I gazed at the rapidly moving creek bisecting the hiking trail. Walking through it was out of the question: I'd be swept off my feet for sure. There was a log I could crawl across, but it was wet from the steadily falling rain and hovered only inches above the water. I could probably make it, but then again, nobody knew where I was. I decided to retreat.
Feeling like a wimp, I grumpily drove away, trying to think of a way to salvage the day. One trail was too far away, another one too long to start this late in the day. Then I remembered the Boat Trail.
That's not the real name of the trail. It has a name, and there is a sign at the trailhead, but I have yet to see it listed in a guidebook. Locals go there, yet I've never run into anyone else.
I parked at the pullout along the road. The trail passes uncomfortably close to a house; in fact you are basically in someone's yard. Once you scuttle past their wind chimes, you start a short, very steep climb through huckleberry bushes. Soon you emerge at a small, quiet lake.
I skirted around the lake, looking for its best feature. And there it was:
Years ago someone hauled an old aluminum boat up to the lake. The last registration stickers on it are over 10 years old. Somebody made some wooden oars to go with it.
I pushed the boat into the water and got in. It listed to the port side in a slightly alarming fashion. There was no way to attach the oars, so I used one in an awkward canoeing motion. But it floated. I listened to the sounds of the water and the wind in the trees and watched rain clouds fall over the mountains. A curious deer came to the shore and looked at me.
After awhile I returned the boat to the shore for the next person and retraced my steps back to the car. It hadn't turned out to be the day I had planned, but maybe it was even better.