On a dark Thanksgiving morning, my cousins and I, each of us a non-native Pacific Northwesterner, drove the 45 minutes to Mt. Si, ready to climb the mountain I had hiked as a child with my family while visiting Washington State. As we pulled up to the trailhead parking lot at Mt. Si, I realized that our great idea to climb the mountain on Thanksgiving wasn’t an original one. There were many cars already in the parking lot by the time we arrived at11 am. I smiled when I saw the Mountains to Sound Greenway sign. Still a new intern at the Greenway office, I can sometimes overlook how much work it takes from both the office and on the ground to make the Greenway possible. It’s impressive.
As we started up the trail, we passed many other hikers on their way down. As we passed each other, we exchanged greetings of Thanksgiving and talked about the weather up ahead. These exchanges were more then your usual head nod on the trail, especially nice to experience on Thanksgiving Day. One hiker on her way down noticed my cousin not wearing gloves and, after telling us about the cold higher up, gave her the pair of gloves she was wearing. It was such a kind gesture, Thanksgiving or not.
As we gained elevation mile by mile, I was constantly taking pictures as the trail became more visually amazing switch back after switch back. At the bottom of the trail, the lush foliage and moss glowed bright green adding a sense of enchantment to the forest floor. Farther up, the plants thinned out revealing tall trees alternating with golden streams of light shining through to the mountain side. Then at the 3-mile point, we started seeing snow- first small patches and soon each tree branch was weighted down with a soft, thick covering. From under the snowy tree line, we paused to enjoy this beautiful sight. When we reached the last half mile, the wind swept through the trees reminding us of the harsh realities that winter can bring. We left these thoughts aside as we were excited to make it to the top, but soon retreated back below the trees after a few photos and celebratory drinks from our water bottles.
As tired as we were, and having only consumed a light breakfast and a few granola bars, we managed to get back to Seattle and make Thanksgiving dinner. We ate like kings that night, enjoying a well-deserved feast after a tenuous and wondrous hike up Mt. Si. I expected to feel some sort of full circle moment- having hiked up Mt. Si as a child but instead, I felt a sense of a new beginning, a new Thanksgiving tradition forged amongst cousins- each one of us from out-of-state and away from the comforts of our immediate loved ones. By hiking Mt. Si on Thanksgiving, we were forging our own Thanksgiving traditions here in the Pacific Northwest. As cliché as it is, Thanksgiving is all about being with family no matter where home is. I just hope next year, home is still close to mountains.