...A symposium of meaning...

Alexander Volenski


The 'LINK' Center.

Mount Rainier: Chapters 1 & 2, Timelines/Light Messages...from the nature book 'The Mountain'.
Glacier Basin: Chapter 3...a day hike above camp...nice views.
Tipsoo Lake: Chapter 5...an evening visit to the alpine lake.
Mount St. Helen's: Chapter 6...a visit to the Volcanic National Monument.
A Poem/Places & People: Chapters 7 & 8...a poetical summery and references on Mount Rainier.
Volenski's page: The 'home site' of all LINKS and pages.
Empathic Expressions: 'Home site', the series, world mythology and ancient legends...18 locations on the planet.

Summer Land

The Mountain; (C)1994 (C)2005 A. Alexander Volenski
Unedited excerpt

An August visit to Mount Rainier National Park;
a nature book in 8-chapters.

Chapter 4, Summer Land

  The sun shown brightly along the road, it was mid-morning August 31 as I drove
from my camp at the White river Campground toward Fryingpan Creek.  I was heading
for the Wonderland Trail, the same trail which takes one to the mountainous
region named Summer Land.  This would be my first visit to that area of the Park,
and as I drove along the winding road I could feel the full grasp of Mount
Rainier taking hold.  A comfortable air of familiarity was beginning to shape
and form impressions, theme's, and expressions, all directed within one continuity.
  The harmony of Mount Rainier reached deeply within me as though the days that 
had passed were somehow interweaving within themselves, forming palpable
configurations which soared to make contact with my subconscious domain.  These
configurations then bounded quickly back into my conscious realm and seemed to
seat themselves upon an imaginary couch named 'Present Time'.  Each day of my
visit here had evolved within a song of its own, as the steps along the way
moved in rhythm, dancing to a melody new and capturing.  Intriguing the songlines
that I followed, as their tune seemed to come open like a timeless scroll
showing all.  Each harmony though unique and singular in quality, somehow
twirled in compatibility and symmetry, within the multitude of surrounding
compositions.  Such were the proportioned and persuasive patterns that I
found within Mount Rainier's dominion of the bush.  A place where seductive,
even suggestive emotions, were displayed with an exquisite array of receptive
passions.  As I hiked and strolled along, I let that emotional intensity of
the brush free to explore all that I was, and in so doing a fresh awareness 
began to quicken.
  The Wonderland Trail of Mount Rainier National Park extends 93miles around the
mountain, circling it completely.  It's a popular track that many hikers traverse
if they have 10days to two weeks; for it takes about that long to circumvent the
mountain.  The poetry/song of the Wonderland Trail I knew could be very good
reading if it was ever done.
  Today I was only going up to Summer Land, to take in the views and see what it
was like there on high.  Mattie, a friend of mine who was staying at the White
River Campground, had mentioned this hike with a kind of day-dream look in her
eyes and hinted I should "have a look".
  The term Summer Land had a nice tone, and though I only found it as a spot on
a map, I imagined meadowy lays filled with euphoric verse of the pleasant kind.
A place to see, where the imaginings inspired by tranquil surrounds, might find
their way into a reality.  Yes, inspired emotion could have its day there on
high, within the pleasant meadows of summer.
  ...The main highways that lay around Mount Rainier, of course only offer certain
vantage points to view the snow capped-apogee.  As one hikes the trail, climbing
the steep switch-backs that go over ridges, one beholds that frosty snowy peak
of impressive mountain in many different and singular ways.  The array one sees,
emerges and cascades with a timeless strategy of permanence.  Substantial, durable,
lasting, anchored and correct, the mountain reaches out to us as its visual
entity, swirls, twirls, and whirls toward us, through the invisible air.  And our
life, our personality, emotion and promising essence, becomes hearty, formidable,
and alive with eagerness.  Eagerness coming as a tickle that lets us laugh.  The
mountain's visual entity tickles our senses, and awareness is joy, even mirth
in a form of laughter for our mind.  We shouldn't be deigned that laughter, nor
overlook where the tickle begins.
  The veiled spirit and vigor of the mountain, hidden or unnoticed as it often is,
appears to be absorbed by the identity within us, like the soil of earthy absorbs
the soothing rain drop.  Thus, a significant message is absorbed in a kind of
dimensional level within, and awaits our acknowledgment of it.  This inspiration
(spirited vigor) which comes so freely from the mountain, brushes against us
in a small and simple way, as it helps us strive and silently attempt to define,
know and even learn to realize, the amazing spirit whose name is Awesome.
Awesome and Awe, are 'personalities' in themselves, enthusiastic, provocative,
passionate, and identified in ways seemingly attached to the emotional realm
within us.  Emotion, is a very undefined domain in many ways.  Who really
knows the feeling, force, and energetic drive of emotion, which we all have
