The car park was surprisingly full for such an overcast day; the gravel still soaked from the on-again off-again showers. We were prepared, though, with jackets and plastic bags to wrap around valuables should Washington’s clouds live up to their reputation.
Nearly two months had passed since I flew into Sea-Tac from Stockholm, after having blundered my way across Central Asia and the Middle East. They say, “…third time’s a charm!” like the saying makes it true, but that’s rarely the case; it certainly wasn’t in mine. The third time coming home from a perception jarring journey marked the third time I found myself bewildered by the familiarity of home.
The hike would help. I’d never been to Lake 22 before.
My friends led the way, though the trail was easy to follow. Within minutes, I found myself in the old growth of the Mt. Baker Snoqualmie National Forest. Pillows of moss, the massive trunks of hemlocks and cedars crowding the trail, the constant murmur and roar of a distant stream. Though the place was a new one, each element comprising it felt eerily familiar.
It’s a safe love for a comfortable place.
But I miss the road, desperately. I love the thrill of exotic sights, the raw surge of adrenaline from surmounting a new obstacle, the euphoric contentment which comes from relinquishing control. I love the chaos and uncertainty. The rush.
It’s a fevered love for a dangerous thing.
We followed the trail onward, past remnants of a wooden walkway cast aside. It was soggy and rotten, the timber long dead from being cut to pieces and fashioned into a new form. On either side, the giant evergreens loomed like sentinels standing somber vigil.
The air was heavy with humidity, the musky smell of wet earth filled our lungs with each breath. I breathed deep and closed my eyes. I’d missed that smell. The trail wound further up the mountain, the forest opened up and we felt the first drops of rain. Another thing I’d missed, strange enough.
Washington is my home, my safe haven. It is the harbor I return to because it is familiar and reassuring. And yet, it keeps me from the sea. When I’m here, a part of me slumbers. The part of me that screamed at the sinking sun staining the rippling sands of the Gobi. The part that set my jaw and willed my feet to carry on as I crested the pass between two landlocked countries half a world away. The part with a thirst for life unable to be slaked. While I am here it slumbers like a candle starved of oxygen, and I am diminished.
Finally, the signs of winter were at hand, there at the top. A walkway crusted with ice in either direction, the placid stillness of the lake lay ahead. It was beautiful.
As Brandon, Sandy, Chris, and I enjoyed a snack and photo shoot by the lake, we took seconds off from laughing at Sandy’s endeavors for an epic Seahawks fan photo to appreciate the view in front of us. I couldn’t think of anyone better to share the view with.
The road could wait a bit longer.
We used Ramblr to track our route up to Lake 22. Check out the map below, or head over to the Ramblr site and see our trip in detail! You can even download the GPX data and follow in our footsteps.