Are we that old?
After a wonderful first visit to Vancouver, I had plans to stop in Seattle to visit my beloved friend, Monica. We go way back to freshman year of college, in 2002, and have made a really great effort to keep in touch over the years. I made a visit to the Pacific Northwest in 2016, and Monica pioneered a terrific day of exploration. [That day can be seen here: Seattle + Washington.]
My visit this year, 2019, was not as long but was equally enjoyable. Monica found a few places online worth exploring for the day and our first stop was to Rattlesnake Ledge Trail in North Bend, Washington.
I would consider both me and Monica, experienced travelers and hikers, however…this moment and trail humbled us. First, it seems like we got the distance wrong. Everything prior to the hike told us it was a 1.9 mile out and back trail (so 3.8 miles in total), but that turned out to be a shy estimate. It was really 2.5 miles/5 miles in total. Not a terrible mixup, but one we could feel in our legs.
At about the 65% mark, we both realized we were getting winded because a second miscalculation hit is the face: elevation gain. I don’t know the numbers but what we thought would be a relatively flat trail kept going up…and up… “Oh, another switchback? Great.” We started to take little breaks to get our wind. We questioned the merits of leading on a hike and how that has an effect on one’s perception of fatigue. “I’ll lead now…no it’s okay I’ll do it…okay…” At the 80% mark we questioned whether or not we had made a terrible mistake with our lives. “How much further is it?” I told Monica my hiking strategy of counting steps: assuming and calculating that my average stride is about 2.5 feet per step, I will count steps on a trail to estimate how close I am to it’s finish. It came to that. Counting steps just to ignore the fatigue.
It was pretty embarrassing for two 35 year olds. We’re not that out of shape are we? Are we that old?
I am writing this blog post to you afterward, so that means we survived, and as you’ll see below it was well worth the “struggle.” We reached the summit and I can easily say that the Washington State landscape presented a vastness of view that I have not seen since Machu Picchu. Mountains and clouds lingered in the landscape in heavenly form. It was another spectacular day of fun with a special friend. I said to Monica at the peak, “Top 5 moment of our friendship. Hands down.”
Along the way you’ll see a few photographs of Monica along the trail. I would occasionally stop her along the way if I saw an interesting patch of light, and ask her to stand in it. Or, if in the moment, if her presence in the landscape was compelling, I just captured it. Monica, completely fitting our dynamic, called me out on it at one point saying, “You know those Instagram accounts where the girlfriend makes the boyfriend take a bunch of pictures of her while they are hiking or on a beach somewhere? Yeah, I feel like this is the opposite…” Hilarious and also a fair point: on our hike in 2016, I found myself photographing Monica a lot, asking her to walk ahead and pose in places. I don’t know why do it. I think she’s just very adventurous and it feels like she’s in her element on a hike and the images come naturally.
Anyhow, hope you enjoy: