Sure, I'll say it again: time flies. But I figure that the years really do fly by faster because each passing year is an increasingly smaller percentage of your life as a whole.
So here's my run-down of 2015 highlights in pictures, with links back to posts with even more shots of these highlights.
What would make this even better is hearing about some of your 2015 highlights in the comments below, too. Even if you're not in the Pacific Northwest.
One of my goals here at Pacific Northwest Seasons is to inspire you to get out and enjoy your region, wherever you are. And along with that, I hope we're all inspired to share our stories because everyone has interesting stories to tell. It's about everyday stories, adventures, and life. I hope you enjoy a bit of my year in pictures.
|Mt. Rainier from top of Crystal Mountain, WA|
Nope. It was the warmest, driest, worst winter for skiing on record.
Our attempt at hiking to Melakwa Lake above Denny Creek, just below Snoqualmie Pass, in mid-January was thwarted by time constraints and muscle cramps, but it was doable. A few others on the trail that day passed us on their way back down.
|Punch Bowl on Eagle Creek, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, OR|
With mild weather settling in, February was the beginning of a fantastic hiking year. I returned to hike Eagle Creek (with the masses now) in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area for the first time since high school with, appropriately, a friend from high school.
And there was also that fantastic weekend over Valentine's Day hiking in the Coulee Country of eastern Washington. Delicious.
|Frenchman's Coulee, near Vantage, WA|
|Mt. Hood from Rocky Butte, Portland, OR|
And of course the continued mild, clear weather made for perfect kayaking in Skagit Bay and hiking on Orcas Island.
|Heather Lake, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, WA|
|Broken Group Islands, just off Vancouver Island, B.C.|
And then there was that fantastic weekend hiking near Bend, Oregon, with hikes at Smith Rock State Park and the Green Lakes trail. These hikes are definitely discovered, so hit the trail early to beat the crowds if you go.
|Crooked River, Smith Rock State Park, OR|
|Almost to Cascade Pass, North Cascades National Park, WA|
June 2015, with *normally* late July conditions in the alpine corners of the Cascades and Olympics, was just perfect for hiking. On assignment for the Washington's National Parks Fund, I spent an overnight in the North Cascades National Park and joined a park trail crew leader on a trip up to Cascade Pass and beyond to assess trail restoration work.
Later in the month I was out on the western Olympic Peninsula reporting on the complex and important salmon habitat restoration work going on in the Upper Quinault River watershed. I'm proud that Pacific Northwest Seasons featured this valuable project when bigger regional news outlets like the Seattle Times and other publications and media haven't.
|Pacific Crest Trail just beyond the Kendall Katwalk, WA|
My peak hike was to the Kendall Katwalk (and beyond) on the Pacific Crest Trail as it heads north from Snoqualmie Pass into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. This is a gorgeous stretch of trail that passes through lush forest up into rocky alpine high country rimmed by craggy granite peaks. Highly recommend if you're up for a good 11-12 miles.
|Ferry to Orcas Island, San Juan Islands, WA|
Come August I was in dire need of some soothing after a family death. I took a retreat to Orcas Island where I hiked, ate wonderful meals at excellent Doe Bay Café, and spent an afternoon sketching and lounging. I firmly believe that putting in miles on the trail is good for helping heal anything weighing you down.
Later in the month, as forest fires were raging in the overly dry mountains, I stuck to the woods for a hike on the Talus Loop on the flanks of Mt. Si to try and escape the smoky skies.
|On the Pacific Crest Trail just north of Stevens Pass, WA|
In September, autumn seemed to crank up early after our hot, dry summer. A hike on the Pacific Crest Trail north from Stevens Pass to Lake Valhalla was lovely in the misty alpine chill. An added bonus was the fun we had mingling with the many PCT thru hikers who were close to the end of their 2,600-mile+ walk from Mexico to Canada.
Mid-month I crossed off a bucket-list item with a road trip through Oregon and along the northern California coast into the redwoods, which of course involved a hike.
|On the trail to Blue Lake, Washington Pass, North Cascades, WA|
Later in the month was my first trip ever (!) to Deer Park on the northern Olympic Peninsula, where I joined a scientist from Olympic National Park to discuss their glacier monitoring program.
|Bridal Veil Falls, just off Highway 2 to Stevens Pass, WA|
By November our unusually dry weather pattern was replaced by a series of wet storms that slammed the region, causing river flooding and highway closures (which continued into December). Just a day after a big rainfall and a day before another, a few of us took to the trail to Bridal Veil Falls on the way to Lake Serene.
That's a lot of water coming down hard and fast.
|Weekend after Christmas at Snoqualmie Pass, WA|
Look for a blog post soon about my lovely little hike to Wahclella Falls east of Portland up the Columbia River Gorge on a rainy, wet morning. Lush, verdant green to follow.
So I'd love to hear about your 2015 highlights in the comments below. Start or join the conversation!
In 2016, let's all get outside more, revel in the joy of movement, connect with friends and strangers in kindness, smile just because, pay it forward, laugh out loud, cook tasty and healthful food, give thanks, tip a little extra for good service, sing in the shower (and elsewhere), and hug those you love...and maybe some that you don't.
Wishing you a happy 2016. Truly.