The assignment for the afternoon was to quietly sit on the ridge across from the mountain and write down any observations. Dana waited for something to happen to report, but after 15 minutes all she saw was a solitary bird soaring above. She couldn't tell what kind.
As mountains go, it wasn't all that exciting. There were patches of pine trees, patches of rockiness, patches of grasslands and patches of snow and a patch of a small lake. It was much further away than it looked, and probably much bigger than she thought, too. Between her and the mountain was a wide open meadow. It was too cold for spring flowers, it was just full of brown grass. She wrote all this down, plus the fact that the snow was melting away and the sun was shining very brightly.
A slight breeze was a little chilly, but she wasn't uncomfortable. She heard another student cough somewhere along the ridge--Mr. Branson had taken them out and placed them in spots a few feet away from each other, while he sat above them at the top of the ridge and kept watch. He had talked about this assignment a lot in the months leading up to this trip. How just sitting quietly in nature can teach you a lot. How he saw a marmot come up to him one day while sitting on a cliff, which is rare because marmots are really shy.
After a few more minutes, Dana was bored. She had 45 more minutes before they hiked away from the area, and even if something happened, like a deer or a marmot came out of the woods, she still wouldn't have anything more original than the rest of her class, because they would've seen the exact same thing.
She took a drink out of her water bottle and looked at the mountain again. Most of the time, she was always in a car traveling through the mountains when her mom drove to Seattle to drop her off at her dad's and vice versa. She never had a chance to actually sit and look at one. What did Mr. Branson keep saying? That everyone "looks but don't really see" what is right in front of them?
Sooo, Mr. Mountain, what I am not seeing? You are a bit of a nerdy mountain, not as rugged as the Cascades or majestic like the Rockies. You are far away from any highway or tourist trap. I had to hike 30 minutes in from the Lodge to see you. Nobody comes to climb you like your cousins Rainier, Adams and Hood. No one skiis off your slopes like at Baker. Are you lonely, Mr. Mountain? Are you glad to see us kids come and really pay attention to you? To really see you?
At this thought, Dana started tearing up. This was not a popular mountain, but it was pure in a way because of that. No one trampled on it. There wasn't garbage anywhere, unlike most places that people visited. Not even a gum wrapper. This mountain was better off in this wild and desolate place. Dana began to understand the value of a hidden, secret thing.