We’ve had a week of mostly cold and fog, even though the forecasts all say a cheery “Sunny”. Christmas Day was no exception. So this afternoon, I decided that if people around me are to survive, I needed to find sun. In the parking lot of the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum, a rather scruffy fellow driving a rather scruffy older model VW bug (my first car was a bug so I’m quite fond of them, scruffy or not) smiled and said, “There’s sunlight up on top. It’s beautiful!”
“That’s what I wanted to hear,” I answered. I unlocked my car, reached in and grabbed one of my poetry books to give to him in gratitude. Hope he likes at least one poem.
Howard Buford Recreation Area’s major feature is 1,516 ft. Mt. Pisgah This is a regional park, owned and operated by Lane County Parks, containing 2363 acres located between two forks of the Willamette River. The Arboretum is 210 acres leased to the non-profit Mt. Pisgah Arboretum. The main trail to the summit is located at the Arboretum parking lot although there are two other trails leading to the top as well.
I took the longer route (.4 of a mile longer one way) branching from the main trail because it offers an actual trail, before rejoining the gravel-surfaced main route. It was somewhat surprising to see so many people out on such a cold, gloomy day but I suspect they were all hiking with the same goal as I had. SUN!!
Winding up the mountain it was hard to see more than 75-100 feet ahead. Trees were ghostly shapes emerging from the fog and then disappearing almost immediately after I passed. As I walked next to trees, I thought it might be raining because there was a constant patter like raindrops on leaves. This turned out to be frozen droplets melting from the tree branches as the day warmed ever so slightly. As I neared the summit the fog thinned and soon rays of light beamed across the pathway.
And then there it was. Blue sky! Sunlight! And the excited voices of children and adults exclaiming over the miracle that greeted us. We were on a small island surrounded by dense fog below. Gone were the farmlands, the buildings, the trees. It looked solid enough to walk upon. Miles away, to the east, were forested mountains and beyond them the snow-covered volcanic peaks of two of the Three Sisters. A little further south was Diamond Peak, also white with snow. To the west was another very large basin of fog with just the top of Spence Butte (2,054 ft), part of a City of Eugene park, forming its own sunny island.
Sitting on one of the two benches that face to the east I took off my pack, took off my gloves, unzipped my jacket, poured a cup of hot tea from my thermos, and ate a late lunch.
The return trip was cold, damp and dreary. But as I write this several hours later, my mind and heart are still filled with sunlight on mountains and the brightness of that silent sea of fog below. The man was correct in thanking his spouse for making him “drag his butt up here.”