pulsing within us, and where does it truly originate?  We must embrace our
emotion and understand it, and perhaps that is what the mountain strives to
do for us, through the spirited couple, Awesome and Awe.
  Awesome and Awe both walked along the trail, and heard the chirping of a
call from Emotion, and the both glided and soared toward that chirping to
make contact.  Then laughter was heard, human laughter, and in a hidden way,
Awesome, Awe, and Emotion, knew they had been realized and recognized, within
the cognizance of a human being.  Then all three, looked to the mountain and
realized an even greater joy, for that sweet entity of the mountain now smiled
upon them, and it all was good...
  Arriving at the parking area next to the bridge of Fryingpan Creek, I parked
my 4X4 dodge pickup, grabbed my gear, locked everything up, and walked to the
trail head.  It was 10:42am and mild, the air I breathed was cool, I could feel
it fill my lungs, and it felt stimulating as it seemed to reach deep into the
depths of my body.
  Fryingpan Creek is fed by Fryingpan Glacier, which lays against Little Tahoma
Peak on the east slope of Mount Rainier.  Fryingpan Glacier rises from 7800 to
about 8800ft and is elongated horizontally.  Above it is  Whitman Glacier,
which embraces toward the top of Little Tahoma Peak.  Fryingpan Glacier some
say, was so named because it is shaped like a frying pan, and there are other
accounts that claim the name originated from travelers who lost a fryingpan
somewhere in the area.  Here I paused to ponder for a moment the enigma I
perceived woven in amongst names, and the naming of places.  I was sure that
there was a better name for that site, and will it ever be known?
  The trail to Summer Land led through tall timber, very large trees and I
could see clearly for some distance for the forest was quite open.  On my left
Fryingpan Creek, and to my right and above, Goat Island Mountain.  It was very
peaceful here, and I had a feeling that the Indians of long ago had wandered,
maybe even camped in this area as they fished, hunted deer and elk, and gathered
berries and herbs for the coming winter.  It must have been very untamed and
hard during those centuries, struggling to survive the elements, bringing up
babies, and probably always apprehensive of unfriendly strangers that may
come on to them.  The Native American's, as in all cultures, have many social
and external challenges to over come.  However, if they stay close to the earth
and listen to her, I would say things will be clearer and easier.  I hope some
day that I may meet on a trail or ridge, one of the Natives, and perhaps have
a talk of things now, and of things that reach to the beginning, and also
of things maintained in the future.
  Hiking along I felt very relaxed, energetic, and wondered what kind of ethical
principles one might have or should have toward these natural surrounds.  Nearby
was a very large fir tree, and I sat down and leaned against it, and as I did
I rubbed the back of my head on its bark.  This fir tree, not ancient, but very
old, towered high above, where small top most branches looked down to other
forest trees below.  It was then that thoughts came to mind about a natural
responsibility, a responsibility one has to the world of nature.  A world that
we have occured in, a world attached to existence, and I wondered about the
conduct necessary to share all here.  As I sat, I reflected upon the Native
American's and other races of people placed as they are all over the world.
I too looked to this country (USA) with its multitude and variety of cultures
all striving to make a better life for family, friends, and self.  I also
viewed the Industrial Machine, which exist's in among the levels of our society.
All seemed quite vast when reaching out to these different levels of existence.
"Humanity's natural responsibility to nature must be addressed," I mused to
myself.  Then sitting as I was, under tall fir tree, an impression came to me
of an American Indian, and thoughts hovered within that impression, and the
thoughts that came went as follows.

    As I exist within this fluxing consciousness that I am, I will continue
    to walk and listen to the wind, hear and watch the birds, look to the clouds
    in the sky, contemplate the moonlight and stars, and feel the earth, and
    pass safely within and upon the water of streams.  I will heed the sounds
    of the elk and deer, the hawk, and other flying creatures, the coyote and
    bear.  I will observe the little animals and watch them all in pursuit of
    what they do.  I will appreciate them for only what they are, and respect
    them for what they are, and give them quarter if I can.  I will remember
    always to be selective in what I harvest, and what I do cut from nature,
    to show homage, and give something in return, and not be wasteful of the
    life giving source that abides for all.  As I travel upon the land and 
    smell the air with its message, and feel the cold and rain and snow, I
    will also feel the warmth of the sun, and a glowing fire that warms me.
    In this I shall always remember, "not to abuse nature, nor the animals,
    birds, and fish," for abuse is contrary to the living nature of existence.

