Early crisp clear mornings, when summer starts to fade into autumn and all around nature is still waiting for the sun to rise. These are the moments I live for, the moments when the quiet sound of nature waking up for a new day. Here near the shore of the river is where life takes a pause, a breath, and a reflection.
Funny how in the constant movement of our lives, we forget to bring ourselves back to a peaceful state. A state of peace we search for in our busy lives, but never seem to find within ourselves. The state of peace for me has always been fishing. It does not matter if I caught anything or not. It is more about being in the present moment of peace within nature-within the energy of flowing water.
With the autumn season, the stillness of a crisp mornings and evenings along the Skyhomish River only magnifies how beautiful nature is if choose to pause for a moment in time to soak it all in.
What does a person do on a beautiful sunny morning in Seattle? They get up early to run 3.1 miles around a baseball stadium. This past Saturday I participated in Refuse to Abuse 5k at T-Mobile Park. The race benefited the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV), a non-profit that seeks to end domestic violence through advocacy and action for social change. This advocacy towards ending domestic violence is close to my heart since I am a survivor of dating violence and as of today eight years later, I am thriving in a life I could never have imagine if I didn’t get out of that relationship. For a few years I have wanted to participate in this run, but it was not until this past March I could finally do it. Yes I did the whole thing by myself with my mom at the finish line cheering me on.
Sooo… I got up at an early hour to make my way to T-Mobile Park for the fun 5K race. For the past few months I have been training for this moment, and the day had come to see if it worked.
I started out some how in the section where all the walkers were instead of the joggers. By the end of the 3.1 miles I came into the finish line running my hear out. YEP!
I did do mostly power walking through most of the course, but there were times where I jogged a bit to make up for lost time. At one point I jogged-more like ride jogged- down the ramps from the top deck to the players tunnel. A part of the course ran through areas normally restricted to to the public like the tunnels below the stadium where all the player locker rooms, Mariner offices and operations are all located. I even saw people handling player uniforms before the game that night!
I did same most of my energy for running across the warning track towards the third base line where the finish line was. I think some people where a little muffed by my full on speed past them, but who cares I wanted to run the bases from home plate to third ( I know backwards!). Just having your name announced as you cross the finish line like done at the beginning of a game was to awesome for words.
After coming across the line, I strolled towards the bullpens to collect my prize, a medal to commemorate what I had just done. Having my mom waiting to cheer me after finishing was my “grand slam” and me finishing was my “home run” after all those years of healing.
Runner’s high was real!!!
I finished my 5K at 45 minutes and 10 seconds! A little bit slower than my last, but this time I stopped to take it all in.
Seeing T-Mobile Park all lit up by morning sunshine so early in the morning is a breath taking sight to behold, and as one person has said to me, magical-majestic. Time truly holds still in that moment.
Weekend of July 20th was a very busy weekend not only for the Refuse to Abuse Mariner’s Care 5K, but the weekend where all baseball fans turn their attention to Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. This year the Mariner’s own Edgar Martinez was inducted into the class of 2019. For both Saturday and Sunday the Mariners celebrated this monument milestone with Funko Pop heads of Martinez, replicate plaques and a live streaming of the event to all fans in the ballpark before the afternoon game on Sunday. Oh how exciting to be a part of history-baseball history.
The game on July 20th was against the LA Angles (yep saw them in June) and this was the night to celebrate not only getting a free collectable Funko Pop of Martinez, but to celebrate all the hard work leading up to me crossing the finish line earlier in the day at the Refuse to Abuse 5K (more on it later this week). Originally I was going to go with a friend, but the friend ended up bailing on me last two weeks before show time. In the end I found someone else to go with me in the end. Hence my Dad enjoying a beer, Mariner dog and watching baseball live in action.
The Funko Pop up figuring was handed out to the first 20,000 fans entering the stadium. At one point while walking to our seats, a guy bought (yes bought) one of the Funko Pops off us for $20. I still cannot believe that happened to us! Apparently theses Funkos’ will be worth some money on the eBay market once Edgar Martinez is established in the hall of fame.
