Between Worlds

Yesterday was a day of strange magic –

our day trip planned,

we headed south, but then directions led us awry –

we lost time.

Later we made a quick stop at the last store on the road.

Like the middle of nowhere, a strange feeling there –

I shoved my wallet in my right pocket,

and my phone in my left. I used the facilities, walked back to the car, and

one pocket was empty. No phone.

Just gone, as if by


I made a big effort to let go-

(no, I said to myself, it’s NOT my identity, not my tether to the world. There are

more substantial tethers: wonder, the veins of green leaves, pounding waterfalls).

Driving south on the winding mountain road, we notice

Search and Rescue trucks

parked on the shoulder.

We don’t see what happens a few hours later: her


brought down the


old desolate, she called herself.

Her last hike:

was there wonder, and

magic in it?

The turquoise Ohanapecosh River churned

a mile or so south of her last steps, it

thundered over ancient rocks, carving circles in them.

Ancient cedars and firs towered there – burled with rings of

wonder, bark woven, tiny blue flowers at their feet.

And bright pink flowers bobbed in the breeze on a wall of rock

that plunged

into the water, the frothy

turquoise Ohanapecosh, its power

hemmed by rocks that I scrambled across quickly, oblivious to

her body’s slow descent

a mile or so away.  I pranced joyfully on the rocks, too close to the edge –

as I always do.

And her body was found and brought down

to the waiting vehicles we passed

on our way to see tree giants and foaming rivers.


Our worlds reflect each other like Indra’s net –

jewels that mirror, worlds that almost touch, slender threads…

Her words perch on my Flickr page,

written on the day she left for

this last hike. She wrote,

“You captured the vastness…”

under my photo of a field and fencepost.


Vastness and

magic and yes,

she died, as they are saying today, doing-what-she-loved

on the mountain where

we wandered yesterday,

inside magic.

Karen Sykes, R.I.P.

Seattle Times article

Old desolate’s Flickr photos



    • George, I’m not surprised you would say that. It makes you think, doesn’t it? But now they’re saying she dies of hypothermia, and possibly secondary to a hear condition, and that’s not a pretty picture. But I don’t know. She was very, very experienced at 70 yrs old. She knew what she was doing. She walked ahead of her partner and didn’t come back. The rest is still half mystery…


    • Thank you – she wasn’t really a friend, but someone I wish I had met – our interests and passions are similar. I look at her Flickr page and some of the photos look so much like photos I’ve taken – her last post was about a hike in a place I went to recently, etc.


  1. This is such a poignant post, rich in visual and also just a love for life. The 4th photo reminds me so much of hiking and just being washed up with all the beauty around ~ which makes this area a great place to live. Well done.


  2. There is a sadness, of course, in our world losing someone of her caliber, but at least it was in that manner. Thank you for the tribute…your beautiful words.


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