Striking out ALONE!

6 08 2011

So Justin had to go on an over-night Saturday and Sunday, leaving me with a wide-open weekend to do anything I wanted.  My brain flipped through the endless possibilites – I needed to be outside, I needed to be able to get there without getting hopelessly lost, and I needed to be able to survive on my lonesome.  Oh! How about hiking!  That’s easy to find around here, I’ll get some sun, fresh air and exercise, and really, what kind of trouble could I possibly get into while hiking?!

The valley hosts one small resort – that’s all the residents will allow – nestled on top of a hill over looking Patterson Lake.  They have a really nice trail system running all along the adjacent mountainside which they maintain wonderfully for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and XC skiing in the winter.  Yet somehow, in all my four months of living here, I’ve never actually been on these trails!  And unlike some of my more recent hikes, there would be no snow, and should something happen, it wouldn’t take weeks to find my body…. Who’s excited?! I’M EXCITED!

I parked at Chickadee Trail head (honest, that’s its name) and shouldered my day pack.  I tucked my trail map in a pocket because, well let’s face it, I really might need it.  And off we go!

Man, what a gorgeous day.  Summer has finally found its way to the Methow, and it is filling the skies today.  I jump on the Cabin Trail, turn off onto the Patterson Trail, hook a right on the Radar Creek Trail, and follow Magpie back to the parking lot.  The loop is about 5 – 6 miles total…ish.  And boy does this trail have it all!  I go up, I go down, I’m in the trees, I’m soaking up sun, I’m next to the lake, I’m following a babbling brook, and all along the way, I have berry bushes and wildflowers and cute little bridges and abundant wildlife – YAY!

I’m not normally considered a “loner” but I have to say, there is something wonderful to being all alone out in the woods.  The crunch of the gravel under my boots, the wind through the trees, the butterflies dancing along in front of me – sure its wonderful when shared with someone else, but there’s something so liberating about going it alone.  Just me, hanging out with Mother Nature, soaking up the fresh mountain goodness. My mind wanders all over the place, my overactive imagination tingling in delight as it jumps from daydream to daydream.

I wish I could record my inner dialogue at times like this.  Its pretty ridiculous, and you would think it was a nutcase if you could hear it, but the random things that pop into my strange brain are sometimes pretty hilarious.  But man I get my best thinking done when I’m alone in the woods.  Or in the car, but that’s neither here nor there.

Despite the fact that I followed the well-beaten resort paths on a summer Saturday, I only saw two other people total.  One was an older lady walking her adorable dogs and the other was a biker, with whom I chatted with for a bit.  Friendly chap.  We were doing the same loop but in different directions, so I actually saw him again.  He was quite surprised.  “Oh wow, I didn’t figure you’d get this far so quick.  You’re a fast hiker.”  Oh (giggle) why, thank you.  (I wonder how hard Justin would laugh at that…)

However, I could see from afar plenty of others enjoying the lovely day.  Kayaks, boats and paddleboards on the lake, fishermen on the shore, hikers climbing Patterson Mountain, kids on their bikes playing on the small dips and hills and jumps.  Summer was so late in finally arriving, everyone wants to be out in it, doing as much as they can in the short little window we have.

By the end of my little excursion, I was pretty sweaty, slightly stinky, and happy as a clam.  I am extremely happy to report that I had no major incidents other than once tripping over a stupid rock that jumped right in front of me on the path, and needing my map only once.  That has to be a record.  Good choice of trail, for sure.  After running a few errands, I spent the rest of my lazy afternoon reading my book and gorging on some Rainier cherries I picked up at the Farmer’s Market.  A most wonderful Saturday, if I do say so myself (despite the stomach ache from too many cherries – they were just too good!).  🙂

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