Heat and Frigid Water

Drifting. Drifting on dry land as alcohol and chemicals flow through my veins. The stars are somewhat obscured by the clouds but they’re visible. Makes me realize it’s probably later than I realize, maybe 1 or 2 a.m. We had the longest day of summer not long ago, we had a fire and drank as the sun slipped behind the mountains of the North Cascades and a sickly glow filled the atmosphere for another hour. We were kids and I don’t guess it’s really been that long since we whooped and hollered around a smoking fire beside the river.

A local kid’s older brother has come into the community for a few nights and wants to party, so everyone heads out to silver bay for a campfire and some relaxation. Lawn chairs are brought out and laughter swirls through the air as particles of cedar are vaporized. There’s been a homemade sauna sitting on the shores of the Stehekin river for a while, but noone has ever mentioned it. Myself and 4 others, walk over to the dilapidated looking shed and strip down naked and get into the sauna. There’s enough room for us to fit comfortable but awkwardly close enough to make you laugh. I lean my head back and rest it against the coarse lumber that traps the heat and steam and young souls.

We leave the heat of the sauna and plunge into the waters of the cold stehekin. Miles and miles northwest it is being fed by the glaciers that cling to the ribs of sheer mountains. Each year it loses it’s grip a little more. We come from the water gasping for breath, the cold air permeates our lungs and we shout curses and praise for being alive and for being foolish. We were enamored with a moment then, I believe each one of us, or at least myself I am certain, was truly contained and expressed within that moment. The mountains look down from lofty pedestals and witness another generation of strange two legged creatures, a glacier in and of ourselves.  We repeat the process of sauna to river 4 or 5 times until we’re satisfied.

We leave the sauna to find the fire unattended and the once rowdy party silent and abandoned. We sit around the fire and chat, nothing super heavy or existential. Just talk about random stuff, funny stories and future adventures. I’m not sure how long we sit and talk for, but the fire dwindles down and we eventually part ways. The path in front of me shakes and sways in the small spotlight of my headlamp, a crescent moon hangs above the tree tops and it’s light filters through the branches of the trees. Youth isn’t always wasted on the young.

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