I am going to attempt to recreate a scene with words. It will fall terribly short, but here goes. We are hiking out to the Loowit Falls at Mt. Saint Helens. While the landscape is stunning, it is so in a unique way. The area is still recovering from the eruption thirty-seven years ago. Where Rainer, and the other mountains in the Cascade Range are lush and green, Saint Helens is open, not quite what I would call desolate, but there are very few trees. It is mostly just miles and miles of scrubby little plants and wildflowers, as you’ve seen in some of my other shots. This is the scenery that we have been hiking through for several miles, climbing (or sliding) down into lava flows and scrambling back out on the other side to pick up the trail. It is truly an alien environment. Ahead of us we see yet another great split in the earth. Out of the middle of it is what I would describe as a small patch of scrubby, thin trees all packed together. Have you ever seen those weed trees we get around here? I call them weed trees. I’m not sure what they really are. They can grow as tall as smaller trees but they have a thin “trunk.” They are not pleasant to look at. That’s what this patch looks like. It’s about the size of an average front yard, maybe a half acre, very dense, surrounded by nothing but wide open meadows, and our trail seems to be running right into the middle of it. We can’t see through it, over it, or around it as we approach. Indeed, the trail disappears in the thicket and we have to crouch and weave to get into it. That’s when it happens. As if a thin curtain is pulled back to reveal the most breathtaking beauty ever beheld, a snippet of which you can see in this photograph. Literally, in an instant we leave the dusty open expanse of the waste and enter this lush green paradise, walled in by the scrub trees, almost as if we are in a room. The both of us are stunned into silent awe for a moment, and then we burst forth in jubilant shouts of excitement and wonder. We stay for a while, get some shots, and then continue on out the other side. I don’t know if I will ever see this place again, and thinking that I may not causes me pain.