Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Two Recent Hikes

Gold Pond and Little Si (November 9 or 10) or I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS

The day after we walked around Gold Pond it snowed and now it’s beginning to look like it’s going to stay. We’d been keeping track of the weather forecasts and since we knew snow was coming we made a quick run up Little Si (for exercise) then dashed up to Gold Pond a little east of Snoqualmie Pass (accessed from Hyak) to capture one last golden day of sun.

Perhaps it’s just age but it seems like winters last longer than they used to and conversely, summers are shorter. Older folks like us have griped about this since probably the beginning of Time so why should we be different? We know there are fewer summers ahead of us than behind us; hence, our attempts to make the golden days last as long as possible.

We are not fast hikers but we hike at least 3-4 times a week in summer, less often in winter. While we don’t mind hiking through drizzle or rain showers we admit we don’t like hiking in rain or wind (especially rain and wind).

Each year about this time I go to battle with my “demons” – cursing the darkness and longing for light and color. As for “light” there just isn’t enough of it. As if Time wasn’t already going fast enough, must we have our daylight taken away too? Yet, who are we (puny humans!) to argue with the Forces that created all this.

Another thing that bothers us about winter are the “brown” hikes, when all color seems drained out of the landscape, the last fall leaves have turned to mush, the trees are bare, with only the occasional green brilliance of moss or lichen to break up the monotony. With the expense of driving a factor there are only so many places we can get to this time of year and frankly, some of them aren’t worth it (except for the exercise).

Hence we look upon “brown” hikes as medicine, as necessary to keep us running as fuel is to a car. But – we don’t have to like it.

Ahhh - those last golden hikes this fall were poignant; each one felt like the “end”. Yet for a while, each golden hike we thought would be the “last” one – wasn’t. Our hike to Sand Lake felt like the last golden hike; it wasn’t. Also, Kendall Katwalk, Granite Mountain, Talapus and Olallie, Crystal Lakes, even a hike from Cayuse Pass to Sheep Lake – it was an unusually good October.

Little Si and Gold Pond, though, were regrettably the last golden hikes; at least for us on the west side.
The hike to Little Si was beautiful; the sun was shining, there were still leaves on the deciduous trees though some had fallen. It was a pleasant hike; we enjoyed it but it wasn’t enough of a hike to see us through the dark days to come. Since the sun was bright and it hadn’t taken us long to hike Little Si we drove to Gold Pond, a little east of Snoqualmie Pass (accessed from the Hyak Exit No. 54).

We couldn’t have timed it better. Again, we were blessed with blue skies, sun and quite a bit of fall color. Gold Pond is our “favorite” short hike off I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass. Perhaps calling it a “hike” is a bit of a stretch but because it was such a beautiful day it was enough to make us happy.

Though the boardwalks sparkled with frost and fallen leaves were edged with ice; there was still a little warmth in the sun and the low-angle of the sunlight made for good photography. We savored every colorful leaf, every twinkle of frost. Plus, it was so quiet there - it was almost as if Gold Pond knew winter was coming; we felt like it was waiting, holding its breath, sad like us to let the summer go. Rampart Ridge had a dusting of snow and looked cold as did Chikamin Peak as viewed from Gold Pond. Yes though those views were inspirational they also made us sad. Though our fingers were cold we took our time walking around the pretty pond, stopping for photographs, savoring each moment.

I know we will have some good times this winter; we always do. Somehow, though, that doesn’t seem to make the winter go by any faster and we long for trails that are neither white with snow nor brown with leaves.

Yesterday (November 15) we hiked the Section Line Trail to West Tiger 3 and took the regular trail back down; a brown and white hike. Most of the leaves have fallen from the deciduous trees and are lying on the trail – near the summit snow had already fallen and it was cold enough that we didn’t linger.

Our next hike? To be determined.