Summit Lake, Mount Rainier
A plume of dust clouded my rear view mirror as I turned down the unpaved road. I slowed to navigate the upward track of rugged terrain, half expecting my airbag to explode with each and every pothole. It was noon when I reached the trailhead and spotted my friends loading their packs. We had all found a moment in between life and work, and had just 24 hours to fit in a rogue camping trip.
We reached the lake and decided to climb higher, hoping for a view. We weren't really sure where we were going, and wound up hiking in circles before settling on a steep, uphill trail. Half way into the climb, I felt a stab in my lower right calf. Then another. Sam yelped out loud just as my leg started to burn. Another sting. I looked down and realized we were standing in a swarm of angry bees. We scrambled up the hill as quickly as we could, swatting and yelping beneath the weight of our packs. My legs were on fire. By the time we reached Jess, we were melting in the afternoon heat.
We continued our trek along the lake's perimeter, climbing higher and higher until we reached this view. We found two flat patches to pitch our tents, and began unpacking our bags and setting up camp.
The view was incredible, and there wasn't another tent in sight. We sat together as the sun began to fade, sharing snacks and thoughts on life.
The temperature was perfect for a while, until the wind picked up and night fell. It was colder than expected, and it wasn't long before the four of us were huddled together in one tent, bundled up in our sleeping bags and warm clothes. It was late when Sam and Navajo retreated to their own tent, and we all fell asleep to the sound of wind swept in from the Cascade range.
It was 5 in the morning when my alarm came to life. I unzipped the tent flap and peeked outside. A small part of me secretly hoped for gray skies, so I could snuggle back into my warm bag and sleep. But, everything was violet. Wisps of pink cloud floated just above Rainier. A few bright stars still hung in the air.
I nudged at Jess to wake up. She sleepily peeked out from her bag. "How is it?"
Half shrug, huge smile. "Kind of amazing."
We grabbed our cameras and tumbled out of the tent. Sam was already outside, wrapped up in her sleeping bag and waiting for sunrise. Navajo ran circles around camp, her golden fur glowing in the morning light. It was May. The start of a new day. And everything was alright.