Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Close to the Mountain

Whitney Afternoon
6" X 9", Watercolor

On our last trip, we were the closest to Mt. Whitney we had been since our hike last fall. Whitney towered over our campsite, seeming close enough to touch. Saturday, we got even closer when we drove up to Whitney Portal to have lunch. Seeing the trailhead again brought back a rush of memories: this place marked the beginning and the end of the trip—this was the place where I was filled with fear, anxiety, elation, pride, and love.

I was overwhelmed with emotion.
(Bob: “Sioux, are you crying again?”)

When I am close to Whitney, I feel the mountain’s presence strong within my soul. And all of us that were there, we have a kinship. We have shared sweat and tears. Whitney gave us leave to climb onto its shoulder and look out over the world. It did not break us; it nurtured us and made us stronger. I will always have a bond with the mountain and with the dear ones who were there with me (and got me there in the first place!).

Saturday afternoon as the sun worked its way to the west, Whitney was lit through gaps in the clouds that had gathered over the ridge. The light kept changing as the clouds shifted. We contently sat in camp and watched the show above us. The sun was warm and intense, the breeze cool. We quietly drank in the surroundings; you could feel the collective peace.

I broke out my watercolors and predictably; the wind kicked up, tossing most of my gear off the table. I set up once again, with my palettes tucked under a tie-down strap. This was a "flow" painting. It was quick and effortless. The spirit of the mountain was with me.

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