This appears to be the year I chose to meet some of my fears head-on. I joined a boot camp for weight loss, traveled to New York by myself, and I’ve committed to a gondola ride (ugh! heights!).
Tomorrow, I get to see how I do with achluophobia (fear of darkness) and claustrophobia. The Cascade mountain range cuts a north-south swath through the middle of Washington State. The John Wayne Pioneer Trail bisects that mountain range, running east to west, following what used to be a railroad grade. Trains ran along this stretch from 1909 to 1980, after which it became a hiking, cycling, and horseback riding trail.
The trail is 116 miles of path used widely by cyclists. The only other option is the main highway over Snoqualmie Pass. In 2009, the trail was cut in half when a tunnel through the moutain was deemed unsafe. It took two years and about $700,000, but they refurbished the tunnel. It opened again this past month, connecting western and eastern Washington State for those who prefer non-motorized methods of travel.
The tunnel is 2.1 miles long with no lights (except the proverbial light at the end of it). Now, I sleep without the lights on at night. But going through a damp, dark, drippy tunnel like this sounds pretty spooky to me. So I’ve gathered the troops to make the trek with me. With kids and grandkids, we’ll total 6-7 people. We were originally going to hike it, but now we’ve commandeered enough bikes to cycle it. It’ll be about 6 miles round trip. We’re packing a picnic lunch to enjoy somewhere along the way (hopefully not in the middle of the tunnel).
Tonight I’ll be testing and re-testing our headlamps. And packing some extra batteries, just in case. Wish me luck! I’ll try to add some pictures after we get back.
Addendum: we’re home from the ride and it was GREAT! Only a touch of claustrophobia and some disorientation, but overall a very cool thing to do. Our 8 year old grandaughter took the lead and set a stiff riding pace through the tunnel. Here’s a couple pictures:
posted by Laurie Ryan