I stood on the corner, listening to the silence. It wasn’t like the complete and absolute silence that one might find in outer space, nor was it like the silence experienced while adventuring far across the ocean in a distant land. It was the silence that can only be found in certain parts of the west.
The silence that extended out across the lake was as tangible as the water beneath us. Birds circled high overhead, darting down toward the water, landing on the distance. All around us the Universe continued its violent expansion, and yet the only sounds we could hear were our own. Josh’s rhythmic breathing cut through the air, while our paddles propelled us closer to our objective. Hardly a word was spoken between the steady, methodical strokes.
On a whim, Josh and I had left Salt Lake City at 9 o’clock the night before, driving the requisite four and half hours to get to Jackson, Wyoming. By the time we arrived and found a place to crash, it was 2 am. Exhausted, we spent an hour packing, unpacking, and repacking the kayak, in order to get all of our gear to fit. When we were finished, we decided to take an hour nap, a decision that would later prove to be frustrating.
Waking up at 4, we carried the kayak about ¼ mile to get to Jackson Lake. It was dark when we put in, and not a soul was in sight. The stars above arced out across the heavens, illuminating the lake with a billion points of light. 30 minutes into our paddle, the sun was lurking below the horizon.
To our west, we could see our goal, Mt. Moran, rising above trees that crept down to the shore. As the sun rose higher, light moved down its slope onto the lake, warming the air around us. Within minutes, we realized the day was going to be much hotter than we had anticipated.
After about two hours of paddling, we arrived at the base of Mt. Moran, pulling the kayak up onto the sand. The snow was still deep from the heavy winter, so we were able to start skinning just pass the edge of the lake.
Climbing higher and higher, we realized that we had misjudged how long it would take us. Arriving just below the final couloir we stopped to assess. Disappointed in our time management, exhausted from our lack of sleep, we briefly discussed our goal and decided to pull the plug. The weather was just too warm and the snow was quickly turning into crud.
The skiing wasn’t anything memorable; shitty concrete, pockets of creamed corn, mixed with some aggressive tomahawking down to the flats. What stood out to me though was the paddle earlier that morning; The blisters covering my hands. The water dripping down the paddle, soaking my shirt. The cool air against my face, The silence. It was definitely the silence.
A couple’s words float by on the wind for only metal and stone to hear. Deep silence washes over the two, as they stroll out on the pier. Waves crash around them, seagulls sound above. The reverence between the two is deafening. Standing apart, connected by space and time. Experiences that they’ve shared span the gulf between the long drawn out pauses. They watch the sea push against the shore for a minute. A minute that feels like an eternity.