From the department of good news/bad news, I am in my final quarter of airplane mechanic school. That’s good news because it means I will soon be able to join the ranks of money-earning people again, but it’s bad news, because, angry teenagers and inappropriate man-children aside, I’ll kinda miss the place.
The other bad news is that Man Child did not make it through last quarter, and so must repeat it. Sad for me, because there went the most entertaining part of my day. He is missed, but he does drop by our class from time to time to harass and trout.
Since I don’t have any great stories from this quarter (yet – someone still may ascend the Man Child throne), I’ll relate a tale of greenbelt exploration gone wrong – my Deliverance experience.
I had heard there are trails in the West Duwamish Greenbelt, which runs along the east side of my school. I like to take walks on break and thought it would be nice to venture past the Brutalist-era concrete environs of the campus. So, one day I changed into my rain boots and struck out, to the north of the campus. First stop, a lovely Chinese Garden. What a treat! I had a look at the garden, then descended a grassy path towards the greenbelt, which slopes sharply down eastward towards West Marginal Way. As I entered the greenbelt I could see that there were a few primitive trails, with unofficial signs pointing this way and that.
Believing that there was a way to traverse the length of the greenbelt from one end of campus to the other, I took the high trail. As I walked, the high trail quickly became the not-so-high trail, as it descended, I assumed, towards West Marginal Way. I knew that there was a trailhead at Marginal Way that connected with the south end of the campus, so I thought “ok, fine, I’ll go to the bottom of the hill and then pick up that other trail and hike up to the other end of campus.” In case I haven’t already mentioned it, the trail was … rough. It wasn’t a developed trail and as I descended it got muddier. I was really glad I had taken the time to change into rain boots, which sunk an alarming distance into the mud with every step.
After about 15 minutes I was at another intersection. I could hear Marginal Way down below, so I took the trail that seemed most likely to lead to it. But … it didn’t. All it did was provide a route to the narrowest point of a gully, where there was a log for getting across it, before the trail started ascending again. By this time I was about 30 minutes into my 45 minute break. I realized I wasn’t going to make it down to Marginal and that I should just stay on the ascending trail and hope that it would get me back to campus.
Ah, well, it didn’t do that. I hiked uphill for another 5 minutes or so, until I came to a homeless encampment. Whoops! It was hard to tell if anyone was … home, as the two tents were fully covered with tarps. I thought this was probably for the best, since I felt badly about stumbling onto someone’s camp and hoped to move on without being seen.
Trouble was … if I went back the way I came it was going to take me another 35 minutes to get back to class. I got out my phone and figured out my position relative to my classroom and set out in that direction. At this point I was bushwhacking because there was no trail. It was hard going. The ground was really soft, but that wasn’t the worst of it. The worst of it was the blackberries. For every two steps I took I would have to stop and disentangle myself from the thorns, or try to step over the mid-thigh high vines. Sometimes I would have to do both because my steps would prove to be inadequate to the task of getting over the brambles.
After what seemed like forever, I checked my watch. Five minutes had gone by. I looked back. I had barely put any distance between me and the homeless camp. I looked up. The steep slope of the greenbelt looked back. I think it smirked. Waaaaaay up at the top I could see open sky, and knew my classroom was just beyond the verge. But from where I was, it might has well have been on the other side of the Cascades. I was going to be so late!
But still, stubbornness prevailed and I kept going. It had to be better than retracing my steps, right? After another 5 or so minutes of struggle I saw it! The path! A very familiar looking path. With renewed vigor I giant-walked over the last of the blackberries and was reunited with sweet, sweet singletrack. It was the same path I had come down on, and fortunately I was only about 5 minutes from the top.
By this time I was soaked in sweat and dew. I stopped off at my car to change back into my regular shoes and tidy up as well as I could then sheepishly rejoined my class. I still want to go all the way to Marginal, one of these days.