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Pine Bench

             The morning sky was still hazy with a low fog that left little droplets on everything around us. I could see a glimmer of sunlight struggling to burn through the mist. Contrasting the wild flowers scattered around where we parked and the darkness of the trail that disappeared up the mountain into the giant Douglas Firs. Knowing we would get hot later, I was wishing we had gotten an earlier start.
             Laeetts go! My brother Rich sings out as he hitches his pack up higher on his shoulder and starts up the trail. With a glancing smile towards my sister Sarah and her husband Roger and a shoulder into my own pack and turned to follow.
             It's not that far to the top, about 4 miles, all up hill. The trail climbs steadily through trees, so tall you can't see their tops, back and forth up the face of the mountain. I can hear Sarah and Roger on the trail behind me as I brush past some Ferns, soaking the legs of my pants. Being first, Rich gets it most of all except when he lets a branch swing back and it flings the remainder of its droplets into my face.
             My senses are alive with the essence of the rain forest. The play of light and shadow, the violet hues of Wild Irises, stark against the dark brown of soil, bark and dark green under growth. Another splash in my face and a trickle down my neck. Sarah laughs as I wipe water from my eyes.
             As we near the top, the Douglas Firs start to thin, offering a view of the fog, like a blanket, it covers all but the tallest mountains as far as the eye can see. Its warmer now and I feel like I"m getting my second wind.
             Rich disappears over the crest as my pace quickens. I know the site that awaits me yet I"m always amazed of the change. Like walking from one reality to another. The mountain just stops. Like somebody took a giant knife and cut the top off flat, about the size of four city blocks. The Douglas Fir trees are gone and have been replaced by sugar pine that seem to ring the entire top of the mountain yet leaving a wide swath of waist high grass all the way to the other side.

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