Go take a hike!

On Saturday, I decided a general retreat from humanity was in order, and rather than huddle in my apartment with the shades drawn, I elected to go hiking with Tristan. We decided to go to Melakwa Lake, and ne’er again shall I deride the importance of actually reading about the trail beforehand–over the course of my quick skim, all I gleaned was “three miles” and “oooh, pretty!”. Forewarned is forearmed, but forewarned with half-ass knowledge is akin to suiting up in a chain-mail bikini for battle–when reality strikes, it will be a shot straight to your delicate exposed guts. Suitably outfitted in this bikini, I furthermore decided to wear everyday shoes as specialty hiking shoes are for pansies, and brought one bottle of water with me, which made up the brunt of my supplies. I suppose if necessity had called for it, I could have fought off a wild animal with my car keys. If the motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared,” my motto is “Ehhh….it’ll be ok.” Tristan decided to continue getting used to his new toe shoes, and brought a few more things with him, but overall, we ran off into the wilderness nigh-utterly unprepared. The first mile or so took us under I-90 and eventually brought us to a wide stream. Apparently there used to be a proper bridge crossing, but that washed away, and now visitors must either hop over a series of rocks or prepare to wade through icy-cold water.

Past this point, the trail turned into a series of switchbacks, through increasingly rocky and overgrown terrain, up to a viewpoint where we could see Keekwulee Falls. “This trail is proving quite easy!” I enthused, yet quite full of pep and positivity. ย  34641_411548338939_5675733_n

34641_411548333939_3302611_n I spotted some bold chimpmunks nosing around, clearly looking for handouts, and reminisced about all the time I spent plotting on family vactions to Eagle River about how I was going to catch a chipmunk in a tupperware container, bring him home, and make him my adorable pet. Of course, during these plotting sessions, I was also utterly convinced that merely capturing an animal domesticates it, and that surely this chipmunk would be performing tricks within a week and riding upon my shoulder like a tiny chipmunk Magellan, experiencing civilization, or the modicum of civilization southeastern Wisconsin had to offer. All of those teachers who sent home report cards which said I was not working up to my abilities really had no grasp on the vivid fantasy world I inhabited. I could do math, but how much time would that leave for training as-of-yet-uncaptured chipmunks?

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No matter how bold these chipmunks may have been, I lacked tupperware and was less certain about domestication of species–less certain to the point where if I captured one, I don’t know that I would have been comfortable tucking him into a pocket or my bra. We continued on through some more switchbacks, and the terrain grew increasingly difficult to navigate. The ground was composed of chunks of rock, some of which wobbled when stepped upon, the majority of which had sharp edges pointing upward, forcing one to step at awkward angles in order to place a foot on a flat surface. We had to scramble over larger rocks, cross slippery streams, and even hike up a goddamned waterfall. It was at this point that my spirits started to flag–I was becoming tired, I had finished my water long before and was growing quite thirsty, the going ahead didn’t appear to get any easier, nor the lake any closer. Random passers-by would tell us, variably, that the lake was approximately a mile and a half away, an hour’s hike away, not far, twenty minutes away, which only served to inform us that people’s sense of time and distance is not to be trusted. If I ever see the ‘not far’ lady again, I will kick her squarely in the knee. Three miles my fucking ass. I must have mis-skimmed the website, and surely enough, I had. At any time around this point, had either Tristan or myself sincerely suggested turning around and going home, the other would have proffered no argument. However, Tristan looked to me to call it, and I have an absurd sense of pride when it comes to quitting or admitting defeat, as if I’ve got something to prove to someone, to everyone. When my feet were bleeding toward the end of that half-marathon, and I was hobbling my way through Bellevue, I saw a little old lady pass me and it galled me to no end. Injured as I was, I wanted to run her down. This lake, this goddamn out of the way fucking asshole mountain lake, would not beat me. I would see it. I would photograph it. I would dominate it through pooping in it if it came down to it. I would not lose. 35163_411548493939_3328534_n

We began to have to climb over fallen trees–most small, one enormous. The trail was variably muddy and snowy, some of which was quite hard-packed so you could pass lightly along the surface like one of Tolkein’s graceful elves, and some of which gave way, leaving one slipping, floundering, arms flailing and helicoptering madly to avoid a humiliating fall. The trail continued on to descend onto wet rocks and yet-deeper mud. Bugs had begun to pester us in earnest, swooping for an eye or an ear whenever one was making a critical leap from rock to rock. I would like to declare forevermore my lasting emnity with insects and their games of “try and kill the human”.

