Hey all! It’s been a while.
As fall loomed over the claustrophobic roof of Washington, I fell into seasonal blues and went dormant for a while. I was living day to day and sleeping a lot to pass the time. The anticipation for my PCT hike was and remains to be a bit overwhelming.
Fastforward.. I don’t know how long. It’s been a blur. But fastforward to yesterday, I’m in a restaurant eating the best Chimichanga ever, and I feel awful when I get home. Completely incapacitated, I just lay in my bed and wait for it to go away, falling asleep in the process. After that misery, I felt amazing when I woke up this morning and pretty much immediately assembled my gear and went out for a little hike.
I had new gear to test: First off I ditched my awful rainpants and went for the beautiful 3 ounce Patagonia Houdini windpants. I also bought a new camera because mine is a dented mess from 2010. I also wanted to try my OR Helium II jacket in actual rain, and rain it did.
The destination is the Coal Creek trail (I think that’s its name?). It is named rightly so, this area was used for mining back in the day (guess what they were mining.. go ahead), and the smell is a strange mix of earth, vegetation, and coal. It’s slightly disgusting, and slightly intoxicating.
I have hiked this trail more times than I can count, and it has become a very dull experience. But today it was just me and my dog completely alone on this sleepy residential trail, and obnoxious energy was just released all at once. I was singing far too loud, skipping, attempting to dance slightly while walking, and I was going off-trail a lot more to get a different perspective. I spend far too much time in my life keeping certain emotions bottled up because they aren’t appropriate at work or in the produce section of the grocery store, and I’ve hit this wall of just not fucking caring anymore. I’m going to be jobless, homeless, and smelly in four months. Appearances do not need to be kept up.
Part of this obnoxiousness is me not keeping my dog leashed. I’ve lived by this trail long enough to know that my dog and I pretty much own this little section of.. I hesitate to call it nature, but this valley of no houses and no.. things..? But yeah, it’s ours. I very rarely see anyone out here during the colder and wetter season. She is well behaved on-trail, I only leash her up here as a formality.
As we hiked on, the rain started to pick up and I put my camera away prematurely out of fears of it getting ruined. The pictures here are of things I’ve seen probably twenty times or so, but somehow I manage to love it every once in a while.
The trail forks off into two options: You can take a nice loop and head back down, or take the loop to another fork and continue on to a natural preserve thing called Cougar Mountain. I’ve done this numerous times as well and it’s a great way to get sucked into a six hour hiking excursion, but today I wanted something different. I kept going directions I’ve never considered.
A while before you’re faced with the decision to push on to Cougar Mountain, you’re hiking along a bit of a service road. The trail to Cougar Mountain splits off from this road, but it never occurred to me to just follow the road. I did that today, and had the time of my fucking (residential) life. This service road spits you out onto a concrete road, and across this road I see another trail. This is a big deal for me.
I leash up my dog, sprint across the road, unleash her, and I’m faced with two decisions to make: Go left, or go right. I go right, and start singing and continuously ask my dog “Where the fuck are we?”. I notice uphill there’s a clearing, which is yet again a big deal. You don’t come across clearings very often in Washington, so I go crazy when I do see one. As I’m hiking uphill, I notice a downed fence. What to do…
“A fence usually means I’m not supposed to go here.. but on the other hand it is fallen over so, I dunno, I guess that means I can go now? Ah I don’t care, I’m doing it”
I climb up and find myself standing near a flag on a golf course. I look down at my dog and utter: “This is our course now”. I stare at it for a moment then climb back down, and continue along this little path by the road.
As we keep walking, I come up to a building I recognize as the local YMCA. From the trail I can see people exercising, mostly running on treadmills. I laughed, buckled my daypack securely to me, and decided to go on a run myself in the freezing rain. I haven’t full-on ran in a very long time, and it was exhilarating to say the least. I didn’t know I was capable of going so fast for so long, and I was content with the results. My dog on the other hand may as well have been flipping me off once she caught up to me.
Sadly the trail ended by some high-class condominiums found so commonly in the Bellevue, WA area. I “YIP YIP YIP” loudly, and I book it back down the trail causing more angst for my poor little Corgi. People were staring, and I gave absolutely no fucks today. Today was my day, anyone potentially upset by my actions clearly didn’t know that.
Things like these have lessons to them I guess, so here it is: Sometimes you don’t need to do something absurdly incredible to validate your happiness (but sometimes you do need to be absurd). Sometimes you need to just live. The world as a whole does not care about you or what you do, just do what it is you want to do. Today I wanted to go ‘hike’ (it’s a scenic byway through neighborhoods really) in a rain storm and project my happiness outward. It may have been obnoxious for five seconds for the poor onlookers caught in the crossfire of my singing, but you know.. it’s no big deal.
This is what got me singing, and it was amazing.
By the way, the windpants worked amazingly. I didn’t sweat in them, nor did water get through the fabric. If you’re looking for a lightweight shell for your legs, the Patagonia Houdinis are magical. They’re not made to be rainproof, but they held up very well for me. I stayed warm just wearing running shorts underneath.
I also have been swapping out gear and eliminating stuff like crazy from my pack. I plan on doing a write-up about this because I’ve learned a few things from my ‘mistakes’ while gearing up for my thru-hike. After I get my last few items, I’ll do the typical “Look at my PCT shit” video for fun.