Kewe stares at the sheet at the bottom of the drawer. Reference to an old geological survey has been left here in the motel room!
It doesn’t matter. The plan decided upon in Seattle is to spend the weekend this side of the mountains, and if nothing happens to go
home. Nothing has taken place. It’s Monday morning. He’s going home.
Joking with the receptionist, he asks if she’s heard of any quakes over Seattle way. In case he might have to stay a few more days. She looks at him, not sure whether to smile.
He smiles anyway. Going home feels right. He’s scheduled to work late afternoon and he just hopes the highway will not be too busy.
A strange thing happens when leaving. Not familiar with the road from the motel, where the highways intersect by mistake he turns to the wrong road. Miles along when he sees a sign for Yakima, only then he notices the error.
He’s traveling south, not west. At the next U he could turn around, but now in it as much for the adventure, he continues south.
This part of the road to Yakima either side is surrounded by desert buttes. There are no houses. The sparse desert is very different from the coastal green plains that make up the west side of the mountains, and it’s a brown, dry change, the scenery every-where uninhabited, unoccupied bluffs.
A total surprise when the peak of Mt. Rainier appears on the right. The mountain suddenly standing out like a picture postcard.
Looking amply solid, encased in the many layers of ice he thinks, not at all due for such a change.
When the highway begins to curve, and the view of the mountain disappears, blocked by the downward hill, he follows the signs as the road takes him into the city.
The temperature outside is a hundred when he parks in a mall lot near the city center. He goes into the mall for a drink, to rest and think.
Sitting at a café table he remembers he never did get in touch with Sue. She’ll be at work now, but he has her office number.
He’s over in Yakima, he tells her. Taking the long route. Sue says she did get his call. It was late when she arrived home, that’s why she didn’t call back. What a surprise, she says, to hear he’s in Yakima. Come for dinner she tells him.
Her son Dan has a game he’s playing tonight, and she has to pick him up, but her younger son Steve will be home. She should be back by seven. Kewe thanks her for the offer of dinner. He calls work, tells them he’s been delayed, won’t be in, then on his way out of town stops at a tourist office for the direct route.
“You take this road,” the guide says, looking at the map that Kewe’s holding. “Turn off here and the pass road is to the right. Once you’re over the pass, follow the signs.”
Kewe has to bring up the weather, the fact it’s so hot. “All we’ve had this year is clouds and rain,” the woman answers abruptly as if she has some thoughts but won’t express them. “It’s been most unusual.”
“Is that so,” Kewe smiles. “It looks like you have summer here now though. This is too hot for me.”
Driving away from the sun-drenched town, he decides to stop off in the mountains and perhaps take a walk. It’s not yet twelve and the distance to Sue’s house is about a hundred miles. He has all of the afternoon.
Leaving the Yakima desert behind, soon he’s surrounded by ponderosa pine, a duskiness to the road with the conifers. Through the stands of trees, sunlight streaks.
The ponderosa pine goes on for miles and miles, the temperature drops. He decides to turn off onto a dirt lane.
Past a marshy lake full of flowers, at a bridge over a small river, he pulls into the side grass, gets out of the car. From the bridge the riverbed looks shallow, surprising him, a thunderous roar is coming from somewhere.
Crashing through the wild undergrowth to explore, he beats his way through the bush, follows the sound.
Thick jungle clears to a trace of a path and as he follows he must be getting closer, the sound is becoming much more intense. It seems so strange to have this booming volume and he wants to see where the roar originates.
In a natural clearing he sees a large boulder cracked at the center. A piece of rock five feet high with a tree growing through it.
The tree has split its main limb so that one trunk grows upwards. The other trunk is growing across the cleft of the boulder.
The roar is behind the sideways limb, the thick foliage.
Inching his way along, Kewe pushes though the leaves and branches, climbing the sideways trunk at its almost horizontal angle.
Suddenly he’s realizing the ground no longer is a few feet beneath him. The limb has grown over a huge abyss. Water is arching over a waterfall, plunging, two, three hundred feet below.
He’s perched right over the open side of the fall, with nothing to hold either him or the tip of the trunk, which is now more like a branch, and the limb is swaying.
Deep and powerful is the deafening boom created by the plummeting water. Spray right in his face.
With the clouding mist he can barely make out where the drop is, cannot see the actual depth.
But if the branch cracks it will certainly kill him. He dare not move.
The limb sways, shakes, and begins to sag precariously.
He’s thinking it’s not going to hold. Then, just when he knows he’s going to crash into the fall, the weirdest thing happens.
Lifted by some force, he’s brought back from this part of the limb to where he can clamber onto the solid cleft of the rock.
As he jumps off the rock, as he makes his way back through the bushes, the shock hits.
It isn’t that he could feel himself in the air, not actually being lifted. It is just one moment he is on the branch over the waterfall, then the next he is by the rock.
Off guard, he tunes to an inner voice telling him he needs to be on his journey. Powerful energy surrounds him. He can feel the wave of power as he gets into the car.
Something is being added to his presence as he drives back along the dirt lane and turns to the pass.
Soon the road begins to twist and wind and the car weaves between rock face one side of the road and forested slopes the other. As the car ascends the steepness, water slides down the sheer rock face deep furrows etched into the gray.
The higher he climbs, the forests give way to dramatic drop offs. The more he climbs, the more he senses the freeing.
His ears close which brings on a sort of ‘other world whisper.’ As if outside the car is rarefied non-air and inside, a quieter zone, a pocket, and whatever physical matter remains, is the car.
The car windows, the drone, the soft engine burr, a screen protecting the body.
The other energy is there also, creating its own powerful rush.
Snow patches, icy clumps show at the side of the road. The ascent is steep now.
The sweeping expanse where the trees have given way, a panoramic sight opens of glaciated peaks.
Then at some moment as the car climbs it’s like being sucked through pores of a skin. He’s a bubble entering into some world, where this non-seeing presence is all around.
Some state, too light, too ephemeral is taking hold.
It’s so quiet.
Kewe tunes to the swooshing, fanning air that whispers. Inside the most delicate music.
Utterances seem to be dancing as they prance inside his head.
Utterances telling him to use his mantra.
“HU,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,” he begins to chant.
The mystical prayer reverberates deep into this other heaven.
“HU,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,u,” he sings.
All around a delicate aria, and in the tone, in the increasing clearness of his mind he absorbs the power.
From the rock, from the air, from the slab where he’s perched, thousands of feet nothing below, his mantra and then a new sound.
It rises slowly, the new throbbing.
From the depth below it comes, an uncanny, strange element etching into his body.
Through him it spreads, and for a moment it touches, scans who Kewe is.
Yielding it comes again, gently to touch.
Kewe hears it in his soul.
As shimmering phosphorescent light begins to pour though the open spot on Kewe’s head, in this delicate, incredible feeling he reaches for the inner HU.
A peace descends.
The waves, the flooding of absorbing light, he feels the presence from below leave.
How long he sits, he doesn’t know. When he opens his eyes, a profusion of hues surge through his vision.
He sits, gazes, remains still as wind whistles.
The wind, the rock, and him, nothing more.
Wandering back, two people hold hands by their car. Valleys, cirques, the steep, scoured out stone below....
He thinks he still hears the music.
He looks at the mighty snow-capped peaks.
For a time he has been in the in-between.
The earth will not move today.