Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?
I know I’ve slacked off too long on blogging when Ian comments, “You need to blog.” Ian is the family expert on avoiding blogging, so when he says it’s been too long, I listen. One of the reasons I’ve not posted is that I’ve essentially been offline since Christmas: Between family obligations and just plain having fun, the Internet has looked like a pretty shabby substitute.
On December 28, Dad and I went for a 47-mile bike ride around Lake Sammamish. Although we didn’t push it extremely hard, we still rode fairly briskly for me, and I felt pretty tired when we finished. That evening, my family hosted a Murder Mystery dinner party. In years past I have participated as an actress, but this year I just helped serve the food. Dad and I also quickly figured out how to make a collage in Photoshop and threw this together while the participants were figuring out who had murdered Archibald (turns out nobody had done it, but as per usual, everybody had committed a zillion other crimes).
The next day (Tuesday, December 29) Dad, Jordan, Ian, and I took the dog and hied off to Boulder River for a hike. The guidebook billed it as some of the closest-to-Seattle old growth forest and of moderate difficulty. I would agree unequivocally with the first, but as for the second, two mitigating circumstances might make me quibble: Downed trees and ice. First things first, though.
Initially the entire family had intended to go on a show shoeing trip, but the weather dawned cloudy, with a disappointingly high probability of rain at Hurricane Ridge (and everywhere else, for that matter). Dad and I found this alternative hike in an online list of trails usually open all year long, low enough to generally stay below the snow line.
After some initial delays, we left the house around 10:00. With the very short winter days, that meant that after driving 1.5 hours to the trail head, we only had a few hours of actual hiking time — not quite enough to go the full 4.5 miles out. As we drove to the trail head on a logging road, we were a bit surprised to start seeing snow patches down around 1,000 feet elevation. Under the trees looked fairly snow-free, and it wasn’t deep, so we were undeterred. The temperature hovered right around freezing the entire drive up, and we doubted that it would ever even reach the predicted high of 40°F (I doubt it did).
Just before lunch, we noticed a remarkable phenomenon of ice formation, where the ice had grown up from under the ground, raising the ground level up, sometimes several inches:
After seeing a little bit, we started noticing it all over the trail. It was really quite captivating to look at as we walked along, so delicate in each filament and yet together the filaments held us up as we hiked.
We stopped for lunch near a waterfall and munched delicious fruit jerky from the Simply the Best at Pike Place Market along with sandwiches and very chilly water from our packs while Carmel watched with unceasing attention every crumb and scrap that went from hand to mouth.
After a couple miles, we started encountering more and more downed trees across the trail. We had noticed a number of downed trees in the second growth portion of the trail, but few actually intruded on the trail itself. That situation changed as we hiked along; first, we had to cross a couple of bridges, and the wood was solidly coated with ice and a topping of snow. Carmel balked at crossing them, needed a beloved human (me or Dad) to walk with her the entire way across, and even so visibly trembled in the crossing. After that, we crossed another dozen or more similar slippery hazards, encountering more and more patches of snow and eventually coming to accept that all exposed roots were coated in ice. Each hazard required us to stop and evaluate how we would get around, under, over, or through it; sometimes other people had left a clear path, but other times we had to make it up on the fly. The iced-over wood made each step treacherous, and often broken-off branches threatened to stab us in extremely delicate places.
After 3.5 miles, we decided to turn around. Night comes earlier in the mountains, we had no flashlights, and the icy hazards made us extremely cautious about getting caught in the dark. On the way back I decided to take pictures of all the crossings we had to struggle with, just to prove we didn’t make it all up. Here they are, in the order you’d encounter them hiking out from the trail head.
Happily, nobody slipped and broke anything or got impaled on branches, and we made it back to the car before dark. All in all we agreed that it was a very beautiful place. The old-growth trees certainly did live up to our expectations, the river was gorgeous, and generally I found the trail interesting. I would like to go back to actually finish the trail another time — maybe in the summer, when it’s well above freezing.
We were all pretty tired after all that clambering around on icy surfaces, but the next day I had agreed to go in to the Bike Alliance for a few hours to plan out my internship a bit. As I rode there, my legs felt utterly leaden, exhausted as I haven’t felt in quite a while. I did, however, struggle my way there, and after a few hours at the Bike Alliance they were rested enough to carry me home again. A nice wind from the south/southeast pushed me most of the way home, although it made my commute there more difficult. While I was there, Every and I hammered out a little more detail on what my internship will actually involve. That was my last day volunteering at the Bicycle Alliance. From January 11 to January 19, I will undergo AmeriCorps training in Trout Lake (near Mount Adams). On January 20, I begin with the Bike Alliance as a full-time intern (I even made it on their web site as a news item!).
My very long vacation is nearly over.