  These thoughts which came swiftly and clearly, continued on and relayed
much more than I have written here, and it would be so good to be able to
tell it all in detail, so other's too could know; and I rubbed the back of
my head against the tall fir tree again.  Standing, I ran my hand over the moss
covered bark of that fir tree, smooth it felt in a rough sort of way, and I
looked up its trunk toward the sky, this was a very old tree probably near
2 centuries; the sky was hidden from sight, thick the upper canopy.
  I walked on for awhile and began thinking of the Natives that roamed here
over the centuries, trying to grasp perhaps just a little glimpse of what it
may have been like during a summer day such as the one I now experienced.  Yet
those thoughts struggled within me as I tried to reach out, perhaps I was not
considering how much there was to comprehend, and I reminded myself of the
vastness and measureless acumen (insight), and that some things (of awareness)
are not always revealed quickly.  This I could accept as real, sort of a human
necessity I reasoned as I walked on.
  The location on the trail I had now reached had flattened out, for on both
sides of the path the land was quite level for a considerable distance.  This
was so, except for a large mound of earth that was on my left toward the creek.
I stopped and scanned this large pile of dirt which had many firs growing upon
it, somehow this mound seemed atypical, peculiar and unusual, placed amongst
this level ground.  I continued walking not giving this any further notice,
and then up ahead I saw another mound like the first one, but this one was
much larger, and very tall and completely circular.  The mound was on the
left too, toward the creek, and also had large trees growing upon it.  Two
mounds, one small and the other large, very immediate and near each other.
I surveyed the entire area thinking about landslides, for how did these gigantic
mounds of earth get here and why were they so perfectly round.  As I have said,
the surrounding area for a very great distance in all directions was exceptionally
level.  I considered now that these could be man-made, from another era, a
history now lost to the Chronicle of Forgotten Time.
  As I hiked on, I continued to think of this oddity within the forest near to
the creek, and I let my imagination wander upon the threshold of an unknown,
to see what may arise.  Only speculative reflections came to mind.  A burial
ground, or perhaps a place of some type of gathering by those who lived here
in another lapse of time.  I knew it would take some convincing for me to
agree that these dome shaped mounds were from a natural occurrence.

He was tall
and slender
with night dark hair,
he stood and looked
to see me there,
he did not move
nor speak to me,
but he knew how good
this seemed to be,
for now he had
met someone who,
might converse
at last in verse.

This all but seemed
filled with awe,
this shared glimpse
before the fall,
and in the light
that was so dim,
only thoughts
spoke within.

T'is very hard
to be sometimes,
quick and clear
with unknowns near,
for often when
we reach to them,
the things they bring
don't always sing,
and in the silence
of the mood,
reaction plays
and can be rude.

They were two
he and her,
she was short
petite and calm,
with hair as soft
as duckling down.

Her gown was grey
weaved by day,
her feet were bare
and liked to play,
her hands did know
how to sow,
were strong and small
and could strike a blow.

They played at love
from dawn till dusk,
they swooned at noon
to see the moon,
when-ever came
the night of cold,
they held each other
within a fold,
they knew not how
to grant a wish,
but knew how too
catch the fish,
together they climbed
high to sky,
to watch the birds
as they did fly,
and in the time
when winter nears,
they went together
to chase the deer,
t'is then of cold
they found the old,
and came to rest
within a crest.

The stream does flow
as does the snow,
the trees are dim
small light within,
'we are at least
like feathers close,
to each other
more than most,'
just her and I
in sweet refine,
reaching out
to our kind.

So when you climb
and pass the hill,
stop for awhile
in forest still,
and if we can
send nature's boon,
when on you way
in light of day,
perhaps you'll find
a keepsake there,
and know it was
a gift we shared.

