Between it’s picturesque views, easy topography and general ease of access from Seattle, Rattlesnake has become known as the go-to hike for Washingtonians. It has gotten to the point where one can find hundreds of people on the short trail on any given sunny day. Seasoned hikers tend to give Rattlesnake wide birth for the reasons above, but I was curious... What if instead of those warm, sunny days... You were to explore Rattlesnake on the nastiest, coldest day of the year?
Another path exists.
Fog deep enough to engulf the most weathered travelers’ sense of direction. Wind, rain and snow creating a dance of threes, the beat to which they move known only to themselves.
The lake—ever the picturesque alpine body—had suffered a great calamity. Where once stood an expansive turquoise gem, little remained. Spanning but a quarter of it’s former empire, Rattlesnake Lake was nothing but a shell of forgotten glory.
Or, so it seemed. The mountain lake had weathered times such as these before. With a life measured in millenniums, there remained little that could shake it. A plan? Oh yes… There was a plan. Contracting all of it’s strength to the center, a rock-solid phalanx held firm against the coming winter. With each inward step another petrified stump revealed. Wooden graves, testament to the old lake’s power.
In steps the wanderer.
Picturesque views nothing but a mask, dropped months prior. Stripped to it’s essence, Rattlesnake Ledge lays bare. Stark, robbed of color by the shift in seasons. Yet… Of shyness there is none. Proudly robed in a heavy mist, a sudden realization springs forth.
Rattlesnake was here before us. Rattlesnake will be here after us.
Our internal views of this mountain are nothing but thin veneers stretched across a miles-deep well. Rattlesnake had it’s own identity long before it was given a name.
Today, our traveler saw it.
He started slow.
Handful of pills, swallowed. Boots, laced with utmost care. Injuries were a bear, but even a grizzly can be dealt with given enough planning.
Trailhead reached. With but a lonely songbird for company, he moved like a thief; soft, rocking footfalls to cushion the nagging heel. Knees hinging in exaggerated motions, taking in and dispersing energy. Gait shifted to favor the outstep. Stride, both long and low.
To dampen impacts—and the pain that they brought—he made use of every innate mechanical system at his disposal. It was enough.
An apparition appeared behind. A young woman. Dressed in black.
Just shy of silent, less hiking than gliding upwards, propelled by toned muscles and iron determination in equal measure.
He played to his company, pace quickening. Though ten feet ahead, his every move was a studied match to those made behind.
Spoken word unavailable, stripped off at the trailhead by the gravity of the hike to come, nevertheless they communed.
Peak reached, weary travelers went their separate ways. Alone once more...
The rain came down. Days, weeks, months. A constant drumbeat hammering into the barren land where once a great lake had vied with the mountains themselves for supremacy.
Parched soil took in moisture, dust turning to dirt. Dirt to mud.
Coniferous evergreens regained their luster, pine needles infused with a new sense of growth.
Rivulets flowing through the cracked pavement, the man-made roads grew slick.
Rattlesnake Lake was once again worthy of it’s title. Pond, puddle, plains no longer.
And still, the rain came, unending.
A deal struck, a promise made. From the heavens came crashing down aquatic reinforcements, their numbers legion. A deployment measured not in days, but months. From across the globe they came, an endless barrage of droplets answering the call to arms.
In steps the wanderer.
This time though... Why not enjoy the lake from a... *different* point of view?
Part one below: