Not all that bad at the top.
Yes, I did get lucky that day. What did I say it was? September 18? Right. After tourist season, after bug season, long after the summer heat, but before the winter rains. Not bad at all.
This short trip has been described as "a comfortable day hike of 8 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2,300 feet and an overall grade of 12%." It's that 12% that can bite you. It doesn't give up.
I did see Half-Way Rock on the way up. It was still there on the way down. I don't think it gets out much, but so many rocks are like that, and I didn't have time to stop and give it a pep talk. It could be depressed. You never know with rocks. I've never met a rock that didn't look like it could use at least a little therapy.
Sure the views are amazing. All views are amazing, when you consider the likelihood that you're there at all to see them, and think about the probability of a different egg or sperm getting together, rather than the ones that made you, and all the rest.
Then there's the evolution of the eye, and color vision, and business about grade school and high school and whatever else you had to get through just so you could become an adult and go wherever the hell you wanted to. And we're not done yet.
If you have a job, and/or a life, you have to figure out how to get away from it, and if you don't live right on top of Port Angeles, WA, then you have to get there, which isn't all that easy in itself, because whoever set up that city did a good job of putting it into an awkward and distant place, for most of us.
You know? And then there's the trail. Twelve percent, which is twelve times more than one percent, which is still enough to feel if you're going toward the uphill end of it, and there isn't much of anything to see until you are almost at the top anyway. Trees. That's about all. Just trees, and then, once you've gotten over that, more trees, all the way up.
No doubt, though, Heather Park itself is choice, especially because it has that nice little stream bubbling and bouncing along goofily, which makes that particular spot a great place to halt any remaining forward progress you may be making and sit down for lunch.
And after that – well, you never know. Things go back to being on the steep side of the fence, and you go back to panting, but the scenery opens up too.
And, well, you do never know. The top, the very top, is open. There is no place to hide, and you may want to hide – from the sun, from the wind, from that sudden feeling of being exposed, or, as happened the last day I was there, from aggressive clouds.
But if I've learned even one thing from life, it's that you never know nothin. Really. Ultimately, as John Cleese said, we're all six feet under, and until you get to that point, you never really know the least little bit about what is going to happen next, or why, or how it will work out.
Which makes me glad that I took my camera, because the clouds turned out to be friendly and playful, and posed for a whole fat bunch of portraits. Just for me. Not bad.
Heather Park (Washington Trails Association)
Heather Park (Trail Wiki)