The Things We Don’t Speak Of

Man posts newspaper ad seeking leads in killing of wife, daughter over 9 years ago

Just as life was definite, so is death. This has been on my mind for the last year or so, the impending darkness that beckons us from our first breath. It terrifies me some nights, that my thoughts and I one day would fade from this world. It’s something I cannot fathom and I cannot fathom it for my loved ones either. I think that death and the fragility of our lives should be talked about open, not kept in a scary closet where we store the things that we’ll never speak of.

Often when I go out into the wilderness by myself , at times I feel apprehensive as most people would. What exactly do I feel apprehensive about? Strangers, unreasonable predator fear and just the unknowing of what is out there. I remember my first trip out on a long hike by myself in the cascades I got to the trail-head put my heavy backpack on immediately wanted to go home, I didn’t, but every noise for the first miles scared the life out of me. I ran across this story about the daughter and mother shot in the head for no reason and something hit me, that trail the first one that scared me was this very trail that they lost their lives on, Pinnacle Lake Trail. I remember reaching the top of this long climb and there was this beautiful vista, sitting at the edge of the trees looking out on the view were two crosses and I had always wondered who they were and what happened, now I know.

The back of my brain says that I should never go back out there to that area, to that mountain, but the other larger more dominant says this: We cannot let fear ruin life for us. We cannot hide under our beds hoping that death doesn’t find us or that evil people simply pass by us. Life is hard, and hopefully long, but for most that is not true. It is a blessing to live long enough to truly know what it means to live.

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.”
―Mark Twain 

You will die. Maybe peacefully, maybe in an hospital or maybe from a senseless act of violence, but it doesn’t change the outcome, fear won’t either. This I will say, knowing that one day your light will go out, knowing that maybe you won’t make it to see all of your goals meet fruition , what are you going to do with that? Why do we wait to tell people we care, or go to a place we have always wanted to go to or even to just take a day off of work. We have learned that we must put our head down and follow the paths of all those before us- Work, home, work , home……. until we get embalmed (so we cannot decay even once in the earth that bore us) and occupy a coffin (our family likely couldn’t even afford) unaged for all of time. Do what makes you happy, I am not talking about “living each day as if it were you last” because if that was true we wouldn’t need to pay our bills or worry about the consequences of dropping acid. What I am talking about is remembering that your happiness is that matters and you are in charge of it, every minute of every day regardless what you actually think. Make sure you are following where your soul beckons, I think you will find that it takes you strange and magical places.

Also, don’t let “evil” people scare you away from the things you love (I am also telling this to myself) because then fear has won, they have won.

HIKE NAKED. 

Get up out of your snuggie and get outside!

Much Love, Leah

“If my decomposing carcass helps nourish the roots of a juniper tree or the wings of a vulture—that is immortality enough for me. And as much as anyone deserves.”
― Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Baby, its cold outside.

During these last weeks the weather up here in the greater puget sound area has been sunny and tits cold (if you don’t know that already) and I have felt that I have been a very poor outdoorswoman for not braving the elements and getting outside, but today I won…

As I was driving home from this hectic but fantastic weekend, I was driving over a small creek on the freeway and for just a second I could see a patch of heaven. By patch of heaven I mean it was a perfect fly fishing location, a beautiful bend of the stream with large woody debris on the bank and a pristine little gravel bar calling my name. When I got off the freeway at the next exit, I went in the general direction to find this little creek (pronounced “Crick” by the way, a creek is what you have in your back a crick is where you fish) . After bumbling around many neighborhoods, dead ends and stern/worried looking homeowners I found an access point to the creek, not exactly the spot of lore but a general good start. Later I found out that this creek is called Pilchuck creek and turns out its pretty famous for trout fishing. I didn’t get too much time to get into a good spot or get any fish on however it was a great day to get my feet wet and explore a new spot that is actually relatively close to home! The take-away from all that is that yes its cold outside, but it’s never too cold to explore. Also many adventures lie just outside of our grasp if one could just reach a little further you never know what you’ll get your hands on. So get up, put on a jacket and some thermals and get outside.

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
― Henry David Thoreau

One of the greatest travesties

One of the greatest travesties in our time (in my mind) is that we believe adventuring/camping is not simply being outside in the wild of this world but it is binge drinking/stereo booming. Camping=Partying. We losing the wild of this world everyday, but we are also losing the ability to be alone in what is left of it. We have to drink on our camping trips, have apps running on our phones the whole time so we can twitter how many steps we took! Or there’s the photo proof selfie that we were in fact at that spot.

