It's no secret that mountains are my favorite landscape on earth. The adventure, mystery, and beauty they hold captivates me in a way that no other place does, and the journeys I've had in the mountains have transformed me more than I can say.
Earlier this summer, two of my best friends and I set out to explore a region of mountains that none of us had ever visited, Glacier National Park. We were all in need of some real exploration and adventure, and this remarkable place had been on our hearts for a long time.
On a personal level, I needed a break from a situation that had been gnawing away at me for far too long. My mind was overwhelmed and my heart felt like it was balancing on a knife edge. I needed beauty and fellowship, badly.
We set off from Seattle on an early July day, making our way across the expanse of eastern Washington and across the border of Montana. When the mountains finally came into view, a newfound lightness filled the air. This was exactly what we all needed.
And what better way start off a trip like this than a sunset summit mission?
The beauty of this place defied comprehension, and we'd taken but a few steps on this sacred ground. Lush meadows of vibrant wildflowers still damp from afternoon rain permeated the air with their fragrance and glacier-carved titans loomed around us in all directions, unyielding in their majesty. The clouds in the sky threatened rain, yet held the potential for a spectacular sunset. A large herd of bighorn sheep stepped onto the trail in front of us, compelling us to pause and watch for a while before continuing our upward journey. It was a delicate balance, knowing that the sun was hastening towards the western horizon, but wanting to savor every moment.
Sunset summits are a peculiar pursuit. They generally involve a high amount of physical effort in what can feel like a race against the light, and on an evening like this, there's a chance of clouds rolling in and obscuring the sun before it has a chance to create the golden light we all hoped to see.
And yet, the ephemeral nature of the golden hours of the day is what makes them so powerful, and so memorable.
We crested the ridge-line that would provide access to the summit and were met with one of these rare moments of short-lived, incredible beauty. Dark clouds traversed the sky, bathing the world in a deep, cerulean blue. In the west, vibrant, fiery beams of light erupted from the clouds, casting their glow across the distant landscape, illuminating each and every layer of peaks that sat between us and the sun.
It was awe-inspiring, and lasted for less than a minute. In that moment, I was blown away by the sheer grace of our timing. We arrived not a second too soon, and not a second too late. That's the thing about beauty, it will unfold with or without us, the natural world was created to be intrinsically beautiful. In almost every moment, there is an opportunity to seek what is beautiful, even if it is short lived, even if it only exists for a few breaths.
We pressed onward as blue hour set in, joyfully scrambling up the rocks alongside mountain goats and soaking in the profound wonder of these mountains. And this was just Day 1.