  Further along the way the trail came close to the creek, a place where solid
rock was cut through by the working force of water.  The water roared over a
narrow gape in the rock and plunged on down, moss grew here and there on its
sheer face and was very deep green the moss; this was a very perilous view
from where I stood looking to the waterfall.  Gazing up-stream, I could see a
rocky area where big boulders lay, pulled down by the constant millstone of
gravity.  Wide pathways existed like fingers, where slides of snow and rock
had opened and cleared within the exhaustive plunge of collapsing mountain.
As I observed and traced the contoured clumps of boulders, sunlight seemed 
bright there, and I felt as though I should climb up that gorge and have a
look around.  I didn't venture in that direction, perhaps another time.
  Mountain willow and other green vegetation had sprouted everywhere and
seemed to hang like tapestry within the steep mountain ravine; the different
shades of green would be a challenge to capture with oil and brush.  I felt
a pull up to the ridge on high, inquiring sensations, inquisitive yet formal,
and I could almost sense something was looking down at me as I stood there
on the trail feeling the hot August sun.  The promontory I saw, I took for
Panhandle Gap, but it could have been an unnamed peak at 6798ft.  Sarvent
Glacier was somewhere in that area 2000ft up, further than what I probably
could see from where I now stood, and I proceeded on through the forest.
  ...I was hiking the south side of Goat Island Mountain.  Goat Island Mountain
at 7288ft is shaped like an island, thus the name, and it has mountain goats;
the trail now angled along its southern side.  On the opposite perimeter (side)
of this circular mountain from where I now stood would be the White River
Campground, my hearth while I stayed here in this area.  This lofty region
opened up as Fryingpan creek streamed through it along with the trail I was
on.  Here the vegetation increased, and there was a small wooden bridge to
cross the creek, and also a wash with large stones to foot across on.  The
options of the trail were plentiful, so it seemed, as I hiked along, and that
gave this hike variety, making it an enjoyable journey.
  ...The meadows of Summer Land are rolling and small with alpine trees here
and there, the soil was dry and light colored with a lot of short vegetation,
and there is a large rock shelter.  Little Tahoma Peak seems close here and
Mount Rainier a little flatter.  One can see Steamboat Prow and the Emmons
Glacier laid in stillness upon the mountain.  I looked northward slowly toward
Goat Island Mountain, scanning its terrain and listening to my instincts.
There were a lot of open areas showing dirt and rock near its top.  I glassed
those tracts for they seemed alive, sort of dancing with energy, and near the
top in a small group I glimpsed a band of elk bedded in the open.  There were
many brief meadows, and I was surprised to see the elk this time of day in
the open, for it was 12:30pm and very hot.  One large bull and a few cows were
all that I could make out, for the distance was long, yet worth going to in
sight and I wanted to be there in body.
  To my left looking SW, was Meany Crest 7973ft and what I took to be Fryingpan
Glacier.  The ice of that glacier was very light blue with a shade of turquoise,
depending upon how the light was shining.  The surrounding rocky ridges and 
slide areas, reflected many shades of colored stone and it appeared that this
locality had several different mineral compositions.
  ...Looking high up toward the summit (using binoculars), I could see climbers
like little black dots all in a row of four or more.  Slowly they were going up,
some were near the crown, some gathered in clusters, and some were lower; I
counted well over thirty.  Like small minute insects on a giants back, and I
wondered if this calm and quiet immensity of nature would awaken someday as
Mount St. Helens had more than a decade ago.
  Putting my glasses back into my pack, I turned and walked to the shelter of
Summer Land.  This haven from the weather is very grand, its side walls are of
large rock all cemented together.  The rafters were amply cut logs and the roof
made of cedar shakes which were new this year.  It was a three sided shelter 
and one could easily bunk here if the weather was harsh, wet, or snowing.
The log rafters were covered with many names, some in pencil, some ink, and
some carved in with a knife.  Over the years many delighted seasoned hikers have
come by this way to touch the mountain, to smell the meadows, to see what was
here, and many have left their mark in name and written word upon the silent
sturdy shelter of Summer Land; I left mine there too.  Walking out of the
shelter and along the trail toward a log nearby, it was there that I sat down
to have lunch.
  ...A little while later a couple came along the trail, they were older, 
probably close to retirement age.  The man had thin light colored hair with a
very smooth complexion and his wife short greying hair with a little darkness
here and there.  The man walked passed me but the woman stopped.  I spoke to her
commenting on how nice a day it was and how marvelous a place it seemed here in
the highlands.  She smiled and agreed, and we carried on a casual conversation
for some time.
  She said her husband was a naturalist painter in oil, and they both hiked many
places in the northwest to get settings for his paintings, and to just be in
the out-of-doors.  As we talked, her husband returned to where we both were and 
glanced at me as I slowly nibbled on my bread and cheese.  Then his wife asked
if I had been in the shelter, and I answered I had, and she said that former
