I slog up the muddy Eagle Creek trail, even though it’s raining and I’ll get drenched. The creek is full and there is water everywhere. I love the places where it just drips and the saturated moss is the most intense, indescribable green. I like to put out my tongue and lick droplets off the moss and coiled fern fiddleheads. Moss has a dark, earthy taste. There are wildflowers everywhere–speckled fairy lanterns, bright yellow lilies, and trilliums, lovely in magenta, lavender, and white. In the rain, the petals are translucent and semitransparent. I hike to the Punchbowl falls, plunging into a cauldron-like pool, and I decide to continue on and see what Loowit Falls looks like with so much rainfall. It’s another hour’s hike up the trail, but how could I not go? It’s turning out to be such a magical day. There are waterfalls everywhere along the river where the overflow from the rain is spilling over the tops of the cliffs. The trees are leafing out at last after being bare all winter, and with the abundant water and the new green, I’ve come on the best day of the year! Along with the rain, I pass through clouds of mist… I feel like I could go on and on forever.
Loowit Falls doesn’t look real. It’s like something in a dream, plunging down into an almost perfectly round little pool before continuing on through a narrow crevasse to the river. The trail snakes along the side of a cliff, and the waterfall plunges on the other side of a giant chasm. I stand gazing at the falls and at the creek rushing over boulders hundreds of feet below. There’s something very feminine about Loowit, her round pool, and the narrow stream of water emptying out of it. In the old legends, Loowit was a goddess. She eventually ended up becoming Mt. St. Helens. Her waterfall is completely inaccessible, only to be yearned for from across the canyon, to fill you with awe but never to be touched.
I continue on up to the High Bridge, which overlooks a spectacular narrow gorge. Past the bridge, I find a sheltered spot under a cedar tree where I can eat the almond butter and honey sandwich I brought.
On the hike out, I keep having to stop and examine the exquisite tiny flowers growing out of mossy stumps and popping up out of cracks in the rock. I tell myself I’d better hurry out; hours have passed. The days are still short and it will soon get dark, but I just have to keep stopping. I crouch down to look at a patch of fairy lanterns, with the roar of the river rushing below, green everywhere, and suddenly a winter wren calls, filling the air with the most clear, soaring, sweet song. I don’t have to die to go to heaven—this is heaven! I pass a rock next to the trail, studded with cracks and holes, and in every little opening, an endless variety of tiny plants peek out. I say a prayer for Daddy, knowing he would love this place. I pray for him to be here, in a place like this. He didn’t choose to do much growing in his lifetime and maybe he will have to deal with the things he did, but what better place to grow than here, where life is just bursting out everywhere? When I pray the Rosary, I always end with a prayer for him to rest in peace, but now, instead, I want him to be here at Eagle Creek, on a day exactly like this one, in the rain and the mist. He would really love it here.
In the gently falling rain, the song of the wren bursts out again, and a strange peace comes over me. I continue on and leave Daddy here to heal and grow in this little piece of heaven.