You know the old saying, "When in Washington, do as the Washington's do". Well today we did just that. After a quick stop at Target to pick up a backpack and bottled water we headed out to Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. Located in the "Issaquah Alps," Cougar Mountain Park is famous for having more than 36 miles of hiking trails.
The particular trail we were in search of wasn't 20 minutes from our apartment, and the transition from urban to rural seemed to happen instantaneously. What was once fast food restaurants and four lanes of traffic was now winding roads and steep mountains full of vegetation.
Upon seeing the grandeur of what I feared was the mountain I was about to climb, I became a little nervous. After all, my fat ass is still carrying 20lbs. of baby weight. I haven't exercised since before I became pregnant. And I'm from Columbus people...where we unhealthy fat people stay fat, we don't exercise, and we order pizza and watch our reality tv shows! We are lazy!
So we drive UP (after all, this is a mountain) into the parking lot and find one space left. I figure the trail must not be too grueling considering how popular this place is. I don't suppose families come out here if it's an 'expert' trail, right?
Jeremy puts on the Snugli and we strap Preston in. I'm wearing the backpack. And we're off! As we pass the park signage, I can't help but notice a flyer for RUNNING this trail at 7a.m. Sunday. At that point I was confident this was going to be fun and leisurely and headed onward with a smile.
...Fast forward to a quarter mile up this mountain and I'm already complaining. My chest is hurting, my knees are cracking, and I can barely catch my breath. OMG, I'm going to die! But I blaze on and before I know it we hit the .5 mile mark.
We're heading back, right Jeremy?
My dear husband, who is breathing the same as he would if sitting on the couch, assures me the lookout point (which is our goal) is only another 1.5 miles. So I whine and complain some more, but inside I really do want to make it to the lookout point. I keep telling myself, "This mountain isn't going to beat me. I may be on the verge of hyperventilating, but there is no way I'm going to quit and look like one gigantic vagina in front of my husband."
We continue to slowly (as I stop for a break every 15 yards) move upward. I'm running out of steam. I'm bending over trying to catch my breath. A waterfall of sweat is streaming down my back, between my butt cheeks and onto my legs. My heart is beating out of my chest. I'm in bad shape people. Jeremy isn't even sweating.
About this time we encounter a young couple coming down the trail. So I ask them, "How much longer to the top?" (Jeremy finds this particularly hilarious. As if I could make it to the top. But I didn't mean 'the top' I meant the lookout.) Anyhow, the girl kind of laughs at me and says, "It's brutal. About 4 miles." I could have possibly turned white at that point, but my face was bright red from overheating. She then went on to say that the lookout point was about another quarter mile, and that we could see Mt. Rainier through the trees.
Another quarter mile. I can do this! I've made it this far. I MUST KEEP GOING.
As we continued up the trail my state of exhaustion caused my mind to start playing tricks on me. I started second-guessing the couple we met. Was the lookout point really a quarter mile? What if it was a half mile? How far have we went? What if we pass it? And as all these thoughts were rushing through my brain, I started to get the urge to throw up. So I stopped, once again, and fought back the puke.
At this point Jeremy said we should just turn around and go back. I think he realized I was seriously out of shape, and despite the drama, really wasn't fairing all that well. But I insisted we continue, because for all we knew the lookout point was right over the next bend...and it was!
As Jeremy stood there in awe of Mt. Rainier, I was propped up against two trees trying regain composure. Within a couple minutes I was well enough to take in the view, snap a few pictures, and even partake in a family portrait. This was definitely worth it!
The total hike was 4 miles, with a 1,200ft climb. It took us an hour and fifteen minutes to make it up the trail, and only 45 minutes to climb down (at which point my legs were shaking and wobbly).
Jeremy loved it. I liked it. And Preston seemed indifferent. He didn't make one peep the entire hike. But it must have wore him out, because he was asleep in the car before we got out of the parking lot!
On the way home Jeremy patted me on the back and said, "You did good milk toast. I'm proud of you." Stupidly, I asked what milk toast was. To which he replied, "What happens when you dip toast in milk? It gets soggy. Just like you. Soggy."
Ahhh, marital bliss.
Jeremy and Preston deep in vegetation. (Click on any pic to make larger.)
Pic from lookout point. Jeremy is holding the camera. I'm pushing the button. And Preston is reaching for the lens. (Notice my sweaty pits.)
View of Mt. Rainier from the lookout point.