(The Journey Continues is our 1-week high school aged trip)
After some days in the wilderness, priorities and pleasures will have shifted from normal day-to-day life. That must be part of the explanation for why a group of teenagers and their two leaders would agree to get up at five in the morning and hike through the chill to watch the sunrise from a mountaintop.
It was our last morning together. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone was up for such an adventure after all the uphill hiking we’d just done. But off we went through the slowly brightening dawn up to the summit of Blue Mountain, in the NE Olympics, and found an eastward-looking viewpoint that was sheltered from the bitterly cold wind. It was a clear morning but for some haze hanging in the Puget Basin in front of us. Our timing was perfect. After sitting quietly together for about ten minutes, all of a sudden a brightness emerged through the haze, a startling pink. As it rose and grew, it outlined the ridgeline of the Cascades, previously invisible in the hazy sky. It was one of the most interesting sunrises I’ve seen, and we all sat ooh-ing and ahh-ing for a while before getting up to take some pictures.
As I reflect on this experience, I wonder: what were we saying, with our bodies and souls, when we chose to hike up there to watch the sunrise? The sunrise is yet another thing usually taken for granted, rarely given much consideration. But to all of us it seemed the fitting thing to do. Watching the sunrise gives me a sense of looking into the future, into possibilities. I often have an instinct to see it when some transition or transformation has been afoot, when things feel new and fresh. And even moreso, to see it from the peak of a mountain gives a sense of incredible expansiveness. On our last day together, as we looked ahead to life back home, the sunrise lent us a sense of fullness, completion, and a window into what was coming next.
In a way, it’s reassuring to know that there’s such a rich experience to be had in simply taking in this basic (though from another perspective, miraculous) everyday occurrence. So I suppose that one thing we were saying was that we wanted to show up for the simple but dramatic events woven into our days and really take them in. That we wanted to seize the moment and come away with a unique memory and story to tell. What else is there?
Submitted by Cameron Withey, guide, The Journey Continues 2014