Friday, August 13, 2010

Trekking with a pooch + Meteor-watching with wild pigs


Seattleites love dogs. They're everywhere. People hike with their dogs, swim with them in the lake, take them into stores, sit with them on the sidewalk outside of cafes. Of the six units in my apartment building, which technically disallows dogs, two managed to talk our landlord into keeping one anyway.

Every time I'm out running or hiking in the mountains, I'm a little jealous of the people who are hiking with dogs. I still remember reading an article in Runner's World maybe 5 or 6 years ago about the ultrarunner Scott Jurek, and how he'd go for epic long runs in the mountains with his husky, Tonto. (On a sidenote, the article also discussed his making a home in Seattle, working at a local running store, and cooking delicious vegan food all the time. Upon reading the article, I remember thinking to myself, I want this guy's life! It's kind of cool now that we live in the same neighborhood in Seattle and overlapped at the Orcas Island run back in February.) Anyway - the problem, of course, is that there's no way my current lifestyle would allow for a dog. Some days, I leave for work by 8 in the morning, and between jobs, don't get home again until 11 at night. Not a dog-bladder-friendly schedule, by any means.

Likewise, I think it's really cool that people don't let having babies keep them from getting out into the mountains; I love the kid carrier backpacks, and how happy and engaged the little toddlers look as they get to go for a slow ride through the forest. I will strive to be that kind of parent someday. But of course, no dogs or small children for now; in the meantime, my only hiking companions are other grown up humans, when we can coordinate our work schedules.

Happily, this week, though, my friend James called me up with an awesome proposition: he's dogsitting for the week and wanted to take his dogsitting charge, an adorable lab/border collie mix named Ruby, for a hike. Elodie and I had made late evening dinner plans on the eastside for that evening, so it worked out well for James, Ruby, and I to do a nice local hike on the eastside, then meet up with Elodie for dinner (giant avocado bacon burgers at Red Robin, YUM) afterward.

Yes, it was everything I dreamed it would be.

The sunset rocked, too:

Miles: 7.5


This one wasn't really a hike, but I'm enjoying my blog's temporary foray into hike-chronicling, so I'll keep the format. Last night around midnight, the annual Perseids meteor shower peaked. It's always the second week of August, and traditionally, my aunt and uncle host a big stargazing/meteor-watching party and campout on their land. I'd forgotten about the meteor shower this year, until Brant brought it up at work yesterday and mentioned that he'd rented out a bivy sack, with no plans whatsoever except the general thought that it'd be cool to go sleep somewhere away from the city's light pollution and watch for falling stars.

The big deal this year is that we've just had a new moon a couple nights ago. "Moonless Perseids" only happen once every three years - but the absence of moonlight makes a big difference in terms of how many stars are visible with the naked eye. Although I had a late tutoring lesson last night yesterday and had been dreaming through my whole workday about getting a long night of sleep in my wonderful bed, I was intrigued by Brant's plans. Although neither of us knew exactly where to go to watch for meteors, Cam popped out of the woodwork at the opportune moment to contribute a suggestion. He reappeared moments later with a printed Google map and a hand-drawn dotted line snaking all over country roads between Redmond and Fall City, with a little star marking "Da Spot" which he recommended for us.

Come 10 p.m. last night, Brant and I set out for the country. Again, I felt amazed at how easy it is in Washington to move between vastly different landscapes in a short span of time. You can literally go from beach to mountains to city to suburbs to rural farms, all in the span of an hour's drive. It didn't take us long to get completely away from city lights. With my sun roof open, we cruised winding country roads in search of the perfect place to lay out our bivy sacks and sleeping bags.

We found it. We had it all to ourselves. We had flat ground to lie on and a panoramic view of the night sky that included thousands upon thousands of stars. I could hardly even find the big dipper, because I'm so unaccustomed to several hundred stars being visible inside of the dipper, too. The meteors were pretty spectacular - at least one every couple of minutes, and sometimes two or three right in a row, almost criss-crossing each other in the sky. We had great snacks.

At some point, there was a fairly loud chorus of snorting and grunting from the other side of the tall row of blackberry bushes we'd lay out sleeping bags next to. Brant was off exploring on his own, and my sympathetic nerve system seriously kicked in at the idea of some wild animal being out there in the darkness. Brant had heard it even from where he was, probably fifty yards away, but we concluded that it was probably just a little piggy at the farm next to which we'd camped out.

Finally around 2 a.m. or so, I dropped off to sleep. Woke up at 6 to Brant tromping around in the sea of fog that had come in overnight. (The sky was completely clear for the duration of our meteor-watching...a miracle!) I got up, and we walked around a little bit, plucked fresh blackberries off the bushes, and picked up where our conversations had left off the night before as we dropped off to sleep.

Overall, a great success.


Miles: .5ish

Total Mileage so far: 30.5 (of 100)
Total Funds Raised so far: $170 (of $300)


1 comment:

  1. So glad you were able to be in such a perfect viewing spot for the Perseids, Yitka! It sounds beautiful! By the way- you know how Uncle David loves to scare nieces and nephews who are camping. Are you sure it wasn't him in the bushes? ;-)