Tuesday, June 03, 2003

06/03/03: So holy crap, it's June.

In November, our campus Service Learning Coordinator gave out instructions for a reflection exercise--to write letters to ourselves, six months in the future. My team decided to write letters to the whole team, six months in the future.

Lo and behold, it's been six months already and last week I received my packet of letters. I made this really cutesy, colorful envelope, with the return address listed as Julie from six months ago, of Fire 4 Schmire 4. Anyway, I was so excited to get them and read them. It was really fun to remember those days, and to read little notes from my teammates.

Another fun team thing from last week--we got four of us on the phone at the same time! Thanks to modern technology and three-way cell phones, Jess, Jep, Dez and I all got to talk to each other. I loved hearing all their voices again, and at the same time. Like the good old days. Aww.

So! Back to Memorial Day...(check out the pictures from the trip here!)

We caught an evening ferry to Bainbridge Island and then drove to Port Angeles. It was a lovely drive, all foresty and then views of the big Olympic mountains. Very impressive. We arrived at our cozy bed and breakfast and slept well.

Saturday, Dan and I went out and explored some nature. Took Highway 101 around the peninsula to Olympic National Park, and the Hoh Rainforest. It was incredible there. Walked the "Hall of Mosses" trail, looking at the giant trees and the hanging mosses covering them. There were a lot of nurselog colonnades. That's what happens when a tree falls, seedlings and other plant life take root in the fallen trunk, trees begin to grow from the seedlings, and eventually the fallen log (the nurselog) rots away, leaving a line of trees with roots that now grow around empty space before hitting the ground. Fascinating, the way the circle of life works in the forest. I loved how everything was green, it was so refreshing. Our other excursion was a drive up to Hurricane Ridge. It's a long, twisty road up a mountain, but it took our breath away when we finally reached the top. We could see the huge panorama of the Olympic mountains and foothills, blanketed in evergreens. It was amazing. There was snow up there, at the lodge (it's 5,000 feet up!), so we walked around in it a bit, all bundled up in coats. It was just beautiful.

Sunday we only did one thing, because we were tired of driving. We drove to Crescent Lake, the ranger station, and took the short trail to look at Marymere Falls. It was very pretty. Then we took the Mt. Storm-King trail. Oh boy. The Port Angeles brochure said it was a challenging trek, steep and quite narrow. Well. I have a bone to pick with them, let me tell you. That trail was 1.7 miles straight up the mountain. 2200 feet straight uphill. All uphill switchbacks for 1.7 miles of raw mountain. It seemed to take forever. We had to stop every ten minutes just to catch our breath. I was all out of breath and sweaty and ugh. The unfair thing was seeing all these people coming down the mountain. There were kids running down the hills. We were like, why do they have energy for that?? And two separate people said something about the second rope at the top. We were baffled at that.

So we reach what really seems to be near the top, it's more rocky than forested, and the cliffs go straight down from the skimpy path. There's a sign that declares the end of the maintained trail, and that to travel on is dangerous. Well, we were there for the view from the top, darnit, so sod the damn sign. On we go, climbing tentatively and not looking down...some pretty scary places where the path skirts a curve, on a straight slant with scree heading straight down, and a stupid bush sticking out where we need to walk. I think I just tried to walk in the bush to not fall down the mountain. Then we hit the rope--there was a 50-foot section of fairly steep incline with no holds, so some brave soul had secured a rope with which to haul oneself up the incline. Crawling around more steep and scary paths, keep going...and we hit the second rope, up another steep incline with no holds. Then we come to a precarious rock formation that appears to be the end yet has no trace of the promised view. So we climbed up those rocks and suddenly we were on top of the whole thing. It was breathtaking. The entire Lake Crescent lay below us. The Strait of Juan de Fuca lay beyond that. There was fog rolling in when we first got there, giving it an eerie, mystical feeling. I was glad to see it dissipate though, I had visions of getting stuck up there, unable to see to get back down the mountain. We had a view of the miniscule ranger station where we'd begun our long journey. The mountains and hills were just gorgeous, untouched by civilization. I loved it. The damn brochure and the other hikers we met were totally right--the challenge was worth it.

Then we had to get down the mountain. The bit back to the maintained trail was the hardest. I crawled most of it on my bum, because it felt all slanty and I felt pretty certain that if I were standing up, I was far too likely to lose my balance and just roll down the rocky hillside. So I picked my way down nice and slow, and then we hit the downhill switchbacks. Difficult on different muscles and joints. By the time we finally reached the bottom, we were exalted at making it, and nearly limping with foot pain (I wore those favorites--steel toes, whose grip I was pretty grateful for, but damn they got uncomfortable, and Dan was wearing ordinary sneakers. So sitting down felt awesome. We wolfed down a quick dinner at a Mexican place, then went back to the B&B to rest. Ahh.

I was pretty sore on Monday, some in my legs, but a lot in my upper body. It was from pulling myself up the ropes and then the death grips on the way pulling myself down the hills. Phew. We drove home, playing with some trivia games, and had a restful afternoon.

All in all it was a great weekend. I loved being able to take a complete break from work for three straight days. (As everyone knows that talks to me at all, this was only the second weekend in over two months that I hadn't worked six days a week. Woo!)So now I've got pictures up--go check them out.

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