I shouldn’t be frustrated. Last night’s rain showers ended at first light and I can see the ridges on both sides of the Gold Creek Valley. Aki has traded sniffs with some dog friends and hasn’t growled at anyone except for an innocent looking longhaired dachshund that eyed her in fear. The sun is the trouble. To be more accurate, it’s the broken clouds that parse out the sun’s enriching rays. They roll back enough to release a shaft of light onto a patch of alders, all covered with dead leaves but not the solitary cottonwood tree that, in full sun, would be a yellow candle against its mountainside of green spruce. When sunlight does reach the cottonwood, I am busy bagging Aki’s scat. Poop in bag, I raise the camera and find the sun gone. I move up the trail. Sun shafts, like lightening, can’t strike the same tree. Whipping around, I see the cottonwood’s again jewel yellow leaves dull as the sun moves back to the alders.
It doesn’t get any better until we reached the overlook where we meet a stay-at -home dad shoehorning in some alone time before his child gets out of school. He gives me a little lecture on cloud formation (helpful) as out of the corner of my eye I spot the a shaft of sun turning a cloud of brown-yellow willow leaves gold. I ignore the show and listen. We part without enriching either’s day and I head back to Chicken Ridge. Multiple shafts of light escape the clouds and light up the view I had at the overlook. If I had done the right thing and sat with the man, had conversation, we both could have enjoyed sun light up the deep gorge and its still green covered walls, might have become friends. The teacher managing the clouds gives me two consolation prizes—a slash of light across the creek valley and an illuminated waterfall.