Weekly Peakly: Volume 4
Or: I Live in Skyrim
Sup. So, I didn’t do any hiking last weekend because it snowed, and after my concussion I’ve decided not to fuck with ice anymore. This weekend, however, it was lovely, so I was back on those peaks like stank on a compost bin.
This time around, I drove a bit to the east, around the North Bend area, to hike the Twin Falls trail. I’ve had my eye on this trail from the beginning but put it off because it required a paid parking pass and was a bit of a longer drive than I’ve had time to make.
I rolled out with a steaming cup of coffee at around 9:30, and I must say it was a gorgeous morning. This was the first time I got a chance to hike while the sun was out, and I was positively tingling with excitement at the prospect. It wasn’t exactly warm, since it was still around 45 degrees F, but my spirits warmed me because the bright yellow orb above me seemed soft and beckoning.
The drive there was lovely, as well. I have never been further east than Issaquah on the I-90, so I was treading new ground in more ways than one. For those that don’t know, it basically curves off into high mountains. There were massive trees lining the highway, and peeking out over the top were the snow-dusted mountaintops. They were very scenic, which made me even more excited about climbing one of them.
I arrived at the trailhead at about 10:45 or so. I’m not positive on the time because I was so excited that I forgot to check. I parked, threw on my boots, and hefted my pack to set out. The trailhead here was nicely structured. You could tell it must have been a popular trail because there were nice bathrooms available and clearly marked parking. There were also a TON of people out. I was not the only one excited that the sun had paid us a visit.
This trail was one of the shorter ones on my to-hike list. It was listed as being about 2.6 miles, but I made a couple forays off the trail to play around in the river that ran parallel to it, so at the end of the day I had clocked 3.69 miles (nice).
This was the most beautiful trail that I’ve been on to date. The river was incredible. I looked at it and was filled with a sense of adventure that made me feel like I could have flown if I wanted to. I’m a big fan of pretty much any body of water, so hikes that bring me close to those are going to be very exciting for me.
I could not get enough of the scenery. I was so enamored with every inch of this hike. I must have taken 600 pictures, I couldn’t resist snapping photos of every tree and angle that I could see.
My biggest complaint is that the pictures really don’t do it justice. There was an air of wild benevolence around everything that just doesn’t come through in the images. I felt like the mountain was as excited as I was, as though the trees were shivering with joy to be surrounded by people coming to visit them.
This feeling was aided by the number of gleeful children and dogs out that day. If you ever feel like you’ve lost your enjoyment for the little things in life, I highly recommend spending some time with children and dogs. They are endlessly enthusiastic about things. Trees? So tall and mighty! Rivers? So wet and fast! Rocks? Round and colorful and speckled! Seeing the little kids run around and just be fascinated with every part of nature they encountered put such a huge smile on my face. Seeing dogs run around the feet of their owners as they explored with glee lifted my spirits.
It was nice to be surrounded with joy.
I kept my high spirits throughout the hike. It got somewhat difficult in the middle, taking a steeper slope than I had anticipated. Most of the elevation gain, about 500 feet, happens in the second part of the hike. There are some stairs build into the trail to aid in the climb, but it was still a lot of work for my poor thighs.
There are two points of interest at the end of this trail. One is a little balcony where you can view the lower part of the falls. It offers a breathtaking view, and I stood there just staring at everything for quite some time.
Further up the trail is a bridge that goes over the top of the waterfall, which is equally amazing. I actually climbed to this part first, because I didn’t realize there was a lower viewing spot. I wish that I could have stayed above that waterfall for ages. I wish that I could have set up a chair and just sat back and watched the weather roll by. I wish that I could have spent a dawn and a dusk in that exact spot, seeing the colors of the sun play in the water. I wish that I could have built a cottage at the end of the trail, overlooking the curving river and wooded peaks, so that I could sit at my window and have the view as inspiration for all my writing. I wish that everywhere could be as lovely and wonderful as this spot was.
I think if there ever comes a day where I am tired of the world, I’ll by a plot of land in the remotest mountains I can find and spend my days writing books and gazing at the parts of the planet where people don’t linger.
By the time I made it back to my car I was exhausted, but that was overridden almost entirely by the sense of satisfaction at having been present to such sights.
It was a very good day.
