Saturday, February 22, 2020

2020 in the Pacific Northwest: A Year of Firsts

Here in the rapidly changing Pacific Northwest, with our influx of new residents, many of my treasured places are now on many (thousands) others' list of places to explore. 

One of my favorite hikes, Snow Lake in the Alpine Lake Wilderness (my first blog post in 2008), is now so crowded I haven't gone there in a few years.

So this year I'm trying to remember that each moment is fresh, no matter where you are or what you're doing. To that end, without really planning, so far this has been a year of several firsts for me. Now that I see that pattern emerging, I'm embracing it.

It started on New Year's Day, where a not-so-great snowpack led to me going for a walk at Seattle's Discovery Park on New Year's Day instead of the annual ski trip. My ski buddies and I enjoyed our only sunny day in what would become a record-breaking rainy January. It was a great start to the new year/decade.

My first day of skiing for the season was later than normal, into January. The normally 2ish hour trip took almost 4 hours. For the first time, I paid over $100 for a lift ticket ($139.50!). And after a fast and hard fall on the top of my second run, I ended up with a injured shoulder and had to ride down the mountain for the first time in a ski patrol toboggan.

These were not the sort of firsts I was striving for.

The run where I was carried down in a toboggan.

Fortunately the shoulder was just badly bruised and nothing major torn, broken, or dislocated. So a week or so later I did my first of what I hope will be weekly polar bear open water plunges. Or, as they call it in the United Kingdom, wild swimming.

When I tell people about it, most think I'm crazy for doing it, but a few say, cool! I saw a friend's posts on FaceBook about doing it near my home and asked to join her. The next week another friend joined in, and she's hard to get out of the water.

My very first cold water plunge.

My favorite spot so far is the sandy beach at Seattle's Golden Gardens Park, but I did a Lake Washington dip. And my friend and I have plans to go to some Salish Sea islands for more plunges in the months ahead.

After today's chilly plunge (air temp: 44 degrees F, water temp not much more), I discovered that Miri's, the little snack bar just steps away from the beach at Golden Gardens, is a foodie find. Chef Gabe pulled some fresh hot huckleberry scones out of the oven just in time to pair with a cup of hot tea after my swim.

Shared with a friend.

So I'm looking for more firsts.

How about you? What are your firsts so far in the newish year? Would love to hear in the comments below.

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! 

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When You Go

If you decide to try "wild swimming," this blog post from the UK offers some good advice.