I was half awake at 2am in our camp at Susan Jane Lake aside a retreating bolder covered mountainside that towered a thousand feet above us. Two leaves brushed along the tent fly making semicircular sillouetes for me to stare at while my thoughts went round my head of the days ahead. Everything else in the valley was dead still. Suddenly out of that ocean of stillness came a rapidly approaching rumble.
We had walked out of town after two wonderfully relaxing days of sausage and cider with Jen’s parents in Leavenworth. It was time to get serious with some real hiking in this 70-mile section from Stevens Pass to Snoqualmie. We have to move now, we should be doing 20+ mile days every day till November to make it before the snow comes. My feet hurt just thinking about it.
The problem that day was we left late and weren’t far from civilisation when we decided to camp early due to post-zero day laziness, sore knees and a even sorer Washington apple filled head.
As listened to the rumble I wondered if it was truck shifting down gears on the highway we had crossed earlier and remembered living close to large avenues in Mexico City. But there was a whole mountain between us and the highway. Maybe it was a plane?
I started to slip off to sleep again and as I drifted off I heard the same sound again in the distance. This time it was deeper and louder. It came from the west with a dull but rapidly increasing rumble, then the sound got louder and closer, then sharper as rocks shifted on our valley’s walls.
The adrenaline started surging. We were having an earthquake. My body always reacts faster than my own realisation of what’s going on. After experiencing being in large quakes, your body takes over in future situations. Not much time for rational thought, just enjoy the rush and hope you’re in the right spot.
I heard bolders shift, crack and clack together close to us across the water and at the very same time the floor jolted up. My sleeping pad amplified the wave.
Then it was gone even faster than it came and again it was just me again in my rational thought but with my eyes wide, pressed against my pad and the feeling of four espressos inside.
We found out later that it was a 4.8 and close to the trail. It was the talk of the trail the next morning.
One thought on “A distant rumble”
Whoa! I thought this was going to be a post about thunder. We missed the quake because we were on vacation in Eastern Washington.
My brain went straight to thunder because I can remember waking to the dapple of rain on our tent at that very same lake. It was the last day of our trip and we had to be back for work and school and flights and reality by the next day. We were still 10 miles from the car and a 3 hour drive from the Seattle. We knew we had to hike that long exposed section of trail and didn’t want to be doing it in a storm and especially not in lightening. Ive never seen two teenagers move so fast at 5am. We were packed up and on the trail within an hour—a record time for our group with our packs full of way too much heavy gear. We made it safely along the trail to cover before the thunderstorm hit then decided to hike back to the car along the swampy, buggy Little Wenatchee River basin instead of the exposed ridge hike. We were a miserable, muddy mess on the ride home. We were out on the trail again a few weeks later.
To this day the exotic locales of Dishpan Gap and Meander Meadow and the peak above bright, bright Blue Lake are some of my best memories to visit. I hope someday you’ll be able to return to the area and explore all the side trails you’re missing!
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