Note: This is an intermezzo between two normal posts in “Our Little Road Trip” series, a shorter and not much of a travel related post but it was an amazing experience and I wanted to share it with you.
The sounds of Mother Nature comes closer to me and bring me from the land of dreams back to my consciousness. Well, Ella helps it a bit with the alarm on her phone and by shaking my shoulder.
“The sun isn’t out yet,” she speaks quietly and it takes me a few seconds to process what she’s saying.
“Well, we can watch the sunrise at the lake,” I answer, still too lazy to leave the warmness of my sleeping bag. I can feel the chilly air flowing through my nose and am honestly terrified to crawl out of the tent, convinced I’m going to turn into a block of ice the same moment I do so. But it’s just my sleepiness still playing games on me, I tell myself and clumsily get out.
Well, as I can see, originally, I wasn’t so far from the truth. On our tent, there’s a thin white layer of frost, even though disappearing immediately when I touch it – It’s still frost. I put my warmest sweater on and grab my camera while Ella is looking for her phone lost somewhere in the layers of sleeping bags and blankets in the tent.
“Found it!” she announces with a victorious smile and we can go.
Butte Lake looks… Cold. Colder than yesterday. We can see the light morning mist lazily drifting over the perfectly smooth surface and I shiver when I remember yesterday’s bath. I take some pictures but the sun is still quite far from raising.
We sit on a log and taking our shoes off, enjoy the smooth feeling of the black volcano ash on our skin. It’s like wearing silk socks, only thousand times better. I can feel the freezing sensation in my toes but can’t bring myself to putting my shoes back on.
One last bat circles above the lake and then disappears, leaving everything completely quiet. And it’s THE quiet, the quiet before a storm, or rather, before the inevitable waking of the world.
One sunray appears gliding across the sky and at that moment, everything wakes up. The birds start singing so suddenly that I almost fall off the log and the life just comes in, leaving me so surprised that I almost forget about my camera.
The sun is appearing from behind the black glass fields and hills farther away, fighting its way through the rolling clouds. Both Ella and I are speechless, just enjoying the moment. Everything is perfect, everything just is. Everything exists and lives and that brings me to the brink of pure ecstasy.
Before I know it, the sun is up and Ella… is up too, taking off her clothes and walking towards the lake. Wow. That sunrise must have been even stronger sensation for her than me, I think, as she bravely steps into the water and I snap a few pictures of her. Going so far that the water reaches half of her thighs, she turns around.
“Are you coming or not?”
I hesitate and half pretend (it’s half true) that I need to get that perfect photo of her in the water (not that she’s resisting, that’s partly what she went in the water for too). I hold onto my camera partly as an excuse. After a few minutes, Ella walks out from the water, her legs seem a bit blue-ish to me.
“Well, I didn’t swim but that was hell refreshing!” she speaks with a tiny bit higher voice than usually. And as I see the light in her eyes, almost involuntarily, I start taking off my sweater and walking towards the water.
It’s like a spell, the morning light reflecting on the surface, the life streaming through my veins with every heartbeat like a drug. I can’t help it, not that I have a clear enough mind to be able to actually want to help it – the lake is literally calling me to submerge in it, let it take charge.
My brain is still a bit sleepy and can’t take control over the situation while I step in the water. It’s so cold that I almost want to think about that it could be dangerous, but my head just can’t seem to start working and I feel the water surrounding my ankles, knees, hips,… and then I just let my body fall in.
IT. IS. FREEZING.
I forget for a moment about everything – even the fact that I need to swim to keep myself above the surface. But as terrifying as this experience is, at the same time, it feels GREAT (yes, in CapsLock).
Now, when reflecting back on it, I remember one of Joe Rogan Experience episodes where somebody says: “It’s almost like an anti-orgasm.” Well, this feels like it but at the same time, many theories say that everything is a circle. And in a circle, anti-orgasm and orgasm, if brought to an extreme, are the same things, right?
Wow, I have never thought that I would ever really write that word (or use it at all, remembering how unbelievably shy person I used to be and still quite am – thinking that I should probably not post this right now).
Keeping my head above the water not to wet my hair, because I didn’t really desire to get sick, I let the freezing sensation reach my bones, feeling each and every cell in my body as a separate being with its own separate consciousness. I feel my body like never before. It is quite a strong moment but lasts just for a few seconds as I bring myself to start thinking clearly and get out from the water before my behavior becomes dangerous to me (if it wasn’t all the time up to now).
The used-to-feel-freezing air is strangely warm now as my body lives in an illusion created by the coldness it’s been forced to face.
The sun is hidden behind fluffy clouds but still shines through a bit, forcing its way all the way to the ground and erasing the white morning frost.
And we are ready for a new day, the day when we go to hell.
Alright, alright, to Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic National Park. What did you think I was talking about?