Help sometimes comes from unlikely places. One friend told me about being down to crumbs in the pantry when an anonymous grocery gift card arrived in the mail. Last week I was scouting a remote area for a snow shoeing trip when I came across a fireman whose truck battery had died and was able to give him a jump. One of our more interesting personal experiences took place on a lengthy bike ride and resulted in us learning–the flavor of manna.
A challenging and scenic bike ride in the Seattle area is the John Wayne Iron Horse trail. This packed earth and gravel trail is built on an old rail road bed. The 21 mile segment from Rattlesnake lake east of Seattle climbs from an elevation of 1000 to nearly 3000 feet near the top of Snoqualmie Pass. It crosses old trestles and passes through a 2.3 mile long, unlit, railroad tunnel at the end.
My wife and I had to work our way up to this ride. On our first attempt we only made it to the ten mile point before turning around, but we vowed to go the distance the next time.
Our plan was to get an early start before the heat of the day and take a snack break at the halfway point. After passing through the tunnel we would eat at the Hyak Ski area at the top of Snoqualmie pass. We knew there were several restaurants at the ski area and decided to dine at a restaurant rather than pack a lunch.
The early part of the trip went well. We were one of the first people on the trail that morning and enjoyed stopping to look at waterfalls or the spectacular scenery from our vantage point over the pass. I ride a lot more than Laurie but thanks to the rest stop at the halfway point she was ready to go all the way. Going light by not packing a lunch seemed to be the wise decision.
A few miles from the tunnel we ran across an unusual sight. It was a Clif Bar sitting in the middle of the trail. There was morning dew on the wrapper but it wasn’t dusty. It appeared that it had fallen off a park service vehicle or another traveler late the night before or early that day. We picked it up, figuring we’d feed it to squirrels or birds at the top. We certainly weren’t going to eat it ourselves. That would be like cooking fresh road kill.
We pushed through to the nearly 100 year old Snoqualmie tunnel at the summit. Traversing the tunnel is a creepy experience. Water drips down the walls and for most of the trip you have only your battery powered headlights to light your way through the narrow passageway. On occasion you’ll see oncoming headlights from other cyclists and in one case we came across an unlighted pedestrian–a guy who probably thinks it’s okay to talk on his cell phone while driving without headlights at night.
When we emerged from the tunnel we were starved; ready for a sit down meal as a reward for our efforts. Only one problem: it turned out that the restaurants at the top were all closed for the season.
We biked part way down the road that parallels the highway. A local told us that there was a restaurant open several miles down the hill. But by that time Laurie was burned out. No energy. Ready to quit. We made our way back to the trail head–the one with the closed restaurants.
As we rested at a picnic table I pulled out the Clif Bar–the one found on the trail that we had saved for the squirrels. I unwrapped it, broke it, and passed half to Laurie. As she chewed on it she said, “Manna from heaven comes in Oatmeal and Raisin Walnut.”
So now you know at least one flavor of manna from heaven.
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