A Dunk in the Swamp

Today was a beautiful May in Western Washington: Sunny with a spot of clouds, a nice breeze, and not too hot. Eddy and I decided it was simply an impossible day to spend indoors, so we decided to meander down to the Montlake area and explore the waterfront in front of UW and then go to the Washington Park Arboretum to check out the mixture of nature and human freeways intersecting.

For the most part, everything went well. We were getting good shots of the ghost ramps next to I-520, and got up close to some geese and their gosling. So when we encountered a trail along the waterfront that went back to campus, it was decided to go on this path and only took a sideways glance at the following sign, this would prove to be fateful:

The Ignored Sign
The Ignored Sign. I decided it was most likely incorrect, and they were probably just kidding.

We continue going along the pathway, and then came to a spot in the open water where most of the boardwalk was submerged, so we had to walk through a few inches of water to cross. Slightly concerning, but a minor complication. We then started noticing that in many places they were using layers of bark to provide a somewhat squishy pathway–an environmentally friendly choice to make a human path, but slightly difficult to keep dry.

Then we went through this long stretch of almost the equivalent of quicksand, except with mud. But still, this was conquered with only minor muddiness. Then we encountered a submerged section of the path that did not have an easy solution to cross for me. Eddy was wearing sandals, and was able to kind of balance his way on a submerged board that was still somewhat buoyant. So he crossed successfully. I however, was wearing shoes and wasn’t too hot on the idea of going barefoot in that swampy area.

The situation.
The situation.

I start to think about possible ways to cross. I considered fording that central water area, using some sticks to kind of stilt my way through, or going all the way back through the other swampy area again.

Thinking it Out
Thinking it Out

In the meantime, Eddy is kind of trying to figure out what I should do too.

Eddy lulzing
Eddy lulzing

After some consideration, I decide that those grassy things to the right of me (left in the picture) are probably strong enough to hold my weight. Even though they’re in the deep water, they seem like they’re rooted in the ground or at least float well enough for me to cross the obstruction.

Setting Off
Setting Off

So far so good. They’re supporting me perfectly and there doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Problems
Problems

The next step is right onto a tree. And that tree doesn’t look like it could hold me at all, and trying to avoid stepping in a big pile of water, I decided my next move.

Hmmm
Hmmm

There was another trail of grassy plants that is a larger loop, but it appeared that they would meet up at the end of the obstruction and thus enable me to bypass the tree situation. So I head on back and decide to take the alternate route. It seemed pretty safe. The water appeared to be deeper on this other loop, but the plants were holding up fine on the inner loop.

The Detour
The Detour

Then I start noticing that these plants were smaller. And kind of bobbled when I stepped on them. And they were getting smaller and smaller. Until about two thirds of the way there something failed or slipped and I stepped into a big section of water. The last thing I remember thinking was “this is kind of like island hopping in World War II!”

All hell then broke loose and the next thing I remember is standing in swamp water halfway up my chest while holding my bag and camera above my head. Since I’ve been wandering around on and around the water a lot with my camera, I’ve trained myself to always throw my camera hand up when I’m falling, and that instinct worked perfectly. The bag got somewhat wet on the outside, but luckily it was waterproof. Eddy was watching the whole thing, and was talking to a couple who had come from the opposite side.

I then decided to ask Eddy to try and take my bag and camera so I could use my arms and try to extract myself from this slightly amusing mess.

The Aftermath
The Aftermath

As you can see, I made it out. I’m pretty soaked and dirty. And slightly smelly. And very pleased with myself. Nothing important got wet.

We took the bus back up the U-District, where I blended in with the local population.

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