Our seats this time were the best! I had picked them out back in May after the discount tickets were available from Refuse to Abuse 5K. The seats were along the first base line, and had a great view of the action. Throughout the game, there were so many foul balls flying into our section and at one point a person in the first row did get hit pretty hard by a foul ball. The kicker, those where my original seats before Ticketmaster timed me out for taking so long to pay! I could have ended up with a ball!!
There were a good few people who were Angles fans sitting near us. At one point there were some crazy comments going on around us over one of the players on the Angles team. Mike Trout is the name. At one point a few of the Mariner’s fans started to call him “salmon” as if something funny. There were three Angles fans with jerseys with Mike Trout’s name on them sitting in front of us.
There were a lot of crazy moments in the game, and a few moments where you could not believe you just witnessed some funny thing a player did. I have always loved baseball when it is not being serious all the time, but has some humor to it. I even got to see my favorite third baseman Kyle Seager. Man I love baseball pants!
At the beginning of the 9th inning, it was time to start making our way home before the large crowds started. At this point the game was a tie with 2-2 since 4th inning. When I got home, the score had changed to 2-6 with the Angles beating the Mariners. At least the game was good and not watching a team loose without a fight.
As you read this, by the beginning of the coming week, another Mariner player will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Maybe one day the Mariners will make it to the World Series. There is always next year!
Hiking is a rewarding experience many people in the PNW thoroughly enjoy. Last summer I had the opportunity to experience hiking in remote, alpine regions of Western Washington. When I first started out on the big adventure last summer, I failed to realized I may not know what I was up against. I learned the hard way on a few occasion.
What I failed to realized turned into an adventure within an adventure. Here are the things I wished I knew before hiking in the alpine.
Altitude sickness is not for planes:
I have spent most of my life at or a little above sea level and only experienced altitude sickness when in Tanzania. I should have listened when my own body started to struggle with keeping water and a granola bar down. Breathing started to become harder as I climbed further up the mountain, and the dizziness set in when ever I had to exert more energy to get over a log. I thought I was out of shape, but this is not true.
Lesson: Hiking takes a lot of effort to reach the end point. When hiking in alpine mountain regions, you have to take your time going up, and really tune in with what your body is telling you before it is too late. I was lucky it did not get to this point, but it could have become a major medical emergency.
Beware of snow:
Sheets of ice is more like it! Snow can be found in areas in the middle of summer. Avalanches still happen in the summer as they do in the winter. I recall a moment when hiking up to Fremont Lookout in Mt. Rainer National Park last summer where what sound as a gun shot going off in the distance followed by the sound of a roar alerted everyone in the hiking group of an avalanche sliding down the side of the opposite mountain side! Not to mention slipping and landing hard on a snow cover rock or worst falling into a craven or a lake! You may want to have a snowball fight, but be warned, they hurt when it hits you!
Lesson: Be aware of the snow around you. Falling and breaking something is a danger no matter how prepared you are.
Toilet paper is your friend:
The one time I decided to forgo the toilet paper was the time there was no toilet paper to be had! Normally I would carry a role of toilet paper in my pack, but the one time I forgo it was at a trail head outhouse where there were no rolls left by other hikers. Thank goodness it was not while in the Olympic National Park (mountain goats smell urine and can result in a deadly encounter!), but in Mount Baker National Forest. Hiking up the trail and air yourself out is not the best way to start a hike.
Lesson: Always pack a roll of toilet paper while hiking, traveling in a remote area and road trips. I had mine in Tanzania, but for some reason, I did not have one in the wilderness of Washington!
Wildlife, they are not always afraid of you: The sound of marmots whistling at you is a warning to other marmots of your present, but a deer, bear, cougar or any other such animals, are not afraid of you. I will not forget the time a hiking group left me alone out in the open when a deer suddenly bolted upright and headed into the trees sensing a predator. I at the time sense something was not right, and that a bear or cougar was in the area. Fear of knowing at any moment those two animals are not afraid of you is scary. Imagine hiking down the side of the mountain with just a headlamp and see a bear or worst a cougar in your path. These animals think you are the prey.
