Day 14: Newcastle

I woke up today (my last full day in Seattle!) before any of my friends, so I took Tako on a short early-morning hike along the Coal Creek Trail.

I guess I’ve forgotten to mention until now that my friends live in a neighborhood that has a view of Mt. Rainier. They didn’t warn me the first night we went sightseeing together; they just told me to turn south out of their drive instead of north and said to “watch for it.”

A few seconds later, we turned a corner, and I saw this:

Mt Rainier

So that was the view we got to enjoy on our way to Coal Creek this morning.

Signs had been posted at the trailhead about a possible cougar sighting in the area, along with an interestingly-worded sign about bears.

Cougar Sighting

When I got back today and mentioned where I’d been, my friends were a little freaked out. They’d heard about the possible cougar sighting, and the attack a few months ago was still pretty fresh for them.

I don’t know a lot about cougars/mountain lions/pumas. I’ve never seen one even though they’re pretty common in California. From what I remember from Girl Scouts — on a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is it that I still rely on knowledge I learned when I was nine? I’m fine, you guys. I swear. — they usually avoid humans.

To be honest, I did pause at the sign to stare at it for a moment — though mostly for the note implying what a riot of fun bears are — and a trail runner passed us. I thought, “If she’s not scared, why should I be?” (Which is admittedly naïve. Maybe she’s a secret ninja. Maybe she fights cougars on weekends for fun. I don’t know her life.)

If I got scared and turned back every time a sign warned of a possible predator sighting, I’d never hike at all. Full disclosure: If I saw a sign saying “possible grizzly sighting,” I probably would turn back. Putting that out there now.

We had the whole trail to ourselves for about an hour before we saw another person. The waterfall is only a few minutes away from the end of the trail we entered (near Red Town), and it’s more active when it’s been raining.

Along the way, we met a darling pitbull named Layla, with whom Tako fell in love. For once in Tako’s life, the feeling was mutual. It was a good morning for both of us.

I also learned that Tako is weirdly terrified of wooden bridges. We’re working on that.

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I was planning to meet up with a friend in the afternoon who’s been traveling the week I’ve been here, but she had something come up. Instead, Tako and I went on another hike on the other side of the Newcastle area.

We had a few surprises on the trail:

The remains of a van…

Trail Surprises

…several cairns…

Waterline Trail

…and the creek!

May Creek Selfie

Finally. Interesting little tidbit: the May Creek Trail doesn’t technically intersect with the creek, so I had to wander down a few side trails before I found one that goes down to the bottom of the gorge.*

Trail surprises are the best surprises…but I’m really wondering about that van. I feel like there has to be a story there. These trails are too manicured for a rusty old van to be left behind without a reason. Plus, they put up a fence in front of it.

When I got back to the house, Ashwini met me with food that she made “just in case” I might be hungry! How amazing is that?! So we watched an episode of The Office with delicious borugulu.

Greeted With Food and The Office

For our last night together, Sumit, Ashwini & I had a mini pizza party, just the three of us. And then Sumit found out he had to give a presentation first thing on Monday morning, so we were very grateful we hadn’t yet moved on to cocktails.

 

High

Everything. Just a really good day.

 

Low

Missing Julie in Seattle is a low, but I can see her in San Francisco.

 

Breakdown

Driven: 2121mi

Hiked: 35mi

Written: 3k

Listening to: “Reunion” M83

 

*According to other websites, the main trail usually does cross the creek, so maybe the water level isn’t high enough right now.


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