Monday, April 27, 2009

first hike of the season

And it begins with two questions:

"Ooh! I wonder where this goes?"

"Um...where did the trail go?"

Saturday night Lucas and I went to see an amazing show called Circus Contraption. They are on their last run of shows after 11 years of performing in Seattle. It was an amazing show and I highly recommend running out and getting tickets to see it...right now! Go ahead, I'll wait.

We made it an early night due to his earlier activities and the soreness it caused so I was able to get a good night sleep in preparation for a nice ass kicking from the trail. I decided on Dirty Harry's balcony because I wanted to go there all last year to search for his old equipment and luckily Panda had taken a trip out there last week and by his great pictures I knew the trail to be snow free.

I made it to the trail around noon, but I hadn't prepared myself for the chill in the air. I decided to run back down to the outlet mall in North Bend and buy a hoodie, and I figured since I was there I might as well grab a new pair of hiking boots. I was back to the trail 30 minutes later prepared to take it on.

I grew up on a large lake about 40 minutes south of Downtown Seattle. One summer when I was young I swam every single day in that lake. Rain or shine, night or day I was out there. My fondest memory was being out on the lake at 6 am, just as the sun was rising and the steam from the warmth of the lake snaked up into the cold morning air. I felt like I was sitting in a giant sauna. The next year I spent maybe a 1/4 of my time in the lake and as I drove up to the mountains today I began to worry that maybe last year was my swim year for hiking. I spent every weekend up in the mountains last season and maybe I was over it. I had driven up to the mountains a few times in the last two months attempting to hike but never getting out of my car, choosing hikes that I knew would be snowed in so I could say "oh, well. I guess no hiking today".

The worry continued as I made my way up the road to the trail. I saw a group of three take a trail right next to the river, but the map I had didn't mention a trail on the river; instead it pointed to a path on the right at a bend in the road. I knew this mountain was littered with trails from Dirty Harry's clearcutting of the land so I continued up a bit and found a trail with a car parked next to it. Assuming this was the one I was looking for, I started up; and up it went! It was a straight vertical trail and instantly I was reminded of the first hike to Mt. Si when Panda and I ended up on the old trail to Si and didn't get off the mountain until 12:30 am.

I came to a clearing and there was a couple guys waiting for me to clear the way so they could start their descent. I figured I was going the right way when I saw them so I stopped to catch my breath. I looked north and it was a shear rock face down to the road below, to the south was also a vertical climb but it was brush and trees so I assumed that was the way to go. That point was the last place I saw an actual trail.

hiking ttv
"hiking ttv"

I continued straight up for about 30 minutes until I saw an opening and a rock cliff. Thinking that perhaps I had just taken the short way straight up the mountain to the balcony I did a little rock climbing and made my way to the top. This was not it. I was facing northwest, not southeast. No matter, I was glad to have a moment to sit and pull out my cameras. I was shaking from the climb up though, and my shots suffered but I'll be damned if I didn't carry that stupid contraption up a mountain and not use it!

holga in poo
"holga in poo"

I also brought my holga so I had three cameras in total on the mountain. I've had film in my holga for over a week now and I've only taken 10 shots. Two more left then I get to see if I actually can shoot with film or if I'm stuck with digital until I can spend the time to educate myself more.

dirty harrys destruction
"dirty harry's destruction"

I decided to walk into the forest to see if I could scout out an actual trail. The shot above is what I saw so I just walked right down the middle through the remnants of Dirty Harry's destruction of the hillside. The ground was very unstable and I stuck my foot through quite a few rotten logs and holes. My new shoes quickly resembled my old ones, caked with dirt and mud.

I figured it was time for me to find my way down the hill and although I couldn't tell where I had came up I had made it this far without a trail, I didn't need one to get down. I found a stream trickling down to the river below and since I knew there was a trail head at the river I followed the stream, straight down about 600 feet through the brush. I saw a trail finally at the bottom of the hill and I jumped out of the brush, muddy and dirty with twigs sticking out of my hair and scared the crap out of two hikers with a couple of dogs. I looked at them, smiled and said "Don't go up that way".

As I drove away from the trailhead, smelling of dirt and sweat, I realized the worry was gone. Hiking season has begun and I can't be more excited.

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