Solotrip: Rockport, Washington
Disclaimer: This post is mostly filled with photos of luscious forest and a freakishly adorable dog.
My third solotrip of the year took me to the North Cascades. On the hunt for snow and with last minute planning, I found myself spending the night in a single wide trailer in Rockport, Washington.
It was Denali’s turn to go with me on this solotrip so he rode along with me to a little town along Highway 20. Only a few hours drive from Seattle we left mid morning and arrived while he sun was at its peak. I had found a single wide trailer on Air BNB the day before. The hostess greeted us and pointed out a looping trail just behind the home. We dropped our stuff and went out to catch some of the afternoon sun.
The trail follows the Skagit River through some of the drippiest forest I had ever seen. So many different types of mosses and ferns grow on and around each other.
The power of the river was intense from recent storms. I was lucky to have such sunny weather. I kept getting entranced by the way the light shined through the mosses and foliage. The trees glowed along their perimeters.
The sun sets around 4:30 this time of year so there isn’t much time to spend outside. We got back to the trailer just before sunset, as the temperature began to drop quickly.
I’ve been asked how exactly I spend my time on my solotrips since I don’t work or check social media. The simplest answer is that I don’t really do much of anything. When I’m out in nature I’m never bored. I always bring a yoga mat and my journal, sometimes I bring a book. This time, I brought a book to read and a book to color. I spent the evening hours preparing a simple meal, stretching slowly and mindfully, jotting initial thoughts and coloring.
At one point in the evening I became pretty paranoid. I suddenly realized that I was alone in a trailer, with a dog that is too gentle to protect me from anything, without cell service but with a weak wifi signal, in a town where I know nobody. What if something went wrong?? I decided to check in with JP to let him know I was alright and for a sense of comfort in knowing that if I were to suddenly disappear he’d know rather quickly. Of course I realized this paranoia was more extreme than necessary so it was a reminder of why I’m doing these trips.
I’ve been in a relationship with a protective man and his two dogs for almost 5 years. Though I’m an independent spirit, I’ve been physically close to a companion regularly for a considerable amount of time. My solotrips are for quiet reflection but they’re also to show myself that I can go do things alone and be alright. I love community and relationships but I also know that I need to cultivate a relationship with myself. I need to be able to rely on me and have the confidence that I can do things alone without fear. I don’t want to feel vulnerable just because I’m alone.
Part of the key to happiness for me in my life is knowing that I am an independent person. I am committed to trying new things regularly and sometimes that means trying things on my own. I cannot always wait for someone to match my interests and want to join me in exploring the world and its offerings. I don’t want to feel like I have to miss out on opportunities to do things because I haven’t given myself the permission to do things alone. These solotrips are practice. I’m exposed to the fears of trying something without company and pushing through until its completed.
We woke up the next morning to a frosty world but what a beautiful one. Denali got to chase some chickens that were feeding by the owner’s house. I then got to chase Denali as quietly as I could so I wouldn’t wake the whole neighborhood.
I wanted to find a hike that would lead us to some snow. All the trails along Highway 20 were sounding a bit rough or inaccessible. So, we packed our things and headed south to the entrance of the mountains just outside Granite Falls.
The drive through the foothills was breathtaking. As I left Rockport, I took a road that winded through drippy, mossy forest. I wanted to get a photo so I pulled over at the next turnout. It wasn’t the right angle or even the best part of the road but I wasn’t disappointed by my decision to get out. As I turned to go back to my car, I watched a bald eagle fly eye level through the trees just on the other side of my car. The timing was impeccable. I knew then, of course, that I hadn’t gotten out to get the photo (see below) but to share the moment with the eagle. It felt like we made eye contact as he cruised right by. It was unreal and a moment I’ll never forget.
Using comments left on wta.org, I opted for the Lake Twentytwo hike just a couple of miles into the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. I’ve since learned that this is quite the famous hike. I now know why. Not only is it very accessible, only about 75 minutes from Seattle, but it’s absolutely stunning. The 5.4 mile loop takes you through lush forest with waterfalls throughout, up to the mountain top where a lake sits. I cannot describe the beauty enough so hopefully my photos give you a good sense of how magical this part of the world is.
About two-thirds of the way up you leave the dense forest and climb a single switchback through a rock field and it opens up to this spectacular view.
Denali grew up in the snowy mountains of Colorado. He was just as excited to see the snow as I was! We earned it too. The trail was steep almost the whole way but it was well worth it.
The forests of the Pacific Northwest are rich with biodiversity. There’s so much to look at all around it almost feels like diving on a reef. From a distance it’s mesmerizing but when you go up close you begin to see the way the different species thrive from each other. I took my mindfulness practice to a moss covered tree. I paused for a moment mid descent to notice how my senses were being excited or calmed. Doing the whole hike is an accomplishment but I’m glad I didn’t miss the opportunity to slow down and really inspect just one tiny portion of one very complex ecosystem.
I had to snap a shot of me with my girl in this perfect Subaru scene. I’ve loved my car since the day I got her in 2009 but I’m falling more deeply with each road trip we take together. What I love is that in Seattle it’s easy to feel like you’ve escaped to some far away world but it’s really just within our reach of the city. You don’t need to set aside a week to feel like you’ve “gotten away”, a day trip is totally possible and entirely encouraged.
Since this solotrip, I’ve made it to the mountains every weekend. I’m absolutely hooked on the Cascades. Let me know if you have any trails to recommend!