morton the sun broke through and afforded a whole other experience.
Right before the Park entrance, we stopped into a gift shop because there was chainsaw art out front. Adytum has its share of ancient maple stumps, many 150 years old, and Donn has decided to turn them into spirit wood art instead of cutting them out of the ground. Spirit Wood is something we are all familiar with…the face peering out of the wood. We like Mirth and Green Man in particular because they appear on so many of the European Cathedrals and even on our own Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC. We collect these carvings from master stonecarver Walter Arnold who carved on the cathedral alongside Frederick Hart, famous for the Ex Nihilo sculpture at the entrance to the Cathedral and for the 3 Soldiers sculpture near the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
We bought three small Spirit Wood carvings for the Adytum Autumn table, to blend with some owls already on hand. Then we drove on past Comet Falls, which is a great short hike, to Narada Falls, the crowning jewel of the mountain highway. It was 46 degrees with wind chill…I’m not sure I’m ready for winter…We saw the friendly Clark’s Nutcrackers that are more than happy to accept peanuts and crackers from your hand. Someone had dumped a bag of peanuts out for them and they were flying in over the waterfall to eat before sundown.
Walking down to the Narada Falls lookout point was slick and wet. The fine spray met us every step of the way and despite the dry summer, the torrent of water cascading over the lip of Narada Falls is an impressive force of nature…absolutely glorious. In the slideshow you can see that opposite this formidable release of crystal clear water are a series of natural stone steps that meet the falls at the bottom of the drop.
As in the case of almost all photography, you simply have to be there to capture the nuances, the essences of this exquisite display of power and might. Many had carved their names and initials on the wooden rail at the lowest lookout point where the might of the Falls diminishes somewhat into a more containable stream winding through the valley below. The carved words seemed a desire to remain, timeless and eternal, like these Falls; to merge with the mastery of life and be carried along in their glory…
We exchanged photo taking with one other couple on the trail and headed back up. There were only half a dozen cars in the parking lot and many children scrambling dangerously close to the retaining wall which looks like a castle from the viewpoint below. The walk is magical and transported me. Nature has always fed the deep, inner recesses of my spirit which becomes parched in a city environment quickly. Our Creator has made space for combining with the eternal and the art-walks we enjoy in the Pacific Northwest have no equal in any city museum…
Cold enough now to require some warming up, we head to Alexander’s Country Inn; the charming blue Inn with a Victorian turret and large, wooden water wheel churning. Deer are almost always in the yard eating windfall apples, but we didn’t see them today. Alexander’s keeps trout in a large pond behind the Inn, but this evening I ordered a salmon burger sans the bread for $10 and Donn ordered an excellent 4-cheese ravioli in a butter sauce with a variety of mushrooms and red bell pepper. At $16 he was quite happy all the way around. His salad had a unique maple vinaigrette that was wonderful. We had a warming meal despite a bit of a chilly reception from the wait staff which is unusual for that establishment…
We bought a season’s pass for $30 and will return to enjoy the last of the huckleberries and the blaze of their foliage before winter sets in. The hills pour with liquid amber and the passion colors of Fall as Vine Maples celebrate in unison their finest hour. I love this time of year. It’s my favorite and the briskness is so welcome after the heat of summer.
This day has taught me not to accept the limits and boundaries we impose on our expectations and ideas of things. We’ve never started a hike, with an hour’s drive to our destination, so late. And we certainly will again in the future. It capped the busy guest-filled weekend at Adytum with restorative joy and peace. It grounded me once again in the deep Reality of nature and our oneness with all living things. My well is replenished and my week will reflect this short but intense investment in my spirit/body/mind complex.