Rattlesnake Ridge Trail is a 5.1 mile out and back trail located near North Bend, Washington that taught me in simple ways to wonder more. I am not sure which I loved most about this one- the winding forest, or the rewarding view from the top- overlooking the Lake, the Cascades, Mt. Si, and Snoqualmie Pass.
It was the middle of October, and I was mentally patting myself on the back while driving to the trailhead “I squeezed in another hike before snowfall,” I thought.
As I parked, I passed Rattlesnake Lake, and headed up the gravel road that quickly turned into the trailhead. With my pup by my side, I pulled my beanie out of my pack and pulled it over my ears which were already turning red from the slicing cool wind.
I walked and switched back-and-forth between a wide view of the entire trail to a micro view of what life I was sharing the forest with, some things making me stop in my tracks.
This was one of those trails that almost forced me to stop and take a look at my surroundings. The entire forest was flourishing; even the rock walls that line the side of the trail were covered in moss, mushrooms, and different types of micro plant species.
I stared at the trunk of a tree in the middle of the trail and I tried to make out the markings on it. I wondered if the destruction of the bark was from animals, irresponsible trail dwellers, or simple decomposition over time. I leaned in a little closer, and couldn’t help but make out the bark owl-like face peering right back at me in the center of the tree, which reminded me of trying to find shapes in clouds while laying on my back as a girl.
From the beginning, the trail was gracefully magnificent; it almost seemed as if the rainfall from the night before had seeped into every color in the forest, enhancing its vibrancy. It reminded me of looking for a famous agate, Ellensburg Blue, in the valley surrounding my town. If you took the agates down to the creek and covered them in water, you could see the sky blue color in an even more beautiful way.
I kept seeing movement in the distance, lifting my head on high alert and noticing massive bright yellow leaves falling from the tall trees above. For the next hour, I couldn’t help but stare at the sky every few minutes, getting lost in the white abyss surrounded by the tops of trees that had experienced the same serenity far before I ever had.
It is beautiful to me how this tranquility is something I can always find on the trail, but it feels different every time. Even experiencing the same trail in a different season, or simply on another day, gives me another appreciation for walking through life and on the same dirt itself.
A few practical notes about Rattlesnake Ridge:
One thing that I didn’t particularly enjoy about this hike is that I could hear airplanes overhead almost the entire way up. I think I counted around six planes fly over the mountain, which didn’t ruin the experience, but did seem to pull me out of the moment each time.
I passed many people on this trail, as it is a popular choice in the North Bend area. It was easy enough where I didn’t need to stop to catch my breath the entire way up, and I thought about how one day I could bring my family back with a few more water breaks.
About halfway up the hike, I veered left on a side trail and follow the noise of running water. I came across a beautiful stream of water that flows down a stair-like hillside with rage, being fueled by the precipitation in the area.
As I continued uphill, the forest quieted and set the mood of a more intimate experience. As I moved forward, I felt like I was walking on a never-ending trail, almost in a dreamlike state, floating past long skinny trees on either side as my legs pushed one in front of the other.
As I reached the top, there were several smaller viewpoints that we’re rewarding enough in their own way. Each one, getting more and more unexplainable as I went along. Summiting the highest peak, there was a giant slab, about 20 yards long with the ledge at the very end that overlooked it all. There were cracks beneath my feet that went down over 30 feet in some cases.
I grabbed my tail wagging sidekick, held on with both arms and tightened my pack straps as I leaped over each crack and peered over the edge of the misty viewpoint. I looked over a large portion of the town and the parking lot, where each car looked like a tiny freckle on the face of the valley.
After my post on Movement Meditation, I realized that the next natural step to sharing my hiking experiences would also be to note the lesson or reminder that is pushed into my heart more deeply, as “teaching of the trails” happen through my experience without intention. It is gratifying to me to watch this blog’s progress and transformation as I remind myself that, creativity inspires creativity.
On the way down, I wrapped up my experience mentally and summed it up in one word- wonder.
I think that being wondrous and curious is something that we tend to lose sight of as we grow older, assuming that we know the ways of the world when in reality, we are all just taking it day by day. I think that part of this wonder-death is simply becoming familiar with life itself, while I cannot deny that the internet and mass production of content plays a major role in driving the spear into our child-like wonder.
Of course, as we grow, our curiosity about different topics matures with us. As I ran my fingers across moss and followed birds that hopped from tree to tree, I vowed to myself to adopt more of a growth mindset. A “growth mindset” is the idea that we do not have fixed intelligence or talents, and anyone can grow in intelligence or talent. Taking on more of a growth mindset inspires us to take risks, wonder out loud, and explore the many things that spark new ideas, creating even more wonder in turn.