To embark into the dark

Colonial Pyramid 1
No longer are the flashes of headlights streaming across the darkened landscape. Sometimes there is moonlight. But when there is no moon, there is always the dark.
Highway 20’s closure in November marks the coming of winter. Temperatures have steadily dropped to near or below freezing both day and night. This past week, the Environmental Learning Center has seen several days of solely sun followed by crisp, star-filled nights. On nights as cold and dark as these, it is easy to stay tucked underneath the comfort of a warm wool blanket, wrapped up in a novel of another world, sipping hot tea.
On nights like these, I find myself desiring to embark into the dark.
With the inspiration of Wendell Berry’s, “To Know the Dark,” I indulge my desires by sliding on my boots, zipping up my jacket, and stepping into the night. My destination tonight – Diablo Lake Overlook.

“To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.”

At Diablo Lake Overlook, Colonial, Pyramid and Davis Peaks have an air of grander majesty, the moonlight casting shadows across their contours. The lights of Diablo Dam serve as far-off beacons, the entrance into another world. Diablo Lake itself is perfectly still, Thunder Arm reflected in its waters.
To know the dark of the North Cascades in the chill of winter is to be apart of a landscape only seldom touched. Yet, it can be touched, it can still be reached and read. Its magic calls you, alluring you from your warm blanket and hot tea.
Tonight, answer it. See the landscape anew. Embark into the dark.

Diablo Lake nightDiablo Dam illuminates Diablo Lake as Davis Peak dominates the landscape
Sourdough Mt nightSourdough Mountain stands a dark contrast to the moonlight, star-filled sky
Colonial night 2 The moon shadow of Ruby Mountain reaches up toward Colonial Peak
pyramid 2Clouds begin to shield the star-filled sky as they approach Pyramid Peak
SnowplowThe only company at the Overlook was a snowplow passing by
Title darkThe author taking in the wild, darkened landscape
Photos courtesy of Kelsi K. Franzen.


  1. Leslie Franzen

    Nice work Kelsi and what a great new adventure. Thanks for the amazing shots and I will check out the reference to Wendell Berry’s book – his work is wonderful to read. Hugs!

  2. Deb Davis

    Wonderful photos. Hasn’t the air been amazing these past few days? I’ve been watching the moon at night here in the central Cascades. Your writing reminds me of the winters I spent in the remote St. Joe River country of north Idaho, going outside at night to see starlight glittering on the hoarfrost. I hope you get to see the northern lights this winter.

  3. Chris Kelly

    I think I’ll be checking out that book as well. My forays into the dark never illicit such grand photos. Good work!

  4. Jack McLeod

    Kelsi, you bring me back to the magic of winter nights in the north country of upstate New York. Cold air, stars sparkling on the snow, the swish of x-country skis, peace and quiet amongst the pines. Your pictures and writing beautifully capture a parallel world to what most see in the N Cascades.

Leave a Comment