(also, this shit looked like Skyrim so much I had an urge to stop and pick alchemy ingredients. I found Skyrim, y’all, somebody tell Todd Howard so he can break the curse and stop re-releasing the game)
Mistakes and R E G R E T S:
1. Hey, so, the sun brought out some interesting problems. In all my previous hikes, I never really got thirsty, not even on the 5-mile one where I was lost. However, on all those hikes it was a cloudy and rainy day. Apparently, I function much like a plant, and the minute the sun comes out I begin photosynthesis and require additional hydration. I didn’t bring my water bottle with me because I forgot it when I left the house, and I didn’t stop to buy a backup because I was eager to get going, so I had no hydration. Let me tell you, after hiking in the sun for an hour, the river looked fucking delicious. I’m smart enough to know you really shouldn’t drink raw water like that because who knows what’s been going on upstream, but my parched lips were begging me to take the risk. That will definitely be the last time I make that mistake, though, because nothing would have been sweeter than downing a bottle full of water on top of that waterfall.
2. Layers. So, this being early March in Washington, my assumption was that it was still going to be cold. It did snow last weekend, and allegedly a little snow on Friday of this week, so I figured the mountains would be cold. I wore my usual layer of an active sweater beneath a shirt, then my running jacket layered on top. The mistake, as it turns out, was layers that I could not easily remove. About half-way through the hike I started to overheat. I stopped and took off the jacket, stuffing it into my backpack, but the thermal, long-sleeved shirt beneath my tee was still there, and it was still too warm. I tried, believe me, but I wouldn’t have been able to take it off without completely undressing and re-dressing. Considering how crowded the trail was, this would have been rather uncouth. I think I’m going to look into layers that are more removable, or drop the long-sleeved top altogether, since it’s starting to warm up around here. In either case, I regret not having layers that were easy to adjust based on the temperature once I got out there, so that’s something I’m going to have to consider in the future.
Hot Takes for Hikers:
Ain’t No Type but the Kind That Does
When I started this hobby, my anxiety put it in my head that I did not look like a hiker and would therefore get side-eye from “actual” hikers (whatever that means). Now, I knew that my anxiety was wrong, because I’m logical and I’ve learned to recognize bullshit when my brain tries to present it as roses. This hike, though, really showed me how wrong that was. I saw people of all shapes, sizes, and ages on this trail. There were multiple nationalities, as well. For example, the languages I heard on this hike included: English, German, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Swedish, Russian, Indian, Ancient Caucasian (UK accent), Down Under Caucasian (Australian), and Valley Girl. It was a mini mixing pot, right there on the mountain side. Some of us were fat, some were thin. Some were hauling toddlers, some carried infants on their backs.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what shape you’re in, what you look like, or where you live. If you want to hike, go do it. All you need is a pair of shoes. Seriously, don’t let your anxiety tell you that you’re not in shape enough. There were people stopping every five feet to catch their breath, people who were overweight and red-faced, but still smiling. Don’t let fear stop you from starting.
A hiker is a person who goes hiking. That’s all you need. If you want to be a hiker, then go forth and be a hiker.
Invasive Thoughts on the Mountain
If you have invasive thoughts, you know that they aren’t to be trusted. For me, they’re often ridiculous. During this entire hike, I was plagued with the urge to put smooth rocks in my mouth, drink the river, jump in the river, swim in the river, jump off the bridge because the water below looked smooth, lay down in the dirt because it looked squishy, and put sand in my pockets because it was different than the other dirt. If you have invasive thoughts and you start hiking, be prepared for a parade of stupid ideas to accompany you on your journey.
I find that a good way to keep these things from bothering me is to imagine a character from a book, movie, or other media doing them instead of me. This will usually make me laugh, and it will usually give me story ideas, which is useful, me being a writer and all. My best bit of advice is to try and find a way to funnel invasive thoughts into something more useful. If you’re brain is going to waste the energy, you might as well find a way to take some joy out of it, if possible. (I know it’s not always possible, especially if the thoughts are more destructive – mine certainly go there when I’m deeper in depression. But you can only ever do your best, so remember to be gentle with yourself when you can’t resolve all mental illness problems with one or two solutions.)
Song of the Hike: Ladyworld, by TWRP (Tupperware Remix Party). I dunno, this song played just as I walked over the bridge above the falls, and it definitely felt like a world just for me. Since I happen to be a lady, it resonated with me.
Animals Seen: 7 very good doggos (4 seen below), one tree stump across the river that I thought was a sleeping bear, a small spider friend who didn’t show up on camera.
Mood: Running away to write in the woods for the rest of my life, also putting sand in my pockets because it looked smooth.
Trail Rank: Furry trees, gleeful children, fanciful sights. Would build a hut beneath the bridge and become the troll who accepts cupcakes as payment.