Sunny Days Were Meant For Walking

The sun didn’t last for long today, but when I wake up to a blue skied morning in winter, I try to tell myself work can wait. And it can. My oldest son and I went for a 5 mile hike on the local rail to trail before the clouds came back in. On the way back, he parted ways to go to his day, and I had a couple of miles to myself. The trail was busy though. Everyone else had the same idea.

We live on the Green to Cedar Rivers Trail, and often go walking on it. It’s urban, in that it cuts across our town, but is rural in how it feels (it rarely touches roads) and winds through trees.

In the coming two years this trail is going to be paved and widened. I am on the fence on how I feel about that. It makes easy for maintenance and disability access, but a nightmare to walk on cold days. Thankfully they will be building a horse path next to it, which we can walk on.

We got rewarded with finding a few new painted rocks. Wether or not you like it, I love finding them. I host a rock swap on our urban farm and use my finds to help stock it. And honestly, it brightens my day to find them.

Gold sparkly!

The past two weeks have been blustery, windy, even snowy, so here and there when we have a sunny day, I appreciate getting out. This was from last week on a quick hike. Through the trees on the trail is a peek-a-boo view of Mount Rainier.

Sometimes the rewards are finding broken branches, after the storms. I ran into the boys’ preschool teacher (when they went to nature school) and she had found this – and sent it home with me for Walker. Today I spotted the tree it came off of.

Even on the days when the weather starts to turn, it is still pretty to be out. And I know I’ll be home soon as I hurry up the trail.

Kitsap Memorial Park

Kitsap Memorial Park is a tiny Washington State Park hidden between the main land and the Olympic Peninsula. It’s not a large state park, but it boasts access to Hood Canal and is a great stop on the long drive to the mountains. One huge bonus is they have a free parking spot for the bathrooms (15 minutes max), which is huge as there isn’t many bathroom pit stops on the long drive.

The park is split in two, with one side the group area, the other has a small campground, cabin rentals and the beach access. This area also has a great playground for working the whines out of kids. Trail wise there isn’t a lot (only about 1.5 miles total), but the trail down to the water is well worth the stop.

The trail down from the top is steep, but easily walked, with a sturdy hand rail for coming back up. There is a bench at the bottom for people to enjoy the views.

At the bottom a set of concrete stairs, with handrails, leads down to the water. The Hood Canal doesn’t have a beach, but rather a rocky shore littered with shells from sea birds having enjoyed dinner. Not something one walks, but rather enjoys. The view of the Hood Canal bridge down the water is pleasant as well.

It’s mostly just a nice place to sit and enjoy the views. On sunny days the Olympic Mountains are visible across the water, and that leads one to get back in the truck and get moving. However, in winter, it’s easy to simply linger a bit more.

Winter Break Travel In The Snow

With two new books published in December, it was time for a get away. And Kirk and I even got to travel with a kid free trip, which of course we spent much of it waxing on about how much the boys would love the snow….oh well. We at least left them home in the snow we had gotten the day before (a shocking White Christmas, that rarely ever happens).

We went to Mount Rainier, and stayed at Alexander’s Lodge, where we had stayed before, a good 7 years before once.

The snow storms had stopped so the drive in was good. The weather inversions though that are common in late December and January were upon us. Where it is clear and sunny up high, but clouded over, in a bank of fog, down lower.

The property at the lodge is still as nice as ever, the pond was frozen over, but the waterfall at the end was running.

However, while we enjoyed our stay at the lodge, some things had changed in the time that had passed. The previous owners sold a few years back, and it is obvious that the new owners haven’t fully found their groove. Hopefully it will come. Winter is a hard time in the small town of Ashford. The communal hot tub was shut down, with no update on the website. The lodge needs some love, such as new paint….and couches that are not worn out. Still, it is close to the mountain, it’s warm, and well…it’s less than 2 miles to the park entrance. It’s also cheap in winter and you get breakfast included. We stayed this time in the upper turret room, which was 2 rooms total. It was pretty cool sleeping up there, in a circle. The death stairs were scary as all get out, meaning our boys would have found it hilarious to be in that room….

We spent time up in Rainier, before the snow level shot up a few thousand more feet. When Longmire gets snow in the winter, it should be enjoyed. It was perfect snow weather. Not icy, nor wet. And one didn’t need snowshoes, just warm boots. I love winter visits, when the crowds are low.

Trail of the Shadows is a nature walk in summer, but in winter feels so much more. In late winter it’s a great start to the Rampart Ridge hike, done on snowshoes. In winter you can see where the hares bound, and the deer come down for water.

The trail was well beaten and easy to walk on.

The iron springs, from the long ago hot springs, were gorgeous red in the snow.

In summer, the old Longmire cabin looks dark in the woods, but in winter? You might fantasize about living there…and ignore the chance of Hantavirus 😉

Iron spring by the cabin, it runs right by the foundation.

Snow skeleton sitting by a creek.

Another iron spring.

I love the PNW for its green. Even in the middle of winter there will always be something green.

The open meadows at Longmire.

The open areas are nearly always hot springs, under the ground, bubbling up.

If you bend over, or squat down, you can feel the warmth. It isn’t “hot” like at Yellowstone, but is warm. It wasn’t very stinky either on this day, which is always nice.

Kirk in the snow.

It wasn’t very cold, with the break in the snow. It was around 32*, with no wind. It was nice to do a hike kid free and just enjoying our time out there, taking a ton of photos and talking.