Lesson: Be aware of your surroundings, and take caution when hiking through bear or cougar country.
Alpine lakes are cold, proceeded with caution:
When there is snow present, there is a lake or river somewhere near by. Lakes in alpine regions are cold-hypothermia cold. Most alpine lakes are fed by snow or glaciers melting, making these lakes crisp, cold and deadly clear. Swimming in them should be done with caution if not ever. On a hot sweaty hiking day in the summer they are inviting, but not all alpine lakes are the same temperature, and each one you encounter will feel different. Having your body submerged in for one minute can cause hypothermia to the body. I remember standing in such lake up to my wast, and started to not be able to feel my legs!! It was difficult to get out of the water, and took ten minutes of rubbing my legs to get the deathly white color to a living flesh color. The rest of the hike back down to the van was painful.
Also, the water is not exactly safe the drink either from a glacier stream, river or lake.
Lesson: Just dip you hot sweaty feet into the water instead of the shoreline and treat the water you pull from the lake if drinking it.
Storm clouds are in your face:
I will not forget staring face to face with a dark black cloud on the Johnson’s Ridge Observatory Trail at Mount St. Helens. Being high up with little to no treeline protection can mean anything can happen in a split second. Scary when the cloud can have lightning. Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park I remember how fast those clouds moved across the landscape, and how one minute it is a nice sunny day with warmth to a few seconds it is blizzard conditions and the temperature drops to freezing. A simple rain jacket is not enough, nor a simple baseball cap and even the fleece jacket does not keep you warm. Hypothermia strikes by lightening or anything nature throws at you can become life to death situation.
Lesson: Be prepared for all-weather conditions and pack winter clothing when hiking in higher regions of the mountains not matter if it is an eighty degree weather day. Dressing in layers that can be easily shed during the hike or put on is your friend.
Go Girl can be a lifesaver: Men have it easier than women when needing to go on a backcountry trail. Men just go off into the bushes without much thought, but us women, we need to find a secluded vulnerable place to do our business. After having to (TMI alert) pee off a trail stripping to be half-naked, and almost if not peeing on ones self, is just too much work (and cold wind blowing on your bum). Not to mention some other hikers just don’t get it why you are crouched down in the bushes!
Lesson: Get a Go Girl to use for hikes where the nearest outhouse is miles away, and you can discreetly just go behind a bush.
Wildfires: Where there is smoke, there is a fire! This is not something I learned the hard way, but it was always in the back of the mind. Hiking in the alpine and backcountry regions of the mountains during the late spring through the fall can put hikers into the path of a wildfire. From an old fire lookout, I saw a two (one-off in Canada, the other in Eastern Washington) wildfires in the distance burning in the opposite directions from me. Still, to see the smoke hanging in the air, it was a sign to start back down to safety in case the fire decided to switch directions.
What to do: Always check conditions before leaving on the hike, being aware of the surrounding area, and when you smell smoke, see it or hear it, move fast away from it. See this link for more information: Dos and Don’t s of Wildfires.
Once you hike in the alpine, you are never the same again!
This summer go enjoy a backcountry hike, and don’t do what I did!
Over the years as I have gone hiking around Washington, I am still appalled at behavior of other trail hikers. At this point I no longer go hiking up to Rattlesnake Ledge after witnessing some very scary sh*t of some people on the ledge. Last summer I hiked many spectacular places in western Washington, but what the pictures don’t show you is the bad behavior some users have left behind. Most trail, mountaineer, back-country organizations and US Forest Service have stressed enough times is, LEAVE NO TRACE BEHIND of your presences.
Still there are people who are “trail” jerks who think it is okay not to follow common sense or trail etiquette. A Trail Jerk is defined as people who do not get it-who think they can do anything they want whether they want to where ever they want because “we are taxpayers and no one is going to tell us what we can and can’t do” (If you think you maybe a trail jerk take this quiz by PNW Adventure Sisters).
With Seattle having an influx of people who want to get out of the city enjoy nature, there are going to be problems arising on trails. These problems don’t have to be the norm (never should be!) if all trail users (including pets) followed common sense rules and laws.
