After a 7 month slog of working and going to tattoo school, followed by a month of working, writing and travelling to speak on both coasts, today was the first day in a long time that really felt like what people call a “day off.” I had things on my whiteboard, but all of them could wait.
I picked up my pal Rex, and we drove out to the Columbia River Gorge to do some hiking. I wanted to get some fresh air and exercise.
I knew it was supposed to rain. The Gorge is always beautiful, but in the rain, it’s a Chinese painting. The mountains disappear and reappear as wraithlike clouds blow slowly around them. There’s a mythic feeling to it that makes it easy to understand why our barbarian fathers believed in mountain spirits.
As we drove past Hamilton Mt., some sunlight caught his cliffs and I said, “I want to go up there.” We crossed the Bridge of the Gods and backtracked to the trailhead. It’s a difficult hike. It’s not Everest, but the switchbacks are steep and precarious. If you keep a good pace it still takes a couple of hours to summit the mountain. I’ve done it before, and it was exactly what I needed.
It rained most of the way up. During the last half mile, there were fewer trees, and we were exposed. That’s when the rain turned to hail. We kept going, stopped at the top for a few minutes, then unceremoniously headed back down the mountain.
The hail really started pounding. I hadn’t bothered to wear a hat, so I was walking with my hands on my shaved, freezing head.
There was a flash of light that felt “right here” in the clouds — not “up there.”
Thunderstorms aren’t that common in the Pacific Northwest. I jumped a little, then chuckled at myself and shouted: “CROM!”
Rex and I laughed, exhilarated from the epic weather.
As we continued down the exposed path, I thought, “This is probably not the best place to be in a thunder and lightning storm.”
Then, I corrected myself. After everything I’d accomplished in the past couple of years, I realized that I couldn’t think of a better way to die.
What an awesome death story! I write a successful book about manliness, give a speech about becoming barbarians, hike up a mountain into a hailstorm, shout “CROM!” and get struck dead by lightning?
GODS die like that!
DO IT. DO IT NOW.
So, for about ten minutes on a mountain today, I was completely resigned to death by lightning strike. I was happy. I was scanning the clouds with a smile on my face. I was looking forward to it.
After the storm calmed down and we could hear each other, Rex said, “Well, I can’t feel my feet. If they have to cut off my foot, I’ll finally get to build that raptor claw.”