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We began to grouse with renewed vigor, saying that this lake had better have water nymphs distributing magic swords or be the fountain of youth or something equally fantastical and worthwhile of the journey. After twenty more minutes of slipping and cursing and praying the lake would be just over the next ridge, it finally appeared before us–not magic, but beautiful. “I’m gonna put my face in it!” I crowed, up until the point where I realized it would be impossible to do so without falling into its freezing waters. We also shot some video on Tristan’s camera that mostly consisted of us shouting “FUCK NATURE! FUCK IT IN ITS NATURE HOLE!” 35183_411548618939_4211052_n

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However, I was faced with a choice. Here I was, with no water left, a huge amount of trail to descend, and a body of maybe-questionable water in front of me. If I had once upon a time felt an urge to dominate it through feces, who was to say that no one else had felt that urge and acted upon it? I paused with my water bottle above the surface. I posited, “On a scale from one to ten, where one is ‘You have died from dysentery’ cryptosporidium-riddled and ten is ‘magic healing waters’, how safe do you think this water is to drink?” “I’d put it at an eight or a nine. But, you know, don’t blame me if you die.” I decided to take the chance–without any water, I wasn’t feeling good about my odds of making it back down the mountain. The water was very clear and tasted fine.

We sat for a minute, swatting away bugs, but realized that the hour was growing late and we couldn’t afford to linger, lest we have to descend in the dark. We hurried back as quickly as we could, but had only reached as far back as the snow-areas when we hit the golden hour, when the trees lit up with gorgeous reddish diffused light. We began to get concerned, as this meant we really only had an hour before darkness would begin setting in quickly and things would begin to get really dangerous for us. We pushed as hard as we could, not stopping to rest, but my motor skills had begun to decrease from exhaustion and legs were so tired that my ankles had begun to wobble and roll dangerously whenever I hit a rock at a strange angle, so I couldn’t go as quickly as I knew I should. I kept picturing falling and breaking an ankle or smashing my head open on a rock and my head became the Paranoia Network: All Fear, All The Time. I had never so honestly or openly hated inanimate objects as much as I hated this rocky terrain. I wished fire and plagues and ice weasels upon them. I loudly stated that this mountain could suck my balls. Tristan replied that it would be difficult, considering it was already busy sucking ass. My feet hurt from constantly getting the points of rocks jabbed up into my soft sole through the shoe. Tristan was in yet-greater pain as toe shoes provide even less protection than my foolish fashion sneakers. I brought up the subject of the Richard Bachman novella ‘The Long Walk‘, mainly because I felt like I was on a death march and the idea of getting my ticket began to sound appealing. We were the Hans Christian Anderson little mermaids, not the wimpified Disney version, with each step like walking on knives, feet bleeding, save that we still had our voices so we were free to complain. I began to have a series of internal tantrums, fueled by exhaustion and hunger, thinking “I won’t go any further. You can’t make me.” and trudging along nonetheless. I started to trip over things and catch my feet more often–I couldn’t make out the ground as well and even if I could, I wasn’t able to lift my feet as high as before. We rushed over that first wide stream as the last vestiges of light bled from the sky. I slipped off the last rock, fell to my knees, and was a hair’s breadth from having a screaming, cursing, water-bottle-throwing hissy fit, but somehow managed to pull myself away from the edge by insisting to myself that it would solve none of our current problems, namely, that the light was gone and we had a least a mile more to traverse. The pitch-dark was not kind to my paranoia. I focused on the ground in front of me as intently as possible but had difficulty making out where to place my feet. To complicate matters, I had begun to hallucinate, my eyes first swimming with spots, and then quite vividly seeing objects which Tristan insisted did not exist but of which I was as certain of as I was of my own life. I edged around man-eating holes, bears waited patiently near the edges to snatch me up, and I saw my life flash before my eyes. Tristan pulled out his phone to illuminate the path in front of him and turned to help me across yet another rocky stream while attempting to encourage me with statements of “It’s not much farther” to which I responded, voice quavering on the edge of tears “I just don’t think I can.” When we finally made our way to the trailhead, I almost burst into those hysterical tears because I had given myself over to the notion that I might actually die. When someone is being an asshole and you tell them to ‘Go take a hike’, this is the hike you intend them to take. A seven hour ordeal that ends with them stumbling through the dark, praying for death and/or Batman.

