Photos from recent trips I've led for Everett Parks and Recreation.  Photo captions are under each picture.  Navigate through the photos by clicking the arrows on the sides of the photo.  Clicking on photo will expand the size.  Enjoy! 

 

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Snowshoe 1/31  Lake Easton State Park

We headed across Snoqualmie Pass to this state park on the east slopes of the Cascades, and found some fine conditions for snowshoeing-- a little fresh snow, a little sunshine, mild temperatures, and some gentle trails with almost nobody else around.  Our route from the Sno-Park mostly followed the ski trails, which were covered with 2-3" inches of fresh snow and made for delightful snowshoeing. We reached the Iron Horse (John Wayne) Trail and had lunch near the bridge over the Yakima River. Before it was done, we'd covered around 3 1/2 miles and logged 200 feet or so of elevation gain.

Cross Country Skiing 1/27-28  Ski Weekend to Plain and Leavenworth

There's a ton of great ski trails to do on the eastern slopes of the Cascades, so we spent a weekend exploring a few of them. We started on Saturday at Plain Valley Nordic Trails, arriving right at the tail end of a dump of 10" of fresh snow. It was gorgeous!  After checking in to our motel and having a nice dinner in Wenatcheee, a few of us headed back to Leavenworth for a short evening ski tour on some lighted ski trails (an under the moonlight). On Sunday, we returned to Leavenworth for more skiing at Icicle River Trails. Some in the group logged up to 18 miles of skiing, and a fun time was had by all.

Hike 1/25 Lookout Mountain Forest Preserve

Lookout Mountain is a sprawling foothill that rises to about 2600 feet high just south of Bellingham and west of Lake Whatcom. In 2013, Whatcom County Parks opened the trails system on this 4400-acre tract of former private timber land. The forests are covered with second and third growth now, but it makes a fine lowland hiking destination when your goals are modest. We hiked most of the 6 or so miles of trails here, which was highlight by glimpses of Sudden Valley Falls, an unofficially named falls that fluctuates with seasonal water flows, and was certainly impressive today. A steady rain shower kept us on the go most of the time, but it was a nicely built and maintained trail for a drippy winter day hike.

Snowshoe 1/23 Crystal Springs Sno-Park

In what seems to be a recurring theme this month, we braved a winter storm warning to travel across Snoqualmie Pass for a snowshoe tour near Crystal Springs Sno-Park. The travel was challenging, but the snowshoeing could not have been more serene and beautiful. Several inches of fresh snow coated the forest, and it was piling up during the three hours or so we spent on the trails. The well-marked snowshoe route had been stomped out by people over the weekend, so even with the new snow, it was an easy-to-follow path. We had the trails to ourselves on this quiet snowy day in the Cascades.

Snowshoe 1/21 Lichtenwasser Lake

A group of 11 strong snowshoers joined me for this challenging tour on a very snowy day in the Cascades near Stevens Pass. After following the snow-covered Smithbrook Road for 2 relatively easy miles, we followed an off-trail route through deep powder and up some occasionally steep slopes  to reach the seldom-visited lake. There's no shortage of snow here-- some areas showed depths of up to 8 to 10 feet. The round trip to the lake and back wound up being about 7 miles, 1800 feet of elevation gain. We finished only a half hour or so before sundown.

Snowshoe 1/20 Introductory Tour to Lake Wenatchee State Park

This was a fun tour for (mostly) first-timers along the shores of the Wenatchee River and Lake. The state park there has several marked snowshoe routes to follow, which we used as a basis for our 2.5-mile loop around the North Park area. This is a lower elevation area so the snow is not that deep (16" or so), but was more than adequate for our outing. We practiced some techniques for climbing and descending hills, gave a few pointers about how to spot potential hazards looming under the snow surface, and most importantly, got to tour plenty of scenic spots both on and off the marked routes. Even got some nice doses of sunshine-- always a bonus on these gray days of January.

Walk 1/17 Skagit Valley Walks and Lunch in Concrete 

I was pleased to be joined by 14 of my best hiking pals to get in a little mid-winter morning exercise and celebrate my birthday with a fun lunch afterwards. Our walks featured a couple of relatively short trails along the Skagit, first on the Cascade Trail near Lyman, then at Rasar State Park. We spotted a couple of eagles, enjoyed some nice views of the area, and logged close to 3 miles total. Despite early morning and mid-afternoon rains throughout the area, we managed to get in our walks and stay completely dry-- hooray!  Lunch after the walks was in Concrete at the Lone Star Restaurant and Waterin' Hole (the actual name).  Boy oh boy. Let's just say nobody went home hungry. Thanks everyone for joining me for this fun day. I can't think of a better bunch of folks to have a birthday lunch with.

