Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Winter of My Discontent

This has been a tough winter; though, Lord knows, not because of the weather! Here in the Northwest, this January felt more like May. No, what's been tough in my life is feeling like I'm in a "winter" transition...things feel gloomy and dead, and sometimes I wonder if what was good is past and what sucks is here to stay. And even though it may not be that cold outside, the newness of spring is not here to comfort me. (Though, this warm weather is confusing the poor plants. They need to go back to sleep! It's not time yet!)
The weirdest ice formations coming out of the ground at Rockport
Even if spring may not be officially here, I know that hiking can be a comfort to me anytime. Now that I've started a full time job (outside the home...we all know raising kids is the toughest job there is!) my time is quite limited, and therefore my hiking, and comfort, as well. (Yes, this is part of the "winter of my discontent"...I know all you full timers are thinking "welcome to the real world") But not all is lost--I am determined to get out there as best I can, even if that means screwing the laundry. 
A tiny moss island on the trails by Heart Lake
So far, I've done three short hikes this year: Rockport with my daughter and dog (first hike this year, and also my first hike last year; which is when I wrote about it) Heart and Little Cranberry Lake by myself, and Guemes Mountain with my husband. There was not much to say about any of them, but I thought all three together might make a decent blog post. 
You can get all the information you need about Rockport from last years post (  but I want to add that there is a trail I've never noticed before called the "Skagit Sauk-Reach Trail" directly across the hwy from Rockport that looks promising. (maybe next year's first hike?) I will also include this bit of wisdom I learned that day: no matter how bummed, stressed, or frustrated you may feel, if you go take your dog to the woods, you'll feel better. A dog is NEVER any of those things while romping through the trees and splashing in every mud puddle, and it will be impossible not to be affected by their utter joy in just living.  
If you want to hike in the Heart Lake/Mount Erie area, I highly suggest getting a map. The trails are really well marked, but there are TONS of them; weaving in and out and everywhere. I'm not the best with maps, but it was actually fun experimenting with navigating that maze. 

Most of these trails are meant for bikers, and they can be pretty tore up and muddy, but this time of year you pretty much have the place to yourself. (at least I did) The day I spent wandering here alone with my thoughts reminded me again just how much I love hiking. It's not because I'm so in love with being alone with my thoughts (most the time I'm wishing my thoughts would just SHUT UP for a minute) but because when I'm hiking, my thoughts tend to be so much more quieted and peaceful. It's that comfort I long for; a feeling of belonging that is hard to find anywhere else. 
A snag in the middle of Little Cranberry.
Hard to tell where the tree begins and the water ends
The view on top Guemes Mountain
Guemes Mountain is found on Guemes Island, which is a 5 minute ferry ride across from Anacortes. Drive all the way through town, turn left, drive to the end of the street and you'll find yourself in the ferry line.

 It's cheap, it's easy, it's a good day. The trail is new, easy to find, and only 2.3 miles. The only thing I would complain about is the sign on the TOP that says "Hikers Only". (a little late to be mentioning that in my opinion...what are you supposed to do with your horse or bike at that point?) I think this would make a great family trip with kids, as long as you don't expect too much out of poor Guemes Island. It is NOT a tourist town, trust me. If you want to make this trip a romantic date like we did, downtown Anacortes on the other hand has some great bars and restaurants. I give a big thumbs up to staying and making a night of it. (Anchors Bar has a really fun shuffle board table that is a nice change from pool)
We found Bigfoot!
Winter is winding down, and I know that the things in my life that are making things seem "sucky" are only the downs in the "ups and downs" that is life. I will keep my chin up, and  know that the ups are coming, including the fact that spring and summer are on their way. See you then.