Here are some important rules to follow on your next hike through nature:
Keep dogs on leashes
Not only does it protect your dog from wildlife, but keeps other trail users safe from your dog. People on trails do get injured from dogs not on a leash after falls, or trips happen. Imagine causing someone to fall off a side of cliff because your dog tripped them? Also it protects sensitive areas that would take years to restore once disturbed.
Know the right way
What does this mean? It means when encountering other hikers on the trail, the general rule is the person going downhill yields to the person going uphill. I have seen countless times people not yielding to each other only to shoulder checking each other while passing. On mix use trails mountain bikes yield to hikers and everyone, yes everyone, must yield to horses.
Step aside to let people pass Like driving on a freeway, let the faster hikers, and trail runners pass you. If you are the fast hiker or trail runner, make sure to make your presence known to the other with a polite simple hello or excuse me when approaching. Also to other hikers, be aware of those around you in case someone is trying to pass. It is better to make yourself known when passing as to not surprise the person.
Hiking in groups
When hiking in a group don’t take up the whole width of the trail not allowing people to pass your group. Hiking in a single file line is much appreciated, and still can have a conversation with those in the group.
Taking a trail break or stopping
Move off the trail or over the side when you need a break or stopping for a nature selfie. Allowing people to pass is common curtsies bestowed on others, which will be returned further up or down the trail. Also do not abruptly stop in the middle of the trail with people behind unless there is something very wrong up ahead.
Stay on the trail
This should be common sense. Leave not trace is not a rule, but a necessity.
Speak in low voices whenever possible. Hiking on the trail for some is to be in a quiet place where they can listen to nature’s soundtrack instead of the latest rap song! Playing music as you hike through a speaker disturbs not only nature, but disturbs other people who come for peace and quiet. Please, just please, use headphones if you like a hiking soundtrack other then nature’s. I thank you in advance for this.
Pack all waste out
Human, pet, food, etc. Just pack out what you hiked in with (unless water). Do not relieve yourself outdoors unless 200ft from the trail and away from water sources. Those who happen upon someone relieving themselves, just keep moving on!
Let cairns be Cairn are pyramids of small rocks that mark trail routes and decorate mountain summits. Hikers rely on cairns to find their way along trails. Respect them! Destroying them is a no-no!
We all want to have an enjoyable experience in nature, so do not be trail jerks and follow simple etiquette rules for everyone.
Every first and third Saturday of the month Amazon lets the public tour inside the spheres and on this particular trip, the Corps flower was ready to bloom!
I will admit, I am jealous of the employees of Amazon for having access to an amazing space to work and wish more companies would utilize more nature in their buildings. The Spheres exterior is made up of 2,636 panes of glass, making it a greenhouse/bio dome effect. For the plant nerd in me I was in heaven!
This living wall in 60 feet tall and expands all the way up to the fourth floor of the middle sphere.
The Spheres have over 40,000 plants from cloud forests around the world. The plants inside are native to mid-elevation cloud forest ecosystems at altitudes of 3,000 to 10,000 feet. The plants are a remarkable testament to biodiversity found in nature around the world with 3,000 of the plant species coming from tropical forests. All plants present in the Spheres are sourced through collections at universities, seed growers and are not taken from the wild.
There are orchids, epiphytes, succulents, and carnivorous plants hidden among all the other tropical plants. The Spheres even houses ethnological species that cure disease and some are endangered in the wild.
Now this rather large plant is the Corps flower which when it blooms it will give off a smell described at rotting flesh. If you are reading this live, the flower at the time of visit was just days from opening. The flowering plant is a rare sight to behold since it takes years for the flower to fully form to bloom.
The canopy walk and the birds nest are crowed favorites! The wooden boards give the effect of an old tree house when taking across them!
As a scientist and a nature nerd, I highly recommend going to see The Spheres and learn more about Amazon’s innovative thinking about the how workplace spaces in urban offices should have a direct link to nature. Also on weekends the public parking garages under the Amazon buildings close by are free.