The Scariest Hike of My Life (So Far):
Last summer, Dylan and I did a day hike up a dense forested mountain deep in the Olympia Peninsula. It was a quiet place to be at that time of the year, so the traffic level was low.
We had known going into it that there was snowfall at the top, but a few passerby’s told us it was no big deal and that you definitely didn’t need any special gear (that we didn’t own anyway!) So, onward and upward. .
At some point, we hit the clouds. In the northwest, the clouds hang super low and sit within the trees high up on hills and mountains. We had seen it from afar, but this was the first time we were ever immersed in the fog. The sights were amazing. The coolest part of it all was that it was totally silent. No birds, wind, planes, footsteps of others... nothing. You could hear your ears ring and your labored breath. We were in awe. It was also at this point that we lost the trail under the snow.
We hesitated; with no trail markers, you are left to your own devices, but we decided to try to follow footsteps of other hikers. We came to a large clearing in which the footsteps branched out in different directions into various openings of the forest. After wandering around for a few minutes, we decided that it was too risky, and it was getting late. So we decided to turn around and head back, which was the scariest part. .
Amidst all of the footsteps, we lost our own. It all might have happened within a few minutes, but so many things ran through my mind within that time. We backtracked some other footsteps, but it just didn’t feel right. For a moment, we were actually lost. I remember playing out in my mind how we would go about trying to sleep for the night if we couldn’t find our way back before dark.
Eventually, one of us had a moment of clarity and recognized some combinations of trees and/or fallen logs. We high tailed it out of there, feeling a breath of relief and waiting a few moments before sharing with each other how momentarily terrifying that was. The hike back to the car took a fraction of time compared to the hike up.