Outdoors

Cloud Dance

Learning to love the mystery

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds.
—Henry David Thoreau

The North Cascades are capricious. These mountains hide themselves in veils of cloud for days at a time and then coquettishly reveal their sensuous lines to us dusty pilgrims. A little bit here. A little bit there.

After decades of observing this numinous cloud dance, one learns to go with it, to appreciate the rituals of sun, rain and cloud, and eventually—if one hangs around these hallowed mountains long enough—to savor the poetry of the unseen.

These cloud-swaddled mountains remind me of Radio City Music Hall. When the clouds lift, it’s like the curtain going up. And the show is always spectacular. True, sometimes intermission lasts for a week, but hey, all good things come to those that wait.

Of course, sometimes the clouds are nowhere to be seen and the sky is an open book of blue. I have no quarrels with this. But honestly, the true essence and beauty of these mountains is revealed by the swirling mists that frame and accent the peaks and pillars, disclosing and concealing, constantly changing, highlighting first this summit and then that one.

If the North Cascades were a film, it would be directed by Ingmar Bergman, not Steven Spielberg.

To connect with the muse of the dancing clouds you will need to spend some quality time at select locales. There are many of these places that offer stimulating vistas of varying distances. The Black Buttes on Mt. Baker are a great place to watch the cloud dance. High Pass, near Winchester Mountain, is another. Lake Ann. Heliotrope Ridge. You get the idea.

But, of course, in addition to your hiking gear, you will need patience; not necessarily easy to come by in our Instagram age.

It is vital to ease into the slow lane, just for a while. If this is difficult, bring a book with which to occupy yourself while waiting for the dance to begin.

But ideally, you should sit and watch the sky. The anticipation of seeing the unseen is good for the soul. We have become wired for instant gratification, but those schematics can be modified. And, let’s face it, delayed gratification can be very sweet indeed.

Clouds, of course, come in many forms. Particularly beautiful are lenticular clouds, lens-shaped clouds that form above high peaks. When conditions are right, they will sometimes stack up above Mt. Baker’s summit. Lenticulars have been confused with UFOs on occasion due to their flying-saucer shape—although I suspect alcohol might have been involved in those cases.

Sometimes. at the end of the day, if the light is just right and your shadow is cast downward onto clouds from a high place, it will be surrounded by an aura of rainbow colors. This is called the Brocken Spectre and it is something to see.

So don’t dismay when clouds gather. Enjoy the mixture of opacity and translucence and savor the shifting skyscapes of our wondrous corner of the world.

BTown
More Outdoors...
Grand Larchery
A quest for autumnal art

As September unfurls its autumnal colors, my thoughts turn to the realm of the magnificent larch forests, high on the eastern slopes of the North Cascades. Actually, forest is too strong a word. Larches gather in “stands,” not forests. The high country they inhabit cannot support forests.…

more »
Water Week
A resource worth celebrating

When rain fell late last week, and again over the weekend, it was the first time in almost three months that Whatcom County had any “wetting rain”—rainfall that was widespread over an extended period of time.

And although the soggy Saturday likely threw monkey wrenches into outdoor…

more »
Sh'Bang!
An end-of-summer spectacular

Under the list of “things you’ll need and maybe want” on Sh’Bang’s website are a flashlight or headlamp, rain gear, warm clothes and layers, camping gear, a refillable water container, things to share, some of your own food, earplugs, musical instruments, costumes, water toys and mermaid…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Lynden Farmers Market

12:00pm|Front Street

Together for Peace

6:00pm|Majestic

Stream Tour

6:00pm|Whatcom Creek

Day of Peace observes those displaced by war

6:00pm

Trash Talk

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Travel Talk

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Chuckanut Radio Hour with Nancy Pearl

7:00pm|Village Books

Authentic Illusionist Jay Ownehouse

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Trove
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Whatcom Falls Park

Ferndale Farmers Market

3:00pm|Centennial Riverwalk Park

Foof Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Farm Tunes

6:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Oktoberfest Cruises

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

The Last Outrageous Women

7:00pm|Village Books

7-Day Dance Festival Finale

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Friday Night Flicks

7:30pm|Van Zandt Community Hall

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

Welcome Back Students Shows

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Village Books Trove
Saturday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Oktoberfest Cruises

6:30pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Young Frankenstein

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Forever Plaid

7:30pm|Conway Muse

The Mousetrap

7:30pm| Bellingham Theatre Guild

Welcome Back Students Shows

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Figmentally, Circus for All

8:00pm|Cirque Lab

South Whatcom Birding Walks

8:00am|South Whatcom Library

Harvest Happens

8:00am|Bellewood Acres

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Southside Rummage Sale

8:30am| Our Saviour's Lutheran Church

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Make It and Take it

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Twin Sisters Farmers Market

9:00am|North Fork Library, Nugents Corner

Blaine Gardeners Market

10:00am|H Street Plaza

Little Mountain Trail 10K

10:00am|Carpenter Creek Winery

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Salmon Sighting

10:00am|Thompson Creek Bridge

Pesto Perfecto

11:00am|Ferndale Library

Council of the Animals

11:00am|Boulevard Park

Trial Vineyard Open House

12:00pm|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Sedro-Woolley Brewfest

2:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

The Art of Living

3:00pm|Deming Library

River Walk

3:00pm| Horseshoe Bend Trailhead.

Nooksack River Walk

3:00pm|Horseshoe Bend Trailhead

Kulshan CLT Community Party

5:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Democrats Dinner

5:30pm| Silver Reef Hotel Casino Spa

BowEdison Anniversary Party

5:30pm|BowEdison

Fall Demo Derby

6:30pm|Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Moment

7:30pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

Salsa Night

9:30pm|Cafe Rumba

see our complete calendar »

Trove MBT Janis Joplin Village Books BOB_2017 Bellingham Farmer’s Market Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 2020 Solutions Sept 2017