Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pre-Olympics in Seattle

I arrived in Seattle to one of the hottest and driest Junes the area had ever seen.  My brother and his girlfriend, A, took me out for brunch at a cute neighborhood crepe place.  The coffee was remarkable, and the atmosphere was sweltering.  Few establishments in Seattle have air conditioning, and this restaurant was no exception.  We were sweaty by the time we finished our breakfast.  

Then I set up a temporary camp at their new house while we prepared our supplies for the hike.  I don't know what I enjoyed most:  organizing my clothes and personal items in my pack, or spending time with my little brother in his home.  It's very special to be with someone you love in the place that makes them the most happy.

We went for a walk in the neighborhood for a beer and some supplies.  He had been putting off buying a new tent for awhile, so I was glad to be a catalyst to improve his backpacking supplies.  We went into a local store and he found a Big Agnes-brand 3-person tent.  I referred to the tent as Big Agnes for the duration of our trip.  How could I not?  It's called Big Agnes.  

We walked past a farmer's market that was packing up, and a farmer at one of the stands asked us if we'd like some raspberries.  I said thank you, I'd love some, and he handed me an entire flat of raspberries!  We carried the berries with us to King's pub  where the bartender used them to make us a custom raspberry margarita.  These things only happen on vacation!

Ryan, A., and me at King's pub
Back at Ryan's house he packed our food in bear-proof containers before stuffing it into his pack.  Always a gentleman, he didn't allow me to pack any of our mutual food or equipment in my backpack.  I only packed my own water and supplies.  While he tended to the food, I made us a pre-hike raspberry pie, because that's what you do when you're given a flat of raspberries the night before heading into the backcountry.  You bake them into a pie.

Fortunately I was pretty worn out from my long day of flying, planning, walking, and packing, so I was ready to turn into my cozy bed despite my high level of excitement.  A. had made the guest room very welcoming for me, with chocolate bars, water bottles, and Tim's chips displayed on the nightstand.  I rearranged the decorative pillows to make room for my head, read a few chapters of The Invention of Wings, then snuggled in for the night.

I awoke to the soft morning light of Seattle slanting through the wooden blinds.  This is the day, I thought.  It has finally arrived.  I am going hiking in the Olympic Mountains.

Ryan scrambled some eggs with peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, olives, and cheese.  I ate at their kitchen table, admiring the fine details of their newly updated kitchen:  butcher block table top, self-installed beer tap, tiled backsplash, a potted orchid blooming over the table.  The chickens made their morning clucking noises behind me in the yard.  I could have stayed there all day but I lingered only for a moment; it was time to finalize our packs and hop in the car.

Ryan and his friends have a tradition that on their way out of town to go backpacking they top at their favorite bakery for some treats.  Who was I to stand in the way of tradition?  The bakery was well-stocked with all sorts of goodies and smells.  It was very hard to choose.  I fell back on an old favorite, a croissant, because I love croissants and it is fun to be in search of the world's finest croissant.  I also got a chocolate macaroon that was incredible.  But Ryan hit the pastry jackpot by trying something new:  a chocolate bismark.  Neither of us were familiar with bismarks, but now we can't go back.  It had a flaky and savory exterior, a custard-filled interior, and a light coating of chocolate icing.  It was the best pastry I've ever had.  

Then we were off!  Driving south out of Seattle, west through Olympia, and north up the peninsula.  The excitement was building with every mile.  At 11:30 we pulled into the Ranger's station at Lake Quinault to get our backcountry pass.  The ranger gave us a bit of info about bear sightings, camping in the backcountry, and the weather.  In minutes we were driving down a winding gravel road to park the car at Graves Creek.  

Here we go! 

No comments:

Post a Comment