Every weekend I'm checking off hikes on my "to do" list and Mowich Lake was no exception. The day before I had spend in my old neighborhood so I thought I would continue the trend the next day by heading up to a lake that I had been wanting to see all summer. I have many stories tied to this lake from my childhood, but it had been decades since I had seen it. The weather man said there would be sunny skies but that it was going to be a bit chilly so I dressed accordingly...or so I thought.
I took the route that would lead me through Orting specifically to take this picture for Casey. If you are not aware, Orting is in the direct route of Mt. Rainer and when it finally decides to blow Orting will be taken along with it, as will every place I knew growing up. It's a strange little town, filled with McCain/Palin signs and bumper stickers that say "Choose Life, Your Mom Did". It's a wonder I turned out the way that I did; while all my family is strictly Right Leaning racist conservatives, I'm as Left as they come.
The drive to the lake is a dirt road that is very bumpy. My car was not very happy about this fact and fought me the entire way up. On all sides you see the clear cutting that has ravaged the area. It reminded me of the oil fields on the La Cienega Pass that I would drive passed every day on my way to work. Large steel pumps sucking the blood out of the earth. I can only hope that we make the right decision in a month and don't elect someone into office that will litter our beautiful lands with such sad sculptures of destruction.
My mind is very involved in the current election...please forgive my digression.
I become a little confused at the trail head. Maps, signs, ranger stations, meadows all around and I have no idea where to begin. There is snow on the peaks and I am delighted to see that there are still some left over remnants from the night before at my elevation.
Instantly I become very muddy and wet from the brush around the meadows and the trails. There is a trail that leads around the lake and in the end it is the one I choose. Heading up towards Eunice Lake I am assured that it's only a 500 foot elevation gain by the sign at the trail head.
I walk into the land of hairy trees and continue on through the misty hillsides. At first the trail reminds me of Kachess Lake as it winds around the lake with little peak-a-boo views of the surrounding mountains. Soon, though, I am engulfed by a wet forest dripping down on me as if it was pouring rain yet there is nothing coming from the clouds.
I come to a fork in the road with a sign telling me which way to go. Ipsut Pass is only 200 feet away so I take a quick detour to see the view, and what a view it was! High cliffs, deep valleys and peaks as far as the eye could see. I made quick friends with the mosquitoes who had called the hillside their home.
Either 500 feet was a lot steeper than I thought it was going to be or I was very out of shape because as soon as I started up to the lake I was overwhelmed by the steep climb that was made very slippery by the roots, leaves and rain that was all around me. Finally I broke through the trees and the path leveled out. Coming up over a large boulder I was presented with Eunice Lake.
Immediately I thought of a church pipe organ. The rocks looked like pipes all along the ridgeline and I swear I could hear someone tickling the keys in the distance. To top it all off, it started to snow. My first snow of the season and it was breathtakingly beautiful. I made the gasp sound. My pictures don't do it justice, but honestly I kind of like it that way. It's such a journey to explore these places and sometimes I'd rather keep the memory of it's beauty to myself as a reward for having actually made it.
The clouds were moving quickly and sometimes you could see the look out, and other times it was completely covered. It was only another mile to the top, but I was very cold. It was snowing hard and I was soaking wet from the hike up through the rain. I was wearing gloves, a scarf, a sweatshirt, two shirts and jeans and I was shaking so bad that I couldn't hold my camera.
The hike down was quick and before I knew it I was back in my car. I still have yet to fix the heater so I was freezing as I had to keep the windows open so they would not fog up. By the time I reached Orting I couldn't feel three of my right fingers. I pulled into a Starbucks drive through and shuddered through an order of hot chocolate. The barista's were concerned so they made it extra hot. I told them stories of my hike in return while sipping the warm liquid and slowly I started to feel the warmth spread through me and I was able to drive home.
Every Sunday I have woken up early, no matter how late I'd stayed up the night before, and headed to my church of choice. I've made the long walk to the pulpit, I've asked for forgiveness and repented for my sins. My hikes are cathartic ways for me to be closer to God, with each step is another rosary bead through my fingers. I've broken down on the top of a 4000 foot mountain. I've laughed out loud while traversing a 75 degree cliff. When I come home I wash away the sins down the drain of my shower and I rest with the knowledge that I have done all I can for the day. As I lay my head down on my pillow I feel assured that I have come one step closer to the realization that we are all God and in my own way I feel blessed.