Monday, April 23, 2012

Skagit Bay Estuary

It's amazing the things you never knew existed that are in your own backyard.  I've lived here in Skagit Valley my whole life, but I confess, until very recently I never knew what people were talking about when they mentioned Fir Island. This was basically because there's nothing on Fir Island to see. (Well, almost nothing.) Also, it doesn't look anything like an island-- I mean, look at the picture; do you look at that and think island? Because I now work in a tourist town (La Conner) and deal with tourists who ask "how do I get to Fir Island," I had to look it up...and wonder, "why do you want to go there?"

Last weekend I was introduced to a reason for going to Fir Island--it's a dog paradise!  This was my first hike with Corinne...another dog person. I never thought I would EVER label myself a dog person. Never mind that when I was young I had a dog I carried around in a backpack and treated like it was my baby. When she died, I detached from dogs. I decided dogs were a stupid pain the butt, and why would anyone with four kids want to clean up after a damn dog anyway.

I couldn't believe when 5 years ago I was overcome with the desire to get a dog.  I read everything I could about dogs...I became obsessed with the "Dog Whisperer."  I was going to rescue some poor dog and turn it into the best behaved dog in history. Ha.  

So, after my dog attacked several dogs, I decided she just needed to stay away from other canines. (She doesn't hurt them...she's just extremely dominate. Dog people know what I'm talking about.) Corinne assured me she was willing to chance a dog fight--she wanted to show me the estuary and let the dogs run free.  

Peg and Lexi...BFFs 
When Corinne pulled in to take us to Fir Island, I discovered she was on a whole nother level of dog person. She had a dog limousine. A seat for me, a seat for her, and the whole stinkin' back open for the dogs...plenty of room for a cage fight. This was going to be a fun ride.

I'm so glad Corinne chanced this hike with me and my anti-social dog, because I found out she's not the crazy bitch I thought she was. (Lexi, not Corinne!) The dogs got along reasonably well, and they had an absolute blast running around in the water. It's a beautiful hike to boot--I plan on returning many times. For anyone thinking about checking it out for themselves, just know you have to have a "Discover Pass" to park, and that there is hunting allowed from September to mid March.  Maybe I should train Lexi to be a hunting dog? Maybe not. 

I just love when people will do stupid poses for me...thanks Corinne! 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Padilla Bay Shore Trail

Here is a hike that gives a whole different taste of what the Northwest is all about.  Nobody is going to feel like they are on the set of a Twilight movie on this trail!  One piece of advice if you decide to come here (maybe I'll even call this hiking lesson #14)...use the bathroom facility when you start, whether you think you need to or not. ("Wizards of Ooze"...what a name for a port-o-potty company, right?) Trust me, there is NO place to sneak off to take a pee--and a lot of people use this trail, so your not going to want to chance squatting behind any of the unsubstantial shrubbery. (even a male would have a hard time being inconspicuous)

Just some of the runners and dog walkers

This is such an ideal place to get an easy walk in.  Flat...not even so much as a bump.  I've taken my kids here with their bikes when they were little, and I'd recommend it for bike riding if it weren't for the wind.  I don't care if you get there and it's calm...there will be wind before your done.  And it's strong--I was making just as good progress walking as some people riding their bikes. Which brings me to a funny story. I had my head phones on, (held together with duct there anything I own that my kids haven't lost or broken?) and I was really getting into the music.

My barely hanging together headphones

Now, I have to music is a little less than wholesome. (sorry--but I like good beat) Well, I get a little carried away sometimes and end up singing out loud.  I don't mean just happens. So, without realizing it, I sang out "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song"...and then realized a bike rider was right beside me.  And like I said--she was going slow.  Neck and neck, right there, for way too long kind of slow.  Ugh...lesson #15, learn to keep your mouth shut when hiking with headphones.

Speaking of hiking lessons, I broke # 8. (don't hike with your camera in hand)  I figured I would have to have a stroke to fall on this trail, and I wanted my camera ready for when I saw a heron. (I just had to see a heron...this is like heron heaven) Guess what?  No herons...until I put my camera away, of course.  I did manage to get an OK picture before he flew off...but those buggers are tough to get close to!

