There’s a series of three lakes in the Ansel Adams Wilderness, just south of Yosemite National Park. They lie just below the sheer, jagged peaks of The Minarets. Minaret Lake, the southernmost of these, and the most easily accessible from the town of Mammoth Lakes, is one of my favorite places on earth. Pictures of Minaret Lake hang on my wall as reminders. The Minarets represents= my ideal of alpine beauty, and I would go once a month if I could. I haven’t been everywhere, but I’ve been some places(though not yet many in the Cascades) and Rampart lakes have now earned a place alongside them as somewhere I will always want to return to.
The thing that gets me most about Mt Rainier is it’s ‘there-ness.’ On clear day, the mountain hovers over Seattle like a lumpy white ghost, appearing unexpectedly as one comes over one of Seattle’s hills or in between buildings, while crossing intersections. No matter how many times I see it, I find it impossible to take it for granted. We can see it from our apartment rooftop in Ballard, the bottom half cut-off by Queen Anne hill, the disc of the Space Needle superimposed on its middle reaches. After 10 months living in Seattle, it was time to pay Rainier a visit.
I step outside with a glass of wine and watch the illuminated texture of thin clouds passing in front of the crescent moon. It looks like a time lapse. The air is cool and marine. I was thinking the other day how in my adult life I’ve never lived very far from a body of water large enough to be visibly tidal. Chicago, San Francisco, New York, now Seattle; even the Potomac River is tidal where it passed through DC. It’s after 10pm but it’s only just got dark. I should be in bed but I want to freeze this moment so I mount my camera on a tripod and ‘click, click’ away. I don’t know why I can’t just look and let go.