Somehow, even though I've been hiking since I was 9, I have never been for more than a short walk in the woods on my own. Certainly nothing I'd consider a solo hike. Working as an artist, I frequently find myself not working during the summer. When I'm working and things are particularly stressful, I dream of the next time I'll be between contracts, free to hike whenever I want, but when the time comes, I'm full of reasons not to go. I once even made it as far as my car with a fully loaded pack and trail picked out, only to come up with some excuse and retreat to the comfort of my living room. I no longer remember where I planned to go, or how I talked myself out of it, but I frequently think back on that moment with disappointment.
Well, this past week, I finally made it out for a solo hike! True to form, I waffled on choosing a trail, but really the choice was obvious. If there is one trail in Washington that is my trail, it is Lake Serene. It was one of the first trails I hiked without my dad, that I planned myself. Since my first trip in 2002, I've been back so many times I've lost count, at least 10. I've taken nearly every person I've hiked with to Lake Serene. I practically have the trail memorized. If there was a trail I would feel safe hiking on my own, Lake Serene would be it.
Leaving the trailhead on a sunny Wednesday morning, I found my excitement fading fast. The first 1.7 miles of the trail are fairly easy, through featureless woods, and without the conversation of a friend to distract me, I felt a strong pull to turn around. I've been to Lake Serene so many times that I didn't feel particularly excited about getting to the lake. The trail was so familiar, that I kept setting small milestones for myself - first I would at least hike as far as the Bridal Veil Falls junction, then to the small side falls that mark the start of the steeper portion of the trail. Once I started seriously climbing, I was too focused on pressing on to think of turning around anymore. In the end, I made it to the lake in good time.
Since I've been to Lake Serene so many times, I didn't spend much time at the lake. After eating a quick lunch and snapping some photos, I turned around to head back to my car. The descent passed by surprisingly quickly. While I had some enjoyable moments, overall it was not my favorite hike. That said, I'm glad I finally made it out for a solo trip, and I definitely plan on trying it again on a new trail.