I take a dip in the glacier water and begin counting my breaths. After fifteen or so seconds, I come out fluttering and sit on a rock. I put my glasses aside, close my eyes to the sun, and let it warm my uncovered skin. The whole valley sings to the tune of the river.
It’s the first sunny weekend in Washington State in an age. People in the Pacific Northwest wait and live, and wait to live, moments like these. I nap on a rock in the middle of Baker River surrounded by peaks of the North Cascades. It is more comfortable than my bed at home.
North Cascades National Park contains some of America’s most beautiful mountain scenery — high jagged peaks, ridges, slopes, and countless cascading waterfalls. On my hike, a ranger tells me there are over 1,700 plant species here — ferns and fungi, hundreds of birds, reptiles, and amphibians, and thousands of insects.
This landscape, however, is gradually shifting due to climate change. The National Park Service is working hard to preserve these parklands’ majestic mountain scenery, glaciers (more than any other national park outside Alaska), and other natural & historical features for future generations.
When I wake up, I have to rub my eyes to believe the reality. The austere grandeur of the North Cascades has me on the fine line between a dream and reality. I don’t know what time it is, but neither do I feel any need to know. I just know that now, then, is mine. And that now is mine.
In the moments of distraction, all it takes to bring me back to the present is attention. Beginning with my breath, feeling the rise and fall of my chest, then feeling my feet touching the earth, and the touch of the wind caressing my face. And realizing that NOW is mine.
This article originally appeared on Medium and is republished here with permission.