I don’t hike much on my own. I can count the solo hikes I’ve been on pretty quickly–only one. For me it’s similar to going to a bar alone. Sure, I could, but why? I like company and conversation. I like the feeling of working towards something with someone on a hike or a climb. So I was surprised last night when I started to plan a hike by myself without even thinking to ask anyone else if they wanted to join. My achilles is still sore and after skiing all morning I wanted to do something at my own pace, without worrying about coordinating or discussing if turning around was a good idea. Funny enough, a few friends of mine didn’t have the same solo trip in mind, but did want to do the same hike. I went to sleep not sure if we were meeting up or not, but sure that I’d be headed out in the morning.
The drive out to North Bend was easy– little traffic, a little sun glare on the road. I brought the dogs (so maybe this doesn’t really count as a solo hike?) and the trailhead parking lot was the emptiest I’ve seen for a midmorning start.
The first mile or so felt like another world. There was sun in Seattle, but here it was mist and fog blurring between the trees. Moss hung, mud squealched and we plodded along. I heard the snow before I saw it, falling in thick clumps out of the trees. I love the way snow slowly takes over as you switchback up a mountain. At first it’s visible just a little higher up, in tree branches and through the woods. Then the trail starts to get slushy in shaded areas, mud melding in to packed snow and footprints. Eventually you turn and realize that snow is on all the branches and the light rain has switched over to flakes. I put on my micro spikes and we countinued up for another mile or so until the dogs started to shiver and we turned around.
On the way back we ran in to my friends on their way up. We gave hugs all around and chatted until the dogs started to whine and we continued our separate ways.