Saturday, January 22, 2011

Washing My face In A Cold River: Seattle 1987

Just a short memory as today is cold and the water from the tap--normally warm down here where I live--is coming out cold. What I recall is a time I went camping in the rain forest in the Olympic Mountains. This was with Matt and Brock and, just east of Forks or wherever, we went into the National Park and to the rain forest and there was no one else there save one lone camper who had tons of collected wood and had stored it beneath plastic tarps although while we were there it did not rain in the rain forest. It was damp, grey-skied, a place full of huge trees and tree limbs and the thick drapery of moss, slugs and fungi. It was quiet and the trails led through the trees and over white-rushing streams and up mountainous hills. But what I'm thinking of is the morning I awoke and--this was a primitive camp--there was no running water, so I took my wash cloth and my bar of soap and went down to the river--the Hoh River, I think--and dipped my hands in it and it was ice cold! But, I wanted to wash up (I was somewhat fastidious about washing my face, a leftover from my teen years of bad acne), so I went ahead and lathered up (yes, I know you are not supposed to put soap in a fresh river, but really, this was a bar of soap and this river was fast and wide and I hardly considered it to be a pollutant) and I washed my face with that achingly cold water. Fresh water. Snowmelt/rain water. And it wasn't just the water, but it was the fact that I was more or less alone in a great woods leaning into a big cold river with woods and mountains and the gray un-raining sky above me. That's what I recall and miss.

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