Sunday Morning: Sunrise Hike

In an effort to “be here now” and to refresh my mind, body and soul I decided to kick off Sunday morning with a sunrise hike.

Up before the birds, my alarm went off at 5:15am where I proceeded to roll my way to my car stopping just long enough to fill up my water bottle and grabbing some strawberries from the refrigerator. It’s amazing how eerie a city can feel when you are the only moving vehicle on the road. Not for long though- as soon as I merged on to I-90 (hi, home!) there were cars buzzing past, each with their own agenda for the day. I wondered what so many people were doing awake and on the go at 5:30am.

Cruising along the familiar I-90E, I made my way to North Bend. This morning’s hike was going to be one I knew well but have yet to see it in the winter or at sunrise/the Golden Hour- Rattlesnake Ledge. It was so peaceful out, black sky- dotted with a blanket of bright, twinkling stars. I used to love looking at the stars in Minnesota, and have missed their magical sparkle.

Taking Exit 32 just past North Bend, Washington, I wound through the foothills, weaving in and out of trees, guided only by the light coming from my cars. As I drove, the sky slowly began to fade from black to a brilliant hue of dark denim.

Pulling into the parking lot, there were only 2 other cars there. I was a little nervous to just be scampering into the woods by myself but I quickly found a group of three elders to latch onto. They offered me a flashlight, which I declined thanks to Apple IPhones (sigh, I wish that wasn’t a sentence or a thing that even had to happen). I set out slightly before them, but they quickly found their way to meet me and then pass me. I need more cardio in my life- apparently.

After only about 15 minutes into my hike, the group I was trying to stay with already left me in the dust. Oh well, I was no longer nervous to be in the woods alone- the sky was beginning to lighten a bit. Sometimes I let my mind run wild with horror stories that, in reality, the chance of happening to me are slim to none.

The trail was pretty clear. It was a crisp “winter” morning. Well, actually, being that it was 32degrees this morning, the term winter could ring true in my book. Luckily, we weren’t deep enough into the mountains so there was no snow. I was able to get by with just my Nikes, leggings, sweatshirt (Go Gophers) and fleece. The path was clear for the most part- a little muddy and slick the higher up I went but generally clear.

I started to sweat and suddenly felt like I was racing against time, nature and myself. It had been awhile since I had taken part of any timed run. Of course, I dance each week and take barre classes every day but the last time I had to do a slight jog, TIMED, UPHILL, was… never. I could feel my breath turn on me, my legs started to become Jell-O and some sort of grossness was developing in my throat and running out of my nose. I was the commander of the struggle bus this morning and starting to worry I would miss the sunrise!

Based on previous hikes, I had allotted about 45 minutes to make it to the top of the trail. I ended up taking 50 and arriving two minutes after the sun was set to “rise.” Lucky for me, a sunrise isn’t a one and down type of thing. Up on the top, the brilliant view was still very much appealing. Overlooking the east, the lookout point was packed with people. I wondered where they all had come from, the parking lot was nearly empty and aside from the initial pack of grandpa’s no one had passed me on the trail.

Either way, I found a spot to sit and take in the view. The wind had picked up, causing the sweat that had formed on my back to freeze and send chills down my entire body. My peaceful moment of solitude that I had created in my mind for this moment was nowhere close to happening. Not only were there a good twenty people up on top, but also there were about fifteen teenagers who were nothing less than obnoxious. Call me old and cranky but I just don’t think screeching and high-pitched noises should be a thing anytime before 7 am.

I noticed a pair standing back a bit and sporting a Minnesota sweatshirt. I went over and struck up conversation. Turns out, they too had just moved to Seattle this summer. They had gone to school in Mankato and now working at Amazon. Small world! We engaged in friendly conversation, like any good and true Minnesotan would, for a good five minutes before I left them with a wave.

Starting my way back down, my hands were frozen. It felt like I was back in Minnesota for a moment, which I didn’t mind. There are some moments when I miss Minnesota and it’s cold, frozen tundra ways. I miss how the people are so friendly, here, I said good morning to every one I passed, which seems to catch most by surprise. There was one, who stopped and again, we engaged in a short conversation. He asked how the sunrise was and shared with me that apparently we won’t get brilliant colors from the sunrise if it’s too clear out. We need clouds to make the colors and the hues. Interesting, something I will be googling at a later date.

Climbing down is naturally faster and quicker than going up. As the sun brightened up the woods, more and more people, teenagers, families and dogs were starting their own trek up the 2-mile path. I knew that in the summertime, this was a very family-friendly and popular spot for hikes and swims. I was a little surprised to see how full and busy the hike and the parking lot were in the middle of winter. Good, I like to see other people out and living active lives. Makes it easier to want to live one.

Even without the majestic and brilliants hues of the sky, I always feel better after spending time outside and doing something active. One of my favorite hikes, I’m excited to do it again- giving myself a few more minutes and maybe bringing a blanket this time. Next visitor to Seattle, be ready : )

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