Pacific Crest: Mile 2284

I don’t want to close my eyes. I don’t want the day to end. I guess I’m afraid that I’ll never have a better one than this.

I’m watching shooting stars, satellites, and picking out constellations. The Big Dipper’s floating just over Mt. Rainer. I can finally find Cassiopeia in the sky and she’s become one of my new favorites. If I wait long enough, Orion will spin over the horizon with a ready bow and his glowing three star belt.

I woke up early this morning, I don’t know why. I just got up and started walking. It was still dark, but I didn’t care. I felt like moving.

By noon I’d covered twenty miles and found myself sitting by a sparkling blue lake high in the Goat Rocks. I lay down in a field of flowers and grass, flipped my hat over my eyes, and basked in the sun. It seemed time to reinstitute the midday nap policy from the distant desert.

I didn’t need to move at all, so lay there until my desire took hold and pulled me up. I wanted to see what waited around the next bend of trail. I crossed over two passes and dropped into a large bowl-shaped valley. There was a herd of mountain goats playing above the trail. I counted fifty of them, from old to young, white dots on a green canvas. A lucky sign. They may be my favorite animal.

Sturdy, sturdy, sturdy, with a gruff look to them and a playful attitude. Their powerful front shoulders make them look like their namesake. But under all that sturdy power lies the soul of an acrobat, one able to scale sheer cliffs with the ease of a grassy field.

I lay down again and watched the goats, envious of their uncanny abilities, thinking they must have invisible wings that allow them to defy gravity.

As the herd moved off, so did my attention. Back to the trail. The sun was only a few hours from the horizon and I wanted to chase a sunset.

I love sunsets. I used to tell myself that the sun was always setting somewhere, I just had to find it. It’s true, any time of day, the sun is always setting.

I scrambled higher and higher. I knew the trail split at one point, the new route cutting across the face of a mountain while the old climbed toward the top. I knew where to go, the top is where sunsets are. I began scrambling toward the peak of Old Snowy.

It didn’t matter that I’d walk down in the dark. Frozen, not frozen, I just didn’t care. I had to be there for sunset.

But just before the top, just as St. Helens, Adams, and Rainier lit up in the distance and the sun looked like a glowing orb of fire, I found a ledge big enough for one.

That’s where I’m lying now, picking out constellations. Orion will be here soon. I never want this day to end. I’m afraid to fall asleep.

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