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64 Comments Go take a hike!

  1. scearley July 19, 2010 at 8:41 pm

    What, no logdropping?

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 8:49 pm

      Apparently not.

  2. princessgeek July 19, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    I was really looking forward to the feces in the lake scene. I guess I’ll just have to imagine it. Aaah, yes.

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 8:49 pm

      By that point, my legs were so tired that if I had dropped trou and gone into a squat, I certainly would have fallen over backward.

  3. mcfnord July 19, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    some QUITE LOVELY PHOTOS

  4. gldngrrl July 19, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    You are the SURVIVOR!

    We had a similiar experience in HI, trying to find the green sand beach, No idea where it was, rocky terrain (luckily not steep as I was totally out of shape) and impending darkness with the fear of the locals coming out in the 4wheelers to kill us and eat us.

    but we never made it to the actual beach, but we did find the “green enough sand beach”- very beginning of the green sand shoreline and we were content.

    Good for you for surviving, the world would MISS you sorely if you got eaten by a rabid chipmunk.

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 9:23 pm

      hahaha the ‘green enough’ beach, I love it!

      A rabid animal attack is probably more dignified than the eventual death waiting for me.

  5. snickersaddict July 19, 2010 at 9:27 pm

    You know…it was worth it for you to take the hike so that I could look at your awesome pictures.

    <3

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 10:30 pm

      hahaha it’s all about perspective!

      1. snickersaddict July 20, 2010 at 1:40 pm

        Indeed, your sacrifice did not go noticed!

  6. la_roja July 19, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    That is one of my favorite hikes! I took Cole there as part of her birthday weekend last year. I am super glad that you went all the way to the lake, I have personally never been past the falls and have always wondered what was further up the trail. I am a casual hiker at best and usually do that trip as a lazy scramble up Denny Creek to the base of Keekwulee Falls with no time in the day or desire left to go further. If you go up the creek bed instead of following the trail it is *stunningly* beautiful but you have to be prepared to get wet and do some rock climbing as there are multiple smaller waterfalls that must be climbed before you get to Keekwulee Falls. Keekwulee falls itself has two or three tiers and there are social trails that will take you from the main trail to the top of the falls where Denny Creek has worn huge round basins into the granite at the base of each tier. When the weather is hot the sunbathing and soaking are incredible all the way up the creek but it has to be very hot because otherwise the water is icy. I am very glad you made it past Denny Creek before loosing the light. I would not have wanted to be higher up than that on the trail after dark!

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 11:03 pm

      If I ever go back, it will be to the waterfall and no further. Words can’t even begin to describe how thankful I was to be over Denny Creek before pitch darkness–I surely would have broken something otherwise!

  7. mschilepepper July 19, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Oh, Melissa. *headshake*

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 11:04 pm

      Is that the “I’m not angry, just disappointed” headshake, or the “HOLY SHIT YOU ARE A DUMBASS” headshake?

      1. mschilepepper July 19, 2010 at 11:53 pm

        It’s somewhere in between, with a sprinkling of, “You’re so pretty.”

