Lies guidebooks tell about hiking: “flat” is a relative term

I looked at my daughter the other day and said, “It’s supposed to be a beautiful weekend. Can you think of an easy, flat hike we could do?”

She has mapped out just about every hiking trail within our state, and even keeps detailed lists and hand drawn maps of the trails she hopes to hike.

After some thought and searching this hike was suggested. Tipsoo Lake and the Naches Peak Loop noted at three miles in length didn’t seem too bad especially with this description:

“The route is relatively flat–it rolls up and down but has no ridiculously steep sections and only a few real climbs.”

This picture depicts a tranquil mountain meadow, Mt. Rainier in the distance.

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There were three of these mountain meadows. It took us twenty minutes tops to trek through these areas. The rest of the two-hour and forty minute hike, although not steep as we were assured, was not easy, nor flat. If we weren’t going up, then we were going down. On occasion we were in moderately heavy forest. On occasion we walked, (I crept in terror) along sheer cliff edges. It also wasn’t easy starting at 5200 and gaining just over 600 feet in elevation. If I hadn’t lost thirty pounds in the last nine months there is no way I could have made it on this hike. I was having enough trouble breathing in a few places to literally have to sit and rest. Some of that may have been anxiety as well. Coming around corners to see the mountain you’re on drop away below you can take your breath away at the very least.

The weather was great though, cool initially at 9 AM, but it didn’t take long for both of us to shed our layers and be down to t-shirts. Reaching the half-way point was exhilarating. It meant that we would be trekking downhill mostly from that point, and it was time for a snack break. We met a few groups on the trail and also ran across one prohibited dog, and masses of fresh horse poo, from the other animal also prohibited on the trail system.

I did take a few pictures, but they aren’t anything great, just a few shots of the meadows so I’m not going to post them.

The guides noted this hike usually takes about three hours. It felt like we were on that trail for three days, but I am proud to say that when we got back to the car, even with my rest stops, a quick snack, and my moments of terror and refusal to move while I contemplated going back the way we had come, we made it at exactly the three-hour mark.

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