Silhouette on the Ridgeline

As I stepped into the Dawn’s shadows, cool, moist air invited me up the mountain trail. Feet crunching through the late season snow, my path was shrouded in a blanket of fog. I wound my way through the matrix of firs and snow fields. Every so often, patches of grassy, avalanche lily laden meadows rested quietly, the bowed heads of the lilies awaiting the life-giving rays of sunlight.

Soon, the subalpine gave way to lush, dew-covered alpine meadows. A glance behind me made me stop. All at once, I had crested the bank of fog and before me stood the slopes of Mt. Rainier in the morning light.

Mt. Rainier in its fully glory.

I continued up the winding trail until I reached the pass. To the South there laid endless fog over which only the tallest peaks surpassed: The Goat Rocks Wilderness, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mount St. Helens. Standing in awe, a sharp call suddenly broke my stupor. I recognize that call!

Panoramic view looking South, from Pinnacle Pass.

Upon hearing the call on the slopes below me, I carefully, methodically, made my way down and across a steep side slope. Hundreds of feet of rocky slope lingered below my boots, fading into the mist. Each movement measured, my progress was slow. Somewhere ahead of me, in the multitude of rocks, awaited the creature of my desire.

Looking up from my task, I scanned the talus slope for sign of the creature I knew to have made the sharp calls. Each protruding point grabbed at my gaze, until, “Wait. What was that?” Through the shroud of fog, my

Talus slopes where the pika called from.

eyes fell upon the small, hunched shape for which I sought: a pika. Silhouetted against the banks of fog, the little mountaineer sat seemingly stoic upon its perch.

The scene of that small, lone figure amongst a multitude of rocks struck me in a powerful way. Being in that moment, on that mountain, on that dangerously steep hillside, in that fog bank, and staring at this tiny creature that was so well suited to its surroundings, which was in stark contrast to me, somehow took me out of my present state and left me sitting there in one of the most tranquil moments I’ve experienced.

The moment passed as quickly as it came, as the fog lifted.

Pika in the fog.

A minute and ten seconds later, the fog lifted.