Can you see Mr. Heron?

About half way through my hike (it's approximately 5 miles round trip) I stopped at a bench to eat my snack. (an apple, fruit leather, and an energy bar...quite an upgrade from the rice krispie treat last time)  Again, it was a bench dedicated to a loved one.  Again, I took a picture...and again, I couldn't find any information on this person.

The bench

This bums me out--I love the idea of knowing the story and appreciating the life that these lovely benches are dedicated to.  If I ever dedicate anything to anyone, I'm going to make sure to have a webpage about their life as well.  And when I die, I would love to have something useful dedicated in my honor...maybe even a port-o-potty. (just don't call it wizards of ooze, please ;)

If your going to make a sign, shouldn't you at least come up with a name?

Friday, April 6, 2012

First Hike of 2012!

I was almost feeling like a real hiker last year.  I should have kept going through the winter--maybe bought some snow shoes or something.  I could have gone with the hiking group my friend Cindy belongs to--she's invited me enough times. (I did go the summer, of course)  But because I'm such a wimp and don't like getting cold, here it is spring and I am totally off my game.  I know... I didn't have much game to start with, but now it feels like I'm back to square one.

When I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to hike in Florida, I really was serious. That would have been a much more exciting beginning to 2012--maybe even with pictures of alligators!  But alas, Anacortes will have to do.  Did you know that Anacortes gets about 6 inches less rainfall per year than Mount Vernon? (no fair, right? It's only a half hour away) This makes it a good option for hiking though--and there are a LOT of hiking trials. Enough to make a person like me hopelessly lost; which is why I spent a whole $10 on maps...practically my largest purchase thus far on hiking gear. (unless you count my ipod)

But as I drove into Anacortes and the sun was really shining, I found I was uninspired to hike through forest mazes, and opted to head for Washington Park.  I used to take my kids here often when they were little, and I knew there was some hiking close to the water. (more sun!)

A deer greeted me as I drove into the parking lot
As I hiked along through the bushes, gazing out at the water, I noticed the trail was just paralleling the paved road, (for campers) and finally gave in and just started walking on it instead.  "Sheesh, this doesn't feel much like hiking," I thought, but at least I wasn't having to fight the spider webs.

The 'real' trail
Kids playing by the water...brings back so many memories.
When I came to where the road looped back around, there was a trail that kept going straight. Hooray, some real hiking!  I didn't have a map, and the trail signs were pretty useless in my opinion; so I figured I would just go for as long as I felt comfortable, and then turn around.

This trail was amazing!  Such great views of the water, and I even came to a nice bench to sit and eat my healthy hiking snack. (a rice krispie treat--food for champions)  I figured I should look up the person who the bench was dedicated to when I got home, so I took a picture. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any info...please get back to me if anyone reading this knows her.

This trail was pretty narrow, and in places a little sketchy if you had small kids.  But, I just couldn't stop following it--it was so orange and bright and just seemed to say, "go a little further". (I thought it amusing when I caught myself humming "follow the yellow brick road")

A little like yellow bricks?

The trail finally ended at the cutest little cove.  It seemed like a great place for an otter or mermaid or something to hang out--so I sat down and waited. "God...if there is an otter or seal nearby...could you send it over here?"  I always chuckle at myself when I make these sort of requests to God--it sort of feels like I'm ordering fries with my happy meal.  (can I have a toy too?)  But I think God has a sense of humor, and I figure it never hurts to ask. (no sea creature the answer was no)

Wait...I think I see a tail.

Getting up to head back, I noticed a sign with actual words on it. "Loop Road"...I saw this sign in the parking lot and thought it was the lame trail that was just next to the road. Humm...seems if I just follow this trail, it should lead back around to the parking lot.  My navigational history told me just to go back the same way I came...but you know how I love a loop.  So I chanced it, and found my way back without a problem. (no thanks to the useless signs) 
Ummm...and this is helpful because....

A sign with directions...what a concept.
So, there you have it...I'm back in the saddle.  Looking at the passing ferries on the way back reminded me of the many trails on the San Juan Islands--Mount Constitution, here I come!

Better save my money...these ferries aren't cheap.

The skies directly over my house.  Why do I live here again?