The Shay Rebellion | Christopher Shay

Resting by a Mountain Lake.

I watched their flight, butterfly after butterfly; a flutter of wings in the scree, a zig-zag in the grass, and one monarch probing my sun-tan lotioned feet with her proboscis. I tried to count them as they darted around the volcanic rock: two, five, seven. Ten, because three flew from behind all at once.

Just one. I noticed a Great Blue Heron right in front of me, unimpressed by my presence. After inspecting the lake and finding the amount of fish simply unacceptable, she flew up to another mountain lake, hidden deep in the talus fields to my left. I lost her as she became a flattened ‘m’ against the snowfields of South Sister, like a bird I would draw in elementary school. A few minutes later, she flew away from the hidden lake, curving left and right as if hanging from an invisible pendulum as she floated on an updraft.

Eleven, twelve. The monarchs were still wheeling and swirling in the grass around me, distracting me from the heron. Two of the butterflies at my ankles were surely new. They had a fleck of green in their otherwise orange wings. Zero. The blue heron had disappeared by the time I’d looked back up—thirteen, fourteen—but the butterflies were everywhere.

The backpacking trip in the Three Sisters Wilderness was exactly what I needed between my time in Manhattan and my adventures in Hong Kong: a time to simply relax and count the butterflies.

See related photos: here, here, here, here, and here

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