        ๐Ÿ˜›

        Next time you get one of these wild hairs up your ass, how ’bout you call me, and I will advise you what to take and what to wear, and whether you need to notify someone where the hell you’re going so when you’re attacked and half-eaten by a saber-toothed tiger, we’ll know where to start looking, hmm?

        1. mschilepepper July 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm

          PS: Ask my Mom sometime about the time she had a pet chipmunk run down the collar of her dress. ๐Ÿ˜€

        2. admin July 19, 2010 at 11:59 pm

          I’m quite certain that Tristan would have survived and he could direct people back to my corpse.

          1. mschilepepper July 20, 2010 at 12:01 am

            Oh, sure, he’s totally a He-man warrior-type, he’d have managed to beat off the tiger with his bare hands!

          2. admin July 20, 2010 at 12:04 am

            Nah, I mean he would have sprinted away shouting “PEACE OUT, BITCH!” while it was feasting on my delicious guts.

          3. mschilepepper July 20, 2010 at 12:38 am

            Ha, reading the pre-edit comment kinda kills the funnay. ๐Ÿ˜›

          4. admin July 20, 2010 at 2:10 am

            GAWD SORRY

          5. admin July 20, 2010 at 2:15 am

            Someday, someone is going to grab onto that tongue to teach you a lesson.

            Someday.

          6. mschilepepper July 20, 2010 at 2:16 am

            Shoot, that’ll be more action than I’ve seen in MONTHS.

          7. admin July 20, 2010 at 3:14 am

            What happened to macho gun-shooting military dude?

          8. mschilepepper July 20, 2010 at 5:44 am

            Dropped off the face of the earth, alas.

  8. splatterhouse July 19, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    This was awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever read an entire entry about hiking without just skipping to the pictures.

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 11:58 pm

      I do what I can to entertain with my dumbassery.

  9. apestyle July 19, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    So the water was, in the end, okay to drink?

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 11:57 pm

      Yup, I haven’t suffered any ill effects and I chugged down a full liter of the stuff.

      1. winik July 20, 2010 at 7:59 am

        awh please get checked out in a bit somehow anyways… I hate to say it but a friend had a parasite from drinking water while hiking that didn’t become apparent for ten years! I kid not… she had all sorts of weird non descript hard to pinpoint things that cropped up over the years before they found it! ugh! I swear she caught the bug i caught from the same trip only I found out a lot sooner when I was tested for a health care job.. she thought she was fine.. until dun dun dun…! she had the same parasite. A certain type of antibiotics that I can’t remember atm took care of it.(if anything the parasite did wonders for her figure and appetite anyways :p) Glad to hear you made it back alive in any case.. O_o

        “When someone is being an asshole and you tell them to ‘Go take a hike’, this is the hike you intend them to take.” Ok thanks for the heads up.. *gets out voodoo doll* There’s someone I’d like to send there..

        1. admin July 20, 2010 at 5:18 pm

          ๐Ÿ˜

          Wellll now I am paranoid about some funky parasite living in my body. I guess it’s time to find a new doctor.

          1. aquariumspast July 22, 2010 at 11:00 pm

            I was going to say, doesn’t a stream, flowing free, look clear and taste fine, but that doesn’t mean many, many bears and birds and chipmunks didn’t shit in it … with a lake, they probably bathed and frolicked in it too…

            You made a brave choice to replenish your bodily fluids so that your system could keep sending the impulses it needed to in order to make your muscles get you back, but I would want to be sure…

  10. raincitylady July 20, 2010 at 12:17 am

    I just looked at the link to the toe shoes and am now cringing in sympathetic pain!

    1. admin July 20, 2010 at 2:11 am

      I cannot even begin to imagine the pain factor there.

      1. raincitylady July 20, 2010 at 3:10 am

        My feet tried to withdraw back into my ankles and beyond in sympathy with Tristan’s feet.

  11. angelamermaid July 20, 2010 at 12:42 am

    But you got one heck of a hilarious post out of it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I don’t have a Tristan so I let my inner voice allow me to wuss out of an uphill climb, where my GPS constantly said I was the same distance away, after what seemed an eternity.

