It is not common to find a perfectly good set of stairs in the clouds on the side of a mountain. Ready to assist any passersby, they stood steady and firm on the landscape.
It was raining but the day was bright and the air mild. Western Oregon is rarely a dry place. I don’t melt. I hiked into the cool, dripping coastal range, eventually climbing high enough that the trees became more scattered, more wind-beaten. The trail, slick with mud, occasionally crossed rock or split around washouts and pools.
I came upon the stairs not far from the mountain peak. Another half mile up a rock face and through twisted semi-alpine plants was the open summit, a granite bald with tortured metal-pipe railing, fully enveloped in cloud.
But the stairs? They were wooden, two by fours and four by eights. There were two sections with a landing and a turn in the middle. The upper section had a handrail on the downslope side, the lower stairs on both sides. The trail by-passed them completely, as if a displeased giant plucked them up, and set them again six feet out of line, but parallel, with the trail.
For 50 years, I was on a known path. It had mud and rocks and unexpected by-passes and washouts but it was well-worn and followed by many. I took this photo the day after my 50th birthday. Since then, I expect stairs in the clouds because they lead to the most amazing of places.