Saturday, August 6, 2016

An Ode to Ira

I consider myself a big fan of Ira Spring...even if I thought he was a woman for years. The book I read that he co-authored with Harvey Manning had random pictures of a woman hiker; so it seemed logical. I didn't confess this to Mimi when she looked up to the threatening sky at the start of our hike and apologized to Ira for thinking he was a woman, and to please not punish us with a downpour. I did think to myself though, "you too?"

Of course, Mimi was being funny, because I'm sure Ira was not the type who would have minded being mistaken for a woman. What an awesome guy!! A Washingtonian who grew up in Shelton, his name is on 64 guidebooks (all royalties are donated to the "Family Trust for Trails") his photography has graced Time, Life, and National Geographic, and he co-founded the Washington Trails Association; so it's with good reason he has his very own trail.

I am the Vanna White of fungus!

But, I have to confess I didn't actually pick the Ira Spring Trail to honor this well lived life of his. I picked it because I had to do a drop off at Sea-Tac why not make the most of the trip and head to the nearest trail! I don't often do hikes in close proximity to Seattle because of the crowds, but it was a drizzly Thursday, so I thought I'd take my chances.
A glimpse of I-90
I have a thing for stone steps
I was so happy Mimi was willing to give me another chance after our last adventure together. (see "First Backpack of 2016" post) I felt like I had failed her with poor trip planning by pushing her too hard with a 14 mile hike on her first time back on the trail in years. I really wanted to make it up to her by choosing something with reasonable mileage...and without a blow down at every mile.(early season hikes can be such a mess!) And the Ira Spring Trail even has a fully functional bridge, so we were set. (I hope trail crews get around to Baker Lake trail soon, because that bridge at Anderson Creek is sketchy!)
Now, this is what I call a bridge!

When we were a little over half way up, with thighs and glutes a blazin', we started jokingly cursing under our breath..."Why you gotta be so mean, Ira?" ;) But I believe Mr. Spring's favor was actually upon us. We may have originally wanted a nice sunny day--but the foggy, misty weather was a real blessing in disguise. Besides keeping the crowds at bay, the clouds kept us from overheating on the last push up. When reading the trail description, I was fantasizing about basking on the "sun drenched" ridge-line, but in actuality those exposed switchbacks (which I'll confess were harder than I expected...sorry Mimi!) would have felt like an oven without some cloud cover. And truth be told, as much as I love the cheery feeling a clear day gives me, I think the mystical quality of the quiet fog is possibly more beautiful.

Just when we were starting to believe Ira was truly out to punish us with a never ending uphill climb, we crested the top and excitedly started the quarter mile drop down to Mason Lake. Although we were tempted to plop down at the first campsite we came to, we both agreed it was worth pushing on to find a more secluded spot. We were so thankful we did, because towards dusk a large group of guys came in, and the spot we left was a perfect fit for them. I know I have complained in the past about having a boisterous gang coming in and screwing up my serenity, but this time I honestly loved hearing their laughter throughout the night. It felt comforting; like I just fell asleep on someone's couch during a great party. ;)

We found a Pokemon! Gotta catch em' all!
One of the party goers, though, had suffered a tough night for being a newbie hiker. Mimi told me she was near the group as they were heading out, and the bedraggled straggler looked up at her and bemoaned, "I didn't think to bring a jacket...oh no...but I brought a chair!!" A tough lesson in packing priorities, indeed.
Chillin' with my "coffee"

A brave swimmer (the small dot in the middle)
The fog never lifted as promised by forecasters (I think we both were hoping for a dip in the lake; the water felt much warmer than I expected!) but it was all good. Even without the sun, the parking lot was overflowing when we made it down; so I would really warn everyone to stay away on a sunny weekend, because I can't even imagine what that looks like. We only had one more thing to check off our list to complete our adventure; find a burger and beer ASAP! We were lucky enough to find the Rogue Ales & Spirits Brewhouse in Issaquah, which I highly recommend. Just be sure to make a toast to Ira for us! 
Thanks for a great trail, Ira!! Cheers!


  1. This is great, Kelly!! What a fun adventure this was. Anxious for the next! 😉