|Along Washington’s North Cascades Highway
I never see one of these mountain waterfalls without thinking of a story I heard years ago about Washington’s Cascade Mountains. A friend had been searching for an old mine he’d been told about when he stumbled across the rotted remains of a cabin. Nearby he spied a tunnel, like any other abandoned mine tunnel except for the twin watercourses plunging down the mountain on either side of the opening.
Poking around, he found a few blacksmithing tools among the rotting logs. A rusted shovel leaned against the tunnel’s wall. As he prepared to leave, he noticed stones piled at the base of a sheer rock face as if someone had deliberately placed them there. Looking up, he saw these words painstakingly chiseled into the rock at about the height a person could reach if standing on the pile:
Eternal mounts, you have founts
Rolling down your rock-ribbed sides,
Like one weeping in the keeping
Of a watch that e’er abides.
Above the poem was etched the profile of the surrounding peaks.
I may never see that spot for myself, but whenever I gaze at one of our mountain waterfalls, I think of that unknown miner with a poet’s soul. I imagine him pecking away at the rock, leaving his words for someone to find, many years in the future.
My reality and his are starkly different, but streams continue to cascade down the sides of mountains. People still desire to leave behind something of themselves after they are gone. I feel connected.