Monday, September 13, 2010

Pooped at Poo Poo Point

The best an American can look forward to is the lonely pleasure of one who stands at long last on a chilly and inhospitable mountaintop where few have been before, where few can follow and where few will consent to believe he has been. -- George F. Kennan

Even when my mind insists that my body can soldier through anything to commune with nature, I’ve learned that the body should first be consulted. My muscles were still sore and cramped from lifting weights when I bundled up for my Poo Poo Point adventure. Yet, I dismissed the pain and headed out into the rain, convincing myself that the nine mile hike would actually stretch them out.

The trail starts behind Issaquah High School and for the first quarter mile or so, I could hear the familiar old bells ringing to signal the end of class and administrators delivering messages over the loudspeaker. Then I passed a closed gate and found myself on a quiet old forest road lined with blackberry bushes, though the berries were few and far between.

After passing junctions with two other trails, I began a steady climb that made me (temporarily) doubt my devotion to hiking. I found myself stopping frequently to catch my breath and dodge the giant green slugs that had overtaken the path, drawn out by the cool dampness of the day. As I reluctantly trudged on, I unleashed a steady stream of internal complaints. I was tired of the water droplets in my eyes. The thermals I’d worn to protect me during the rain-soaked hike had turned me into a sticky, sweaty mess. The elevation surely had to be steeper than I had read. I even made eye contact with a log that I swear was encouraging me to turn back.

Then, mercifully, the hike evened out and I practically skipped through Many Creeks Valley. The sound of rushing water soothed my tired soul and the brisk wind, usually not wanted when I’m hiking in chilly weather, became a welcome friend. I paused at Gap Creek to admire the water as it bubbled over the rocks, under the wooden bridge I was standing on and off into a thatch of moss-covered trees.

It was a brief respite. The trail cruelly climbed again, and never really stopped. But it ended at the grassy swale of Poo Poo Point (named for the sound the train made as it came through the area to communicate with loggers who could not see it), a popular spot for paragliders to take off.

No gliders were braving it on this rainy day but it was interesting to see the T-shaped area of green felt – much like golf turf – that they apparently take off from. Since they weren’t using it, I claimed it as my own and plopped down to take in the views. They were sensational.

Squak Mountain rose to my left and Cougar Mountain was beside it. Downtown Seattle was barely visible far in the distance through the fog and Issaquah sat below. Lake Sammamish stretched in the distance, its vastness immediately drawing my eye.

I stuck it out there for a while, alone atop a mountain, admiring the sights and solitude, but the cold prodded me back down the hill.

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