Insanity, Death & Other Trails

2 Jun

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The Pacific NW is packed full with ridiculous amounts of rambling trails cutting in and out of it’s natural habitats. 

…The feel is very rainforest meets old south, on account of the humidity factor, being always right on the ocean or near to a lake, and the obvious rainfall factor. 

Unlike the California trails we wandered when I was a kid, one can’t just pick a spot in the forest and “go,” unless one had a machete, knee-high boots, and a pair of welder gloves on, to help battle the sick mess of berry bushes, wild thorns, giant ferns, and vine-eaten, moss-dripping, decaying old trees, so cramming the forest under-canopy that you can’t get a foot hold in edgewise.

…And the people here like it that way. 

At some point, some brave bastard will pick a spot, forge a trail, and get the word out enough times that the footpath will be partially upkept by other hikers. And so our forests on any mountain drive, can be seen to have trail heads poking out in any number of random locations, which you take in good faith, and often interlink at some point with other forged paths, like a network of snail trails in a garden.

The Pac NW-ers are very big on these.

It’s pretty here, always green, and the canopies help umbrella the rain…because of course we don’t stop for that, otherwise we’d never see daylight, again.

We also have cultivated gardens as well. Quite a lot of them.  Because (again), it’s pretty here and always green.  So why not?

…Funny thing is that even the cultivated gardens seem like something out of a gothic novel, as even the old large estates keep to the el naturale effect.

Wild natural gardens with indigenous ground covers, mosses and vines are meticulously manicured so that even the larger pay-to-play mansion and state-park run formal gardens, look like they grew the houses out of their root structures as part of the budding of their plants. Which is eerie and awesome and reminds me of so many of the Irish ruin walks and Manor estate gardens we wandered through back in 2007. 

…Which is all to say: “I like it here.”

There is a history sense of reclaiming of nature pretty much everywhere you go. We haven’t become so built up that you can’t get away from it all within a ten minute drive in any direction, and there are places you can go and feel off the grid, and your phone doesn’t bing with text and phone alerts, and the music doesn’t thump from out of car windows, and the smell of “green” (you’d know it if you smelled it) is so strong, you just wanna wrap up and take a nap in it.

…So, naturally, I take a lot of walks.

…And yesterday was National Trail Day.

…So Ma and I took several.

The first: one of those Mansions that seems to be grown out of the ground along with everything else sprouting up. Lakewold Gardens, sporting both the boxed-hedge chic of patio gardens, as well as the wild trail-networking rock garden further toward the lake.  They were setting up for a wedding while we were there…and I’d have to say, it’s a hell of a backdrop for one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…And from there, we motored to Fort Steilacoom where the old Asylum and Cemetery are surrounded by giant dog and people parks, and trails cutting back into the hill.  Phone juice had died, so no pics, which is a shame because the trails remind you of corn mazes, so buried you become by solid walls of knotted berry bushes and undergrowth, that you can often only see the next turn.  The entire hill is networked with trails branching off of and into others, so that by the time you make the top-most clearing you can see dozens of them directing in every which way, leading downward to the lake.

The lake, now named for Dr. Waughop, had the most amazing mass-cluster of water lilies I’ve ever seen (live or otherwise) and it’s walk eventually leads back to the old barns and cemetery.  The graves, mostly dating from the mid 1800’s to 1950’s, are each number-plated on a mass-grave map posted by the parks department, and only when walking on the land itself, can you see the sunken headstones of new marble, which are part of the restoration and archiving of the people who once resided just up the hill, in the now ruins of the old Insane Asylum. 

Like all old cemeteries, it was totally fascinating to walk…not only for the history and sheer mass number of those buried there, but the fact that it is the only plot of land, in all of that acreage, almost entirely grown over with a blanket of old moss in lieu of actual grass, and even where the stone markers have not yet been replaced, you can tell where each body is interred because of the distinct sink of ground, and the shoots of wildflowers and grass blades rising from them, fed, like living memorials, from those buried just beneath.

…Was a good day, friends.

And now I’m off to see what I can make of this one 🙂

~D

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One Response to “Insanity, Death & Other Trails”

  1. prewitt1970 June 2, 2013 at 4:14 pm #

    Being from the PNW I’d say you captured it rather well.
    B.

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