I recently overheard a sober parent talking to a friend and what she said really made me think, she said

“If there was one thing that I could have NOT taught my son, it would be that you have to drink beer to have fun no matter where you are”

the reason this hit home is not because I am an avid drinker but because I feel that most of the people I know similar in age to me (and even not) are that way.There are people who need beer to complete an the adventure, or to drink along the way, many of these I have known in varying degrees. I get having a couple, I have been known to take a can of really good beer or cider to the top of the mountain but never have I taken more than one, this is not meant to say that I am better than anyone but to me I feel like if I really want to be in this moment and this place why would I be inebriated? How do we truly connect with others and nature when we are not being ourselves. I mean were not going to even mention the safety problems with drinking and adventuring as they are pretty obvious (you don’t want to fall of the mountain friends!)

An even larger growing addiction the vast majority of people who cannot be without their phones, they have to be constantly playing music, or games, or texting. I recently went on a camping trip with one of these people (had I known I would have kicked them outta the trip), I am one of the people that when I go out into the woods my phones is turned off and put away because if you have music constantly playing how do you hear the trees playing their quartet of wind instruments in their leaves and the very sound of nothing but chickadees hopping around the forest floor.

Anyway this whole rantish type of thing is meant to do one thing, challenge you! So here it is-

The next time you go outside for any amount of time (especially a hike) I challenge you to NOT bring your cell phone for anything (No fitness/GPS or anything else APP) Leave it in the car. Get a paper map though so not to get lost folks. 

And yes obviously I have brought my cell phone on a few of my trips obviously because I have pictures of them on here, and yes there are even a couple selfies, I feel ashamed. I do not everytime though many trips go undocumented!

Pinnacle and Bear Lake, WA

I went here a couple of weeks ago now but thought I should still mention it. This is a wondrous hike that starts off pretty mellow as it connects to bear lake very early on, this lake unfortunately from what I could see could not really be fished. The lake was very shallow and very warm at the time I was there and I saw now sign of fish as I went bush wacking around. So I continued on unknowingly I was going on a must more intense hike than I thought it was! However, I was really excited to see that the trail was not pristine as it keeps the yuppiest of the yuppys out. The trail gained some serious elevation on switchbacks that were heavily rooted and washed out, and a couple times there were false trails leading off to who knows where. Eventually you get to the top of the switchbacks and see some amazing views before seeing Hempel Lake on the right below you then moving on to some beautiful meadows, I definitely startled some bunnies chowing down on the sweet low grasses. Eventually you reach a large tarn, and at first I wasn’t sure if this was indeed the lake! I moved on and found that now it wasn’t, but that little tarn was pretty darn cute! (hyuk hyuk). In the tarn I saw some salamanders, many birds and various aquatic inverts. Oh by the way I should have mentioned that chacos are a must for this trip, waterproof boots if your so inclined or any shoes you don’t mind soaking with mud (I stepped into some mud, found it was a hole then had to pull my legs out- knee high caked with mud). Anyway the destination of Pinnacle lake was reached and the trip was totally nothing in beauty compared with that of the lake, beautiful and serene, clear and quiet, with views far outreaching. Also you get to see a pretty cool side of Mount Pilchuck and its spires. At this point it started raining and got pretty chilly, I ate my lunch and drank my beer, considered fishing but my fleece wasn’t warm enough to stick around long. When I was done I marched back down the mountain sad to leave early but happy to return again. Funny though when I reached the bottom the rain cleared up and the sun came out, so that was nice. This is a great hike, dont underestimate it though come prepared with more food and water then you need. Thankfully it was pretty clean other than the pet poop bags I saw every once in a while. If you bring a pet and you pick up its poop and put it in the bag TAKE OUT THE BAG. I know you say “well ill leave it here and get it on my way out”, I say “put it in your bag now, its in a bag, itll be okay”

Tangent ahead

For you who may not know anything about me I am going to school and it seems the more I learn about environmental conservation the more I just feel overwhelmed by the problems and helpless to solve them, as if you see a person bleeding out and you cannot get to them to put pressure on the wounds but there are so many people standing RIGHT THERE who refuse to help or just don’t see the person. That is how I feel almost everyday looking at humans and our impact. The only reason I mention this is when I say “Get off the couch and get out there” or something to that effect, I dont just mean get physical activity I mean learn about nature, appreciate it so when it comes to making decisions about its fate you are educated. Thanks for reading.

Get up and get educated!

