Saturday, January 26, 2013

Taking my Whistle to Whistle Lake

Reflecting back on the last few years, from the time I decided hiking was going to be 'my thing' until now, it's exciting to see how far I've come. My 26 lessons, (though many are silly and meant to make you laugh) have been hard learned through trial and error; and they have really helped me gain a better understanding and appreciation for what it takes to be a successful hiker. Though, I never really pondered what it meant to be an unsuccessful hiker, until I clicked on this link that was posted on my favorite hiking forum.
(Sorry, for some reason I just can't make links work anymore on here.You'll have to copy and paste if you want to read it)
The possibility of dying is something we live with at all times, whether we think about it or not. I downplay the risks I take hiking because more people die just driving to work everyday--so why think about it? But this story made me think about it...really think  about it. There's a difference between letting the risks of life keep you from fully living, and living with those risks in a way that is smart and respectful of the consequences of being stupid.
I took my daughter and a friend swimming here once...good times
And so, after reading that horribly tragic story, I found myself at REI staring at a wall full of survival 'essentials'. Ugh. Do you know how many first aid kits they have? Or fire starting kits? Or Swiss army knives? I was starting to feel like my pocket book was the only thing in real danger, and just about bolted. And then I found a great looking day pack that was marked down to $29!! It made me so excited, that subsequently spending another $70 on waterproof matches, emergency whistle, survival blanket and such, didn't feel so bad. Survivorman had nothing on me now!
Although, I found I could have saved a couple bucks, because the awesome day pack I bought had all the bells and whistles...meaning literally, a built in whistle! My husband was so impressed that he tried it on, thinking he may want to borrow it sometime. When he modeled it to me, he looked like Baby Huey. (Only baby boomers will get the reference--but you young ones can google it) The sternum strap looked like a thorax strap--even with every other strap adjusted to the max. What the heck? (He really did look ridiculous; I should have taken a picture) I took a closer look at the tags and found out it was a "tween pack", designed for a 9-12 year old. I should have bargain hunting blundering always comes back to bite me. But, I'm not as large as my husband, and so I decided for $29, the pack was going to have to work. (Reminding me of the step sister on Cinderella..."I'll MAKE it fit!") I promise though--when it comes to my real backpack, I will not falter! I will buy what fits me best, regardless of price. (be strong, strong ;))
It looks kinda huge here, but it is holding at least 10 pounds of "essentials". (Ok, I might have added a few extra non-essentials ;)) 
I couldn't wait to give my tween pack a test run, and so I was off to Whistle Lake the first chance I had. I couldn't help feeling a little silly with my "survival bag"; I mean, Whistle Lake is like a thoroughfare. Tons of teens come here in the summer to booze it up and jump off the rocks into the much so that there are signs everywhere warning that alcohol is prohibited.
This will surely put an end to the debauchery!..., maybe not. (this garbage can was 20 feet from the sign)

It was my first time there in the winter, and without the crowds I found it to be just perfect. A peaceful, moderate (four miles or so, with nothing too steep, but not too flat either) hike around a gorgeous lake; what could be better?

I broke out my map (essential #1!) and thought I might exercise my navigational skills by taking a few of the MANY intertwining trails that permeate the 2200 acre area; but then decided the simple loop was going to be good enough for the day. I mean, look at this map. It reminds me of my mom's spider veins! (Can I say that? Shoot, she's dead, she doesn't care. Besides, she's the one who gave me my love of inappropriate humor)
I must say though, that as long as you have a map, it would be very hard to get lost here; even with that maze of trails. I have never seen more signage--everything is very obviously marked. I even came across this mall type directory, with a 'you are here' arrow and all. City of Anacortes--the directionally challenged of the world thank you!
Ok, but where is Starbucks?

I was thinking it would have been really cool to come across a bear, so I could blow my whistle and scare it off. That would have really made this story amazing, right? (In Cheryl Strayed's book, Wild, she wards of a charging bull with nothing but a whistle! That's a great book, btw) Oh well; at least I have a whistle, and I feel more secure knowing from now on I will be always be prepared. Lesson #27...embrace the ability to learn not only from your own trial and errors, but from other's as well. This can give some meaning and purpose to other's tragedies, and that's a good thing.
Jump! (as long as you KNOW this is the right place :))

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