President John F. Kennedy had been here too, and had placed his name inside the
shelter along with all the others.  She insisted I go with her to see, so I put
down the bread and cheese and followed while her husband looked on toward the
  We walked the short distance to the shelter, and once inside near the back on
the right, she pointed out to me written in pencil,
 'John F. Kennedy, Mass. August 1947'.
She said she had found it when they had visited here in the late 70's.  We both
looked at the words and noticed that someone had traced over his name in pencil,
so it would be more readable.  She commented that the tracing denoted or may
exhibit a question of authenticity.  Neither of us carried that part of our
conversation to the point of exact clarity, and left it to the Annual of Truth.
I felt it was authentic and knew she did too, and I asked her if she had put
her name here, she said she hadn't.
  We strolled out together and she commented that it was too bad what happened
to him (JFK), and I nodded in concordance and remarked to her that it was a
shame that one of our President's would have died that way.  She agreed speaking
in a very soft and tender tone of voice; she was a very gentle woman.  When we
reached her husband they both said goodbye and went upon their way.
  ...This was a place where one was pressed with the full impact of the mountain
in the distance, as it seemed to sing out in orchestration.  Mount Rainier, from
where I stood, sang out a silent song, as though melodiousness were present, a
silent kind of melody, one very similar to a symphony.  I imagined an open air
stage with conductor and all, the high notes of string and wind instruments
reverberating in tones harmonious, soothing, and penetrating.  It seemed, as I
let my imagination free to pursue these thoughts, as though a huge audience were
also here in attendance.  I pictured Chopin, or Mozart, Verdi, or Stravinsky,
all part of a huge performance, their hands and fingers in unison as they
moved them along the key-board playing at will.  Perhaps on just such a sunny
afternoon in August, somewhere in a once removed distant mountain kingdom, just
such a performance was taking place, and I felt a great emotion at the thought
of attending such a performance.  If only we could look into the world of
divine arrangement, perhaps such a view would help us truly know and understand
the ways of the heart.  I smiled deeply and could feel the full grace that 
my surroundings now inspired.
  When I looked at the mountain in the bright sunlight and glanced down, and 
then swung my eyes from the ground into the air, the sudden exhilaration and
infusion of brightness which came from the white snow and massive shape of the
summit of Mount Rainier, seemed to sing through to the silent meadow of my mind.
And again I was able to behold another motif for the word Awesome.
  Walking on, I neared a photographer and stopped and told him about the elk
that were across the valley and up on top of Goat Island Mountain.  He became
excited at the news, and headed hurriedly for a better vantage point to see
them as they lay bedded in the bright and hot sun of summer, which we were
experiencing after a cold and wet July.  I resumed my walk down the dirt trail
whistling 'Waltzing Matilda' a tune that has always been dear to me.
  The pace was fast now, all was descending, and I moved with ease feeling
the wind on my face, smelling the Hellebore, hearing the bees, and viewing the
many shades of flora, as I felt the heat on my lips and tongue from the hot
air of the day.  At the little wodden bridge I passed the naturalist painter
and his wife, but didn't stop, for I wanted to keep my stride going.  Inside
of myself there was a great joy of some sort, as though I was coming closer
to a part of myself that I had always wanted to meet.  I moved faster, almost
wanting to run, as the elation I felt seemed to build.  It was a very good
and deep feeling like one may have as they soar within the fervent and passionate
realm of unrestricted familiarity.  A complete spontaneous and uninhabited
sensation, natural and free floating, as the wind and breeze on high.  Somewhere
near the edge of where the tall tree's begin to align with the surrounding
openness, I slowed into my normal walk and it was then that I saw on the trail
a large feather.  I stopped and picked it up and smoothed it with my fingers.
The feather was white and gray with light brown on the edges, the gray tint
was very slight in its silver-white cobalt hue.  I recognized it to be that
of a Goshawk (Accipiter Gentilis), perhaps even an Eagle, and I stuck it in my
hat.  It must have fallen here since the time I had gone up.  I was very
pleased with this find, a gift of nature, and I accepted the feathered fineness
without reservation.  This plume is now added to my collection of memorabilia
(items of the wilderness) and I feel as though a part of Summer Land and
Mount Rainier have come home with me, within the presence of that feather.
  It was 2:32pm when I reached the truck and headed back to the White River
Campground where I would wash up, and take a little nap during the heat
of this day.

'It always seems
so new,
when I visit you,
and as the time
goes by,
I surely find within my mind,
simple things combined
with complex
riddles too,
that seem to fit
so nice,
to all the things
I do,
and as I hike
your trails,
and view the mountain too,
I cannot help
but really know,
that I'm
in love
with you...'
Mount Rainier 1993.


[Next, chapter 5, Tipsoo Lake; note: text is yet to be proof read]

                                        This page created May98
                                              updated 2005