Wilds of West Seattle

Last night on my way to crit group I joked that I wished I’d brought a flashlight and pocket knife. West Seattle doesn’t do much in the way of streetlights. I have a flashlight app on my phone that works rather well and I used it extensively last night.

It may have got me into more trouble. The flashlight on an iPhone (ie the camera’s flash turned on the whole time) doesn’t have a lot of range. That means you can be tricked by the landscape and think things are going to get better, when really they are going to get worse.

Anyway, to cut a long story short

  1. I am fine, but itchy and I’m pleased that I have strong ankles these days.
  2. Googlemaps lies like a lying thing and presumes that any line on a map is walkable.
  3. Some lines on maps are walkable right up until the point when they take you down icy gullies surrounded by blackberries where climbing back up would be more dangerous than continuing on down – and from what you can make out from the meters of visibility it’s about to get better and as long as there’s any kind of path I’ll be ok.
  4. I have excellent hiking boots with a great tread.
  5. When my path turned into a creek of unknown depth but making loud sounds of rushing water and the path behind me lost to a tangle of ice and blackberries I thought climbing the opposite hill with blackberries was my best option. It was not and I have blackberry lacerations on my arms, face and from ankle to hip.
  6. It is unpleasant, feeling trapped in a dark gully with only an iPhone for illumination and a little bit ridiculous. Thinking “well this makes great material” helps to keep panic at bay. So does thinking of other difficult bushwalks I’ve got through. I tried three different ways of getting out of the gully, none of them worked.
  7. Shoelaces freeze with surprising speed.
  8. I have called someone and actually said, “I’m fine, but if you don’t hear from me and I don’t answer my phone in 20 minutes I am in trouble.”
  9. Wading along the middle of the creek followed the path googlemaps suggested precisely (walking along the bank was impossible and occasionally just dangerous). The water was loud, had scary blind corners and small drops that felt enormous in the dark, but it was not too fast and the water never got more than half way up my shins. I am glad I have wading in creek experience. I was pleased by how well I could read the landscape when I had minute visibility.
  10. My hiking boots remain remarkably comfortable and warm when full of water. They do not leak. They did not chafe afterwards.
  11. I’m tempted to pretend that the blackberry scratches on my face came from my critique group, ’cause we’re all Beyond Thunderdome about our use of adjectives, raaaar.

All in all, it’s good to have adventures, but I think my keychain needs a flashlight…. and perhaps a machete.

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