Seattle, 11 October 2016, noon
Phew! I’ve just woken up and I’m stiff to the smallest bone. What a day yesterday turned out to be! I finally went on a trip to the Cascades and it was AMAZING!!!
This hiking trip was always meant to be the highlight of my fifth Seattle visit. I’d been planning on doing this for years, so when I’d told Stephen about my ambition, he’d hooked me up with mountain hiker extraordinaire and legendary Seattle producer Chris Hanzsek. And I couldn’t have been in better hands! Chris made sure I wore the correct clothing, brought the right things and didn’t fall off the mountain. A big fat thank you to him at this point. Not only did I feel very safe and looked after but our long chats and laughs made this hike extra special. I will be back!
So, back to the beginnings, I got up early to catch the 7.45 Sounder train to Everett (big snogs to Bri for giving me a lift to King Street station) but it turned out there weren’t any more trains going. I still have no clue why because it said there would be one in their website. Ah, Seattle public transport! Leaving much to be desired. 😉
So off I went on the 512 bus. It was a pleasant and surprisingly quick ride through Downtown and up the I-5. I had the back of the bus all to myself and it was fun to watch people busying to work while I was sipping my coffee and looking forward to my mountain hike. Although we seemed to be stuck in traffic a lot at first, the motorway sped things up and it only took just over an hour to get to my destination. I got to gaze at my favourite skyline from below and flirt with my lovvie. There’s worse ways to start a day. And I have to mention the bus stops on the I-5, also called Freeway Transit Centers, where you can change bus lines. They’re often right in the middle of the highway between the lanes like little pit stops. Weird concept, if you ask me. 😉
Anyway, Chris picked me up in Everett and off we were to the Cascades. We’d originally planned on climbing Mount Pilchuck but, with it being Indigenous Peoples’ Day (a bank holiday) and the weather shaping up nicely, we gave this popular hiking destination a miss and turned our paths towards the Cutthroat Lakes, part of the Mountain Loop Highway.
Bloody hell! What an experience! Although not at all untouched terrain, the 2.88 mile accent to the lakes felt to me like a trip into the wild. And not an easy one either. The path often cut over rock avalanches, through little streams and generally rough surfaces but the views were mindblowing! The clouds were never far away and often hung just above the tree tips which gave the whole area a mystic atmosphere. Every now and then the sun peeked through and water steam would ascent from the ground. It felt like being in a fairy tale where the wolf would come around the next corner. Speaking of wolves, there weren’t many animals around. We didn’t even get to see a local brown bear. But I did spot a couple of pikas and that was good enough for me. Well, I can’t really explain it all, so here a few photos – but you really need to be there to take it all in.
Chris and I attempted to walk up Bald Mountain but it started to rain and the clouds moved in, so we turned back and explored the area around the lakes before our descend. When we finally arrived at the car, the sun had gone down and we relied on head lights to see the path before us. It seemed much longer to go down the mountain, to be honest. And I was spent! Although 2.88 miles doesn’t sound long, if you have to climb over rocks and tree roots all the way, you might as well have run a half-marathon. With a nicer view 🙂
So, yes, a great trip! And thanks to Chris I made it there and back again without falling, starving or freezing in cotton clothing (don’t ever wear cotton when climbing those mountains!). Needless to say I got the Cascades bug now and I’m already planning my next hiking trip. Bring it on!