For the second time of my life, I got to see Unkai -- a sea of clouds -- yesterday, and it was a beautiful sight to behold. A little past noon, my brother, my mother, her friend Stu, our dogs, and I went on a hike up Harp Mountain. To be honest, I was a little hesitant to go on a hike: the weather was cloudy, the mountains seemed to be completely covered in fog, I have already climbed that mountain three years ago, and I did not want to miss a Frisbee game later on in the evening. But Stu said that we'd take a shortcut and be back in 4-5 hours, so I decided to give the cloudy Harp Mountain a try.
I'm glad I did. It turned out that walking through fog has its own charms. It was endlessly fascinating to watch my companions glide in and out of visibility, often disappearing in a passing cloud before reemerging several seconds later. Amur, our white Samoyed dog, was particularly good at becoming invisible. The mountain would have been an unsurpassable dramatic setting for Hamlet -- especially for the ghost. The fog and the cloud cover also made the temperature very comfortable for hiking. And, the fog provided a very interesting and intuitive grasp of what infinity feels like: knowing that there is land for miles and miles ahead (including the trail that we just walked on a minute ago), yet seeing only the very finite and variable 100 yards ahead.
After almost two hours of moderately intense hiking, as we were beginning to approach the top, we saw that the fog ahead of us was beginning to give way to blue sky. At first it seemed almost like an illusion -- a mirage, of sort -- but the blue hue ahead was unrelentingly calling us onward. Ten minutes later, as I was just several feet below the summit, an amazing sight came into my view. It was breathtaking, it was entirely unexpected, and it came with a force of a punch straight into my eyeballs. Just seconds before I was hiking through the gray mist, and yet here in front of me was a completely clear, blue sky. Underneath it, hanging over the huge Eagle River Valley, was Unkai -- a sea of clouds (Japanese). Sticking out on the sea of clouds were a handful of peaks. And that's all. Perfect silence, mountains, and an impenetrable sea of clouds over the valley.
It was grand to look over the Creation in such unique perspective. I was looking -- literarily -- over an elevated world. It was a world without commonplace details and busyness; it was a world of silent, monumental mountains. For the several minutes that I was alone on the summit, I had a Transcendental God's distanced view of the Universe. It was majestic. I felt remote -- almost detached -- from the Earth below, and yet the same sun that shone on me also shone on the sea of clouds ahead of me. Underneath the clouds, under two- or three- thousand feet of fog, was the rest of Planet Earth. The Earth was unquestionably connected to the summit, and yet we lived in two separate worlds. The Earth lived in the world of gray; I, temporarily, lived in the world of blue skies and a sea of clouds. What more could a man ask for?
If I ever get my own Samoyed dog, I will name him Unkai.