EVERETT — As my 50th day of self-imposed-then-governor-mandated lockdown loomed, I decided, after living in Everett for three years or so — give or take a year because I really don’t remember — to finally check out this thing called Pigeon Creek Trail. It always looked the opposite of intriguing on the map but it was nearby and that’s what mattered. Turns out it is horrible.
The trailhead is only two blocks from where I live, but after the first block I was instantly lost. The hugely oversized Kimberly-Clark building was disorienting and I imagined it to be filled with rat leavings and human skeletons as it looms over the saddest-looking skate park in the world. Around this time I started feeling lightheaded from holding my breath because I read somewhere that the site is deeply contaminated with poisonous toxins. I’m used to holding my breath since I do it all the time now when people walk or jog past me during these contagious days. Obviously I am often lightheaded, which is not important.
There are signs that say “Pigeon Creek Trail” but other signs say “Mill Town Trail” so that was a problem, but the internets have since told me the Mill Town Trail apparently links up with the Pigeon one but heads north toward what I assume is something less horrible.
When I came to the part that’s almost entirely encased by chain links and barbed wire, my mood switched from simple confusion to solid fear. All I could think about was a story I once read somewhere about the murder of a woman on this very trail two or three years ago — give or take several years because I really don’t remember — and my heart sank a little while I stared into an abyss that appeared to have no escape options.
Who would be insane enough to enter this cage I said to myself as I walked in, keeping an eye out for sketchy characters. Sure enough two masked people appeared, following behind me. The man kept asking the woman, “Are you going in the water?” Three times he said this. The woman seemed not to answer and also seemed to be walking five or 10 feet behind him and I wasn’t sure if they were together or if he was a psycho attempting to harass her. Later I realized they could have been normal people keeping distance in these abnormal times, but in that moment I was not open to rational thoughts. I sped up but they kept getting closer so I slowed down to let them pass while I pretended to take pictures of the giant mutant cranes that towered over us like Imperial Walkers. As I pretended to take pictures of the cranes I actually did take pictures of the cranes. I used my telephone to do this.
Their one-sided conversation had confirmed to me that there would likely be water at the end of this unhappy trail. From that point on I had only one thought: Will I drown?
I used to think of a trail as a friendly dirt path that meanders through tall trees or wavy green meadows in basically the mountains or some other place that resembles nature. This was not that. In fact, pretty much the entire Pigeon Creek Trail is dismal. I don’t know, is the Port of Everett terminal supposed to be scenic? Because it isn’t. On this particular day there was not a single working soul to be seen, which added to my unease because I felt there should at least be witnesses. Also, the whole area emitted constant eerie mechanical sounds but I couldn’t see any kind of movement. I passed a mini Tacoma Dome which fortunately did not smell like the real one but definitely needed a colorful paint job. I assumed, wrongly of course, that it was filled with soybeans.
There are railroad tracks that run alongside the trail. The chain link fence separates them from the trail, probably so people won’t be tempted to step in front of a speeding train. There are huge gaps in the fence so if you walk a little further I’m sure you can find a spot but I don’t recommend it.
At last I reached the final destination — a tiny beach with rocks and logs and lots of signs. Before I could admire the view I was accosted by a large printed warning about ghosts and quicksand and dangerous mud, illustrated by an image of a flailing human getting sucked into a life-ending vortex.
I guess it was nice (the beach, not the vortex), but actually no it wasn’t. I mean what goes on here? I am not the kind of person who always sees the worst in things but this was probably the worst beach I’d ever seen. And, as if the place knew exactly how I was feeling, the words “DON’T BE AFRAID” had been carved into the picnic table, which only traumatized me more.
I stood around for what I hoped was a decent interval of time, trying to soak in whatever it was that a person might find charming here, then hurried back to the safety of my home. I don’t know why anyone would go on this miserable urban excursion but apparently people do. If you’re looking for a cure for happiness, I highly recommend the Pigeon Creek Trail.