This morning I set out on to the east side for a hike up Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail with my friend, Will. As I pulled into the parking area for the trail my phone began to buzz with an alert. As I read the message that appeared on my phone, my mind did not quite understand. I read it again. And again. Surely this must be some mistake?
My reaction to the now-infamous missile alert was not what I had might’ve guessed. I had almost none. My logical brain told me that this was likely a mistake. No sirens were blaring. It wouldn’t make a great deal of sense for NK to launch an attack on the US. Even the slight fear and worry I had was met by a mostly indifferent feeling. If this was real, what could I actually do about it? I suppose I could’ve run for the bunkers built into the mountain trail I was about to hike. But what then? Wait out a nuclear fallout with no supplies save the water in my hiking bag?
Before I could even begin to call anyone my phone started to ring. Most of the calls were from family asking me if I had seen the alert and what I was going to do. While taking the calls I was also searching online and on social media; a search that mostly turned up comments of confusion. No one seemed to know what was going on. Nearly ten minutes had passed since the alert came out and I figured, by my best knowledge, that if the missile were real there was only about another five minutes to go. Not enough time to make it down the mountain.
Luckily for all of us the alert was a blunder. A big one at that. I feel apologetic toward those who, rightfully so, may have had much more severe reactions to the thought of impending doom. As we would all would later learn, the false missile alert was a byproduct of gross incompetence and an ineffective administration. I was well on my way up the trail before the official “false alarm” warnings were released.
The morning’s missile drama provided no shortage of jokes and conversation for my hiking partner and I. We had both hiked this trail previously and were surprised at how dry it was. Normally the upper third of Wiliwilinui is slippery and muddy. I recall a previous hike where another friend of mine slipped on some mud and face-planted some ferns (much to our amusement).
Although it was not effortless, I was very pleased at my performance on the trail. I’ve lost about 30 pounds these past few months. Not only did I feel much lighter making my way up the mountain, but I could tell my cardio fitness was also much improved.
On the trail and at the summit we ran into several other hikers. We of course exchanged jokes and laughs about the false missile alert. Although the summit was covered in clouds when we first arrived, the winds blew them off after a few minutes and we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the windward side.