That's just how you roll Matt, was all she could say.
I arrive at the end of I-90 bike path in Issaquah at 7am after pedaling east for two hours in the icy darkness of the Seattle winter solstice. The temperatures dropped steadily into the high 20's as I climbed out of the layer of marine fog that enveloped the city, across Lake Washington and through the urbanized foothills of Bellevue towards the Cascade Mountains. Previous FDA's had brought me this far before and while certainly not lost, I really don't know how to get to where I want to go next.
My Dad Jim always says it is better to be lucky than good, and I am certainly more the former than the latter. As I pull over into the IHOP parking lot to check my map and regroup, I nearly run into a cyclist that I quickly size up as member of the Seattle Ranonneurs Bicycle Club. I wipe the frozen snot from my face and politely ask to be pointed in the right direction of the Issaquah-Preston Trail. Despite having just completed the 200 km Solstice Ride, Bill gladly went out of his way to guide me to the trailhead on his way home. Bicycle culture is rich with people willing to pay the kindness forward and assist other two-wheel travelers.
Pavement soon gives way to a dirt path and frozen mud puddles as I pedal into a rising sun that burns through the tall evergreens throwing off a haze of vapor into the cold blue sky of a perfect winter morning. Moments like these make all the work worth-while and reminds me that reward often only comes with great effort. The Issaquah-Preston Trail connects to the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail and I soon find myself climbing steeply around Lake Alice into a strong headwind blowing out of the Southeast. I pick up the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, put my head down and push into the shadow of Mount Si. A little to my surprise I arrive at the trailhead right on schedule at 10 am.
I pull the final feet to the summit smearing my feet on the icy rock as the steep west face of Si falls a thousands of feet under me to the Snoqualmie River Valley. I sit at the summit for a couple minutes and take it all in. Mount Rainier dominates to the south, the Olympics fill skyline 100 miles to the west, the skyscrapers of the Seattle are still barely visible through the winter haze as the sun hangs low in the southern sky. This isn't this first time I have stood on the top of Mount Si and likely won't be the last, but this one gets etched a little deeper in my brain. Maybe it's the blue in the sky or the bite in the air. Maybe it's the sting in my frozen fingers or the deep ache of fatigue settling in my legs. Or maybe it's because this way of doing things feels pure, clean and sustainable.
The truth is it's all of these that make this moment special. I won't say it's the easiest or quickest way of getting to top of something, but I certainly find it to be the richest. Like my wife says it's just how I like to roll, and it brings me a deep sense of joy and satisfaction.
The breeze picks up and I am snapped back to reality as the sweat on my body chills, running a shiver up my spine. Halfway there I remind myself as I throw my pack over my shoulders and set off retracing my steps back home to my Front Door.
That's how I roll,