I almost waited too late last Sunday to go hiking up the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and Washington was out in force, ready to hike, swim and otherwise make use of the Rattlesnake Lake Recreational Area. The crowd on the trail was interesting, lots of “excuse me,” and “thanks,” as crowds of folks met and passed on the trail.
It’s funny what you hear in close proximity to America on a hike. I heard a chatty couple on a date, maybe their first. I heard a little girl observe as she ascended some not-quite-natural steps in the trail that “someone’s been customizing this mountain.” I heard a woman explaining to another one, as they passed going the other direction, that “you usually have to explain things to her several times” [maybea coworker]. I passed a dog. He seemed to be perfectly fine by himself. Who knows if his owners were behind or in front of him. I passed a man with his dad, saying, “you can’t tell me you don’t miss this, Dad – the smell of Washington in the summer.” I overheard the comical conversation of a group of three buxom girls – I suppose I should say women, but given their conversational prowess, “girls” seems apropo – in “sports” attire, meaning spandex, and very little of it. One was saying, “it’s probably harder going down than coming up [the trail].” To which one just blurted out, “are you stupid?” quickly followed by the third’s “you need to rethink your brain.” Yep, that’s a quote. The original girl was quickly trying to recover by pointing out the angle of the hill. Brutal but funny.
There were out-of-shape 60-somethings gasping for air and sweating; there were small children; there were wild-eyed berserkers – shirtless runners ascending the hill like it was flat. There were “serious” hikers, with significant gear; there was a little girl who had decided she wasn’t going back down, and her mother was sort of coaxing and pleading with her, while her brother was yelling, “mom, come on.” There were men with babies in papooses, and women carrying babies. There were just tons of people out for a walk with tons of other people, and everyone was content to hike together.
Me? I had managed to get a late start, and was on a strenuous walk without a water source. So I went about half-way and turned back. I decided on a similarly impromptu hike a few weeks ago at Iron Horse State Park, that I want to try and consider each place I’m at on the trail as “the destination.” I had stopped at a little waterfall and had my lunch, and as I sat there in the quiet, I decided that “this spot, right here on this hill, this is what I came to see.” That way, I’m always content to breathe, and look around, and get the most out of every moment, instead of missing what is around me as I strive to get to “the top,” or “over there,” it’s all the same. One spot is as beautiful as another.