Cross Country Skiing 1/13  Lake Wenatchee State Park & Kahler Glen 

The recent dump of snow in the Cascades meant that the skiing would be nice, and indeed it was as we traveled to the South Park area at Lake Wenatchee State Park.  Miles of trails are available to cross country skiers here, and our group of 9 did a pretty good job of covering most of them. Many people skied from the park to the adjacent Kahler Glen Golf Course, where the trails are in a more open setting and allow a few more views. Although it was a mostly cloudy day, the mild temperatures (for mid-January) hovered around 40 degrees, so it was a nice comfortable day out there.

Snowshoe 1/11  V.E.S.T. (Very Easy Snowshoe Tour) to Lake Wenatchee State Park  

This was a stormy day, both in the Puget Sound region (heavy rains) as well as in the mountains (over a foot of new snow), but the fearless group of 10 all showed up for their snowshoe tour. Driving conditions were not easy, but we used caution, and scaled back our plans some, opting not to go all the way to Leavenworth as was originally planned. Turned out that Lake Wenatchee State Park has some gorgeous fresh powder for snowshoeing, and although the distant view weren't much, the surroundings were a pristine white, and the tour was very nice. Afterwards, we had a wonderful lunch at the cozy Squirrel Tree Restaurant at Coles Corners. So glad that everyone braved the storm and we made a successful trip.

Snowshoe 1/9  Salmon La Sac  

This was a pleasant tour "over the river and through the woods" north of Roslyn, and my ambitious group covered over four miles of pretty terrain, highlighted by a lunch break alongside the Cooper River. The wet weather stayed away for the most part, and we enjoyed the quietude of an uncrowded weekday. Our trip was going smoothly until the van broke down on I-90 near North Bend on the drive home. We had to have a "rescue" vehicle brought to us from Everett, and had a couple of hours to wait. So, what to do with some down time on the side of I-90 for a couple of hours?  Of course-- have some pizzas delivered!  Thanks to Frankies Pizza in North Bend for accommodating our unusual request. They were delicious!  We got our rescue van, everyone was back safely by 8:15pm, and the van is being repaired and should be back in service soon.

Cross Country Ski 1/7  Chiwawa Sno-Park (alternate for Salmon Ridge)  

Some poor conditions at Salmon Ridge on the Mount Baker Highway meant that we had to go shopping for a better place to ski, and we definitely found that at the Chiwawa Sno-Park area, not far from Lake Wenatchee. A nice groomed trail called the See and Ski Trail leads you for about 4 or 5 miles of gorgeous terrain through pine forests with occasional stretches along the Wenatchee River. Gently falling snow added a nice touch for most of the day, and it was a pleasant surprise to have the trails nearly to ourselves, even on a Sunday. It made for a very peaceful day out.

Snowshoe 1/6  Introductory Tour to Gold Creek Valley  

This was our first "beginners" tour of the season, at the nice gentle valley surrounding Gold Creek near Snoqualmie Pass. A bunch of unexpected cancellations whittled our group down to only four, but no matter, we simply had three times more fun to make up for the ones who couldn't come. There was about 2 or 3 feet of snow at Gold Creek, and a light batch of freezing rain during the night-time hours had put a beautiful glazing on everything. We snowshoed nearly 4 miles, covered a good portion of the valley including two lakes.

Hike 1/5  Priest Point Park  

This was a fun discovery for everyone. Priest Point Park in Olympia, which was originally home to a small catholic mission in the mid-1800's, has a great network of forest and bayside trails. Located only a couple miles from the state capitol, it's a year-round destination for hikers, joggers, dog-walkers, and the like. We drove down in wet weather, started hiking in wet weather, but at lunch time the sun magically appeared, and it turned out being a very nice day. We covered roughly 5 miles through the park, including the Ellis Cove Trail and a couple sections of beach along Budd Inlet. 

Walk 1/1  New Year's Beach Walk at Deception Pass  

New Year's Day has evolved into a hiking day for more and more people every year. Washington State Parks promotes a First Day Hikes program, and attendance at the event at Deception Pass was very good. Our group did a couple of short walks, first at West Beach, then later at Rosario Head and Bowman Bay. It was a glorious sunny day, hardly a breath of wind, and the spirit among the many many hikers who turned out at the park was contagiously upbeat. We also got in a side trip drive to the top of Mount Erie, where the views from the 1250-foot-high vista point were outstanding. A fine way to kick off 2018.

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