    1. admin July 20, 2010 at 2:11 am

      I do what I can to turn almost-tragedy into comedy. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. pink_chimneys July 20, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Whoa, 9 miles?! That’s crazy! I’ve just recently gotten into hiking, I figured I should take advantage of the fact there is actually shit to go hiking at, because there won’t be when I eventually move back to Kansas. If you haven’t done Rattlesnake Ledge I highly recommend it. It’s only 4 miles, but the views are incredible. It’s a good workout too, a pretty steady incline the whole way up.

    http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/rattle-snake-ledge

    and here is a picture from when I did this hike on Wednesday http://imgur.com/IJYWu.jpg

    1. admin July 20, 2010 at 2:10 am

      I did Rattlesnake a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it! I heard it will be closing soon-ish due to lack of funds, though.

      1. pink_chimneys July 20, 2010 at 6:22 am

        Really? That’s too bad. Glad I got to see it though!

    1. admin July 20, 2010 at 2:09 am

      <3

    2. vurumai July 20, 2010 at 2:21 am

      OMG are you two gonna make out?

      1. girlpirate July 20, 2010 at 2:22 am

        Maybe after I finger her.

        She is my absolute favorite after all.

        1. vurumai July 20, 2010 at 2:33 am

          Great!

          NOW I gotta change my pants.

          Jeez.

  13. vurumai July 20, 2010 at 2:01 am

    Wow, looks like you had a great time. Perhaps I made a bad decision in choosing hermitage over natures.

    1. admin July 20, 2010 at 2:09 am

      I’m sure this won’t be the last hike of the summer if you’d like to join.

      1. vurumai July 20, 2010 at 2:20 am

        Is this one of those “Join me! I will complete your training and we shall rule the galaxy as father and son” kinda things?

        1. girlpirate July 20, 2010 at 2:29 am

          It sounds sort of like an offer to go hiking, actually.

          1. vurumai July 20, 2010 at 2:33 am

            Impossible! The sinister plot runs far deeper than that.

          2. vurumai July 20, 2010 at 2:54 am

            Shite. I shoudla said”

            “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! It’s can’t be true!”

        2. admin July 20, 2010 at 3:10 am

          That might be sorta incesty, no?

  14. burtonlabs July 20, 2010 at 2:27 am

    “I loudly stated that this mountain could suck my balls. Tristan replied that it would be difficult, considering it was already busy sucking ass.”
    That made me laugh. Out loud. Hard. For a while.

    (found you through girlpirate)

    1. admin July 20, 2010 at 3:10 am

      Always glad to make people laugh! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. libra_dragon July 19, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Very pretty area

  16. dslartoo July 20, 2010 at 3:52 am

    Glad you came out of it okay, with stories to tell (don’t you always, though?) and only slightly the worse for wear.

    And some freakin’ gorgeous pictures.

    cheers,
    Phil

    1. admin July 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm

      That’s always the upswing, whenever something like this happens my first thought is “Well, at least it will be a good story!”.

  17. frosty_pickle July 19, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    I think you must be tough for getting through that. ๐Ÿ™‚

    And the pictures are pretty. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. admin July 19, 2010 at 9:20 pm

      Nah, I’m a pansy. Other people did it without crying.

  18. technophobe1975 July 20, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    After reading that, I feel as if I was there with you, apart from the rocks, bleeding feet and sheer terror that is!
    Still, the scenery looks epic, so I hope you think that it was worth it…

    1. admin July 20, 2010 at 10:00 pm

      As long as I get a good story, it’s pretty well always worth it.

  19. poetrix618 July 21, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    The lesson we learned about preparedness on our hike up Mt. Rainier did not stick. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I can’t say that I blame you…I probably wouldn’t have prepared either. (Except for wearing TONS of insect repellent. I still remember the balloon hand I suffered from mosquito bites!)

    As usual, though, it makes a good story and the pics are beautiful.

    1. admin July 21, 2010 at 6:56 pm

      Technically we were MORE prepared for Rainier, given that I had both chips AND painkillers.

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