2012-12-29 47 -122
Trees just off Route 18 in Maple Valley
 Plans as originally posted to alert other hashers
After a day of trail work a few miles from here, I'll get dropped off near here around 3:something pm, hopefully 3:early. Will try to gain access through the property to the south first, but if no one's home or they don't want to give me permission I'll head west and then walk back up along the side of 18. We'll see. Then an hour walk to the bus, and back home.
So on Friday afternoon I notice that Saturday's geohash point is coincidentally a few miles from where I'm going to be working on hiking-trail maintenance from about 8:30am-3pm with the WTA, in a part of 47,-122 I rarely visit, only an hour's walk (6 km) from a regular bus back to civilization. Immediately I become obsessed with the idea of taking advantage of this rare opportunity. In addition, this could potentially avenge my sad defeat in my sole previous work-party epilogue geohash attempt.
However, getting to the point is not going to be as simple on paper as it was that time. First and foremost, I don't have access to a car anymore, and am carpooling from Seattle to the worksite with "Jim," a complete stranger with whom I just exchanged emails through their carpool system. So how can I cover those last few miles to the point...
- Walk? No, it'll be dark before I even get near the point, and total worksite->hash->bus stop walking will be massive.
- Bike? I'd have to ask Jim if he could try to fit my bike in his car. Seems a bit much. (Turned out he was an awesome guy my age and probably would have done it, but I had no idea at that point)
- Another bus? No, on weekends there's no bus service anywhere near the worksite
- Get a ride with Jim? No, the hash is located further beyond (SE of) the worksite, so it'll be totally out of his way
- Get a ride with someone else? OK, I guess I could ask around at the worksite and see if anyone's heading home that way. People do live out there...
So this is my rather unreliable plan, until an hour later I unexpectedly shout "Eureka!!" and explode out of my desk chair. (No, I didn't actually do any of that, but I wish!) I've realized the obvious... the same WTA carpooling system that set me up with Jim can turn my plan rock-solid! Keys clatter and I quickly bring up the list... and sure enough, "Haylee" is offering a ride to/from North Bend, definitely "out there"! I dash off an email, and within two hours I have my reply. This is gonna work! Yeah suckers!
Except for two things. First, what in the heck am I going to tell Haylee if she asks whose place this is I'm going to? I could just say a friend or a cousin. But what if she tries to make talk and ask about them... I guess I just have to signal throughout the conversation that I'm not into talking about the nature of my destination, and hope she gets the message. I could take a gamble and own up that it's all just for this bizarre hobby, especially if at the work party she turns out to be cool. But she's going a bit out of her way to drop me off (just a mile or so, but still), so that could be awkward. Hm.
And also, the other reason getting there will be more complicated than last time: the point is in a tricky spot, a narrow, conifer-lined strip of land between private properties and a freeway. If I had a car this would be relatively straightforward, I'd just pull off the highway, get out and walk the dozen meters. But on foot after Haylee drops me off on the side street? I guess I either have to ask property owner(s) for permission to cross their land, or else try to bushwack around the far end of the development and walk back next to (but hopefully not on) the shoulder of the highway. Either option could be time-consuming, so much of the long walk to the bus might be in total darkness. Down country roads. Especially if the work party goes late.
Nervous with anticipation, I pack my standard trail-work gear minus the change of clothes, my standard geohashing gear, and a headlamp, and largely fail to sleep.
Everything goes smoothly in the morning... Jim appears as planned, and drives us to the work site. All right, 90% of the way there! Plus, it turns out "Henry", a longtime trailwork acquaintance who I understand is actually *from* Maple Valley or nearby, is there too. No sign of Haylee (it's early), so I ask Henry about a ride -- turns out he lives just 5 minutes from the proposed dropoff, and is happy to take me and spare Haylee the detour! That works. And he is not inquisitive at all about why I'm going there. Perfect. As the day's muddy, drizzly, gratifying manual labor proceeds, it becomes clear that Haylee is not going to show up, and that I got quite lucky. (At home after the hash, I found several emails from a thoroughly lost Haylee who eventually gave up on finding the worksite. Aw.)
The work party ends vaguely on time, and by about 3:30 Henry and I are heading southeast in his vehicle. I keep the conversation on topics other than what's at my destination, and sure enough he never brings it up! Just kindly drops me off in an obscure subdivision at 208th Ave SE & 248th St, does a U and vanishes up the hill. Yes!! I start striding west on 248th towards the target longitude. At the intersection suggested by the google map, there are two possible properties: one with a huge, new-looking white fence, three dogs doing their job very well, and multiple no trespassing signs... and one with no fencing, no signs, no dogs, junked cars all over the place and a couple run down looking buildings. The latter, obviously. I wait for the gps to lock (it's taking uncharacteristically long) but once it confirms my longitude I put it away and stroll up to their front door, my coat and jeans covered in mud and dirt from the work party.
I knock, and fairly quickly a man answers that he'll be out soon. A minute or so later he opens the door holding some huge power tool, and looking hard at work. I explain that I'm not asking for money or anything, and tell him my situation. He actually seems to consider the idea, but tells me there's a tall chain link fence separating his property from the freeway land, so it won't work. I ask if going around the west end of the subdivision might work, but he says still probably not, the fence goes all the way there and beyond. This isn't sounding good. I gamble and ask if I can go to the fence anyway to check if the point is actually on his side, but he politely doesn't want to permit me. That's OK, I say, and I take my leave. I still want to try the western approach and see this infinitely wide, scarily tall fence myself.
After passing the last property on the street, I bushwack a very short distance to the fence to find a huge rip in the bottom of it, staring me in the face! Looks like it was deliberately cut, too. I stoop down and squeeze my way through. Now I just have to traverse a hundred yards or so northeast up this wooded strip along the freeway. Apparently, the freeway is rising up on a berm here while the ground to the south remains flat, so that much of the wood is growing on a short, steep slope that gets taller and taller. But fortunately there's a 3m-wide flat part on top, between the wooden freeway guardrail and the edge of the berm. This is actually a really convenient way to walk alongside of a freeway. In a minute I'm at the hash latitude, and I carefully descend/bushwack east toward the hash longitude. I have to go all the way down to the bottom to reach it, but finally I'm within the 15ft (~5m) GPS error! And still definitely on the freeway/public side of the fence, and it's not even that swampy despite the low point. Success!! The only sad bit is that I can't get the coordinates to exactly match because the gps refuses to update, presumably due to the earthen berm and the big trees and all. I feel your pain now, Haberdasher and Geoff. But circle of error is circle of error, and I climb back up the side of the berm.
And it is on that short climb that I notice my very first ever geotrash: an empty old plastic bottle of Kraft mayo. Into my backpack it goes - and then I think: well of course, I'm by the side of a freeway! Sure enough, on the walk back along the guardrail I notice many, many geotrashes, way too many for me to collect. I figure a local civic group or the highway department cleans this up on a regular basis anyway, so I leave them be. Until I see the bent-up Washington license plate, lying there. Gotta take that. Maybe it was from a wreck.
Anyhow, the walk to the bus stop goes smoothly - no collisions, start time 4:07, end time 5:08 and still not completely dark, though not exactly light either. And I pass a horse wearing clothes. Very tiring on the shoulders though. Three convenient buses later and I'm home with leftover chicken gumbo, warm bread and cold beer.
I have no idea why I do this.
(Note: all names here are pseudonyms, for privacy)
| OtherJack earned the GeoTrash Geohash Achievement
| OtherJack earned the Ultimate Mooch Ribbon