-Leah

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” -Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

Boardman and Evan Lake, WA

50% Cloud cover

70 ish degrees F

Pretty windy

This was a super easy hike and find. So going East past the Verlot center on mountain loop highway you will find forest road 4020, not easy to spot so keep your eye out. There is “Wileys” camp ground I think it was on the left right before the right turn onto 4020. Its a rough road at times but most sedans could make it just fine. There is a y and at the y stay left onto 4020 rather than 4021 which is the right. Big parking lot pretty trashy though. A very short distance from the parking lot you will find Lake evan, its a small lake and relatively shallow with a deeper south end. At the time of my visit it was may 27th (last wed) and a large mayfly hatch was taking place, the adults moving up and down through the air, like a somber dance. I didnt linger here long, seems like the place is very popular and trash was often seen. I moved on a short less than a mile hike from Evan to Boardman. The hike was very serene and beautiful with old growth cedars along the way. At Boardman there was no one else but me. On the north side of the lake there is a small area where the rocks jut out into the lake, perfect fly fishing spot.  The fish were even rising too, although I could not decipher on what , some small white flying insect and there were not many of them (the insects). I had to wade out a bit and found a large salamander I think was a coastal giant salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) that was on a log in the water that quickly moved to the bottom as I approached. Throughout my day at the lake a saw a few of these aquatic dwelling adults (gills observed). Anyway I was totally skunked on the fishing part but I did procure some small white dry flies in various patterns to prevent this in the future. There was no trash at this lake either which was nice. The large conifers all around the lake were marvelous and there were many birds all around singing loudly all day including some stuntman like flycatchers diving and bombing all over the lake. There was also a very nice trail system and small camping ground area if one was so inclined. I would recommend this hike for all, just bypass the first lake or look for a minute and keep on the trail. The ease of use definitely makes the lower part of this hike well, trashy in general. Go on a weekday too, I bet its gnarly on a weekend. Good luck and get out there, but be good to nature; pick up your trash (like the monofiliment that I had the pleasure of unwinding from a poor ole cedar by the lake) and leave not a trace you were there.

-Leah

“I understand and sympathize with the reasonable needs of a reasonable number of people on a finite continent. All life depends upon other life. But what is happening today, in North America, is not rational use but irrational massacre. Man the Pest, multiplied to the swarming stage, is attacking the remaining forests like a plague of locusts on a field of grain.”-Edward Abbey

For more information go to this site∇

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/boardman-lake

Coal Lake, WA

20% Cloud cover

65 ish Degrees F

Getting pretty windy toward the end of the day

So maybe I should have included this with Independence Lake because I visited them the same day and Coal lake is right on the road on the way the Independence/North Lake trail head. It just seemed special enough for its own mention. So same directions out NF road #4060 almost to the top opposite from restroom facility. The lake is just feet next to the road. Sadly I met a more then a few people here, although mostly rich Seattle yuppies who were mostly mad that that the road wasn’t kept enough to make it easy on their Mercedes. The lake is beautiful and mostly clear and wonderful. I brought the rod this time and the Brook trout did not discriminate on any dry fly you threw out there. The trick was getting them to keep the hook. My suggestion, a very small adult mayfly or caddi. Great views on the way out too a very beautiful place and really easy to get to, perfect for little kiddies or if you don’t have enough daylight to go on a longer hike.  Good luck and get out there! – Leah

“A man on foot, on horseback or on a bicycle will see more, feel more, enjoy more in one mile than the motorized tourists can in a hundred miles.” -Edward Abbey

Independence Lake, WA

 

20% Cloud cover

65 ish Degrees F

Little wind but mostly protected by forest

If you travel out past Granite Falls (Sketchy-ville) on mountain loop hwy, past the Verlot center to NF road #4060 travel all the way till it ends at the tippy top. There is a parking lot here and when I was here there was no one else which was nice, another positive about taking weekends in the week. Anyway travel up the well marked trail head only about one mile and you will come upon a breath taking sight, crystal clear waters so blue you would think its a dream. There is a camp site too if you so desired. Peering into the lake you can see little caddies busy making their shells and moving around like rush hour. There were fish rising here and there but I had not brought the rod so next time. There were these logs that jutted out into the lake and I found myself laying on them for hours looking into the clear blue waters until the sun it seemed had lost interest in this side of the world. I would deeply suggest it, the hike was lovely and serene crossing a few small brooks and pretty darn easy too!

Heres more info! Get out there! Get off your couch and do something outside.

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/independence-and-north-lakes