Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Early Summer in the Pacific Northwest: Hikes, Good Eats, and Ferry Rides

Despite my best intentions to tend to the house and yard on weekends now and then, I usually find myself out and about, hiking or meeting up with friends or relatives.

So today features a few highlights of the last month or so here in the Pacific Northwest, local style.

Bluebird Hiking
In mid-June, I finally managed to meet up with a family friend I hadn't seen since...college? You don't need to know how long ago that was, but wow it was great to connect with Andy after so many years. From summiting Mt. St. Helens to Mt. Fuji in Japan, Andy and his wife keep it all in the family.

But that Saturday was just Andy and me, and the hike up Scorpion Mountain in the Wild Sky Wilderness near Skykomish, Washington, was truly a gem. Neither of us had been there before, and it was surprisingly not too crowded. 

This is mostly a ridge trail, with some steep ups and downs. Once we broke out of the subalpine forest to the summit ridge, the views were magnificent. Directly to the north was the lesser known Cascade volcano Glacier Peak, in all its rugged splendor.

 Andy said we hiked 9.1 miles roundtrip from the trailhead to the 5,500+ elevation summit, with a little over 2,700 feet in gain and 1,300 feet in loss.

Port Townsend and Environs
In June I managed two trips to Port Townsend to visit family. I'm always up for a ferry ride, and the Edmonds-Kingston run is my route.

Morning at the Edmonds ferry terminal
I met up with cousins for an excellent and tasty lunch at the thoroughly charming Finn River Farm & Cidery in Chimacum, WA, about 10 miles south of Port Townsend. With a sprawling complex of buildings and open air dining, this is THE place to be most evenings in the summer, with live music and dancing. 

I opted for crispy thin-crust pizza topped with farm fresh veggies and cheese from local Mt. Townsend Creamery, plus garden fresh green salad. Cousin John and his daughter Nia had bratwurst made from pork raised nearby. To drink, I had the crisp pear cider, which happened to be perfect IMO.

To burn off some of those calories, afterwards we walked down and along the beach at Old Fort Townsend State Park just south of Port Townsend. On a Friday, it was pretty quiet along the lush forested shoreline.

Before heading back to Seattle later in the evening, my aunt insisted on taking us to a nice Italian dinner at Lanza's in Port Townsend. I did not go hungry that day.

Misty/Rainy Day Hike
Although the bluebird days are nice, this year we're mindful of the impending bad fire wildfire season. So Dave and I didn't mind hiking in a light rain to Merritt Lake east of Stevens Pass.

Despite the very rough road (in places) to the trailhead off Highway 2, the hike itself seemed pretty mellow and switchbacked leisurely up 2,100 feet over about 3 miles to a sweet alpine lake.

When we got near the lake, a whiff of smoke and fire blew past on the breeze--definitely NOT good in the drought-parched woods. We found a still smoldering campfire, with a bit of flame, littered with a half melted plastic bottle and foil. 

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we aim to practice the Leave No Trace ethic, so finding this fire was concerning. I chugged my water and then took several trips to the lake to refill the bottle and dump water on the fire. Sigh.

Regardless, this was a lovely hike and not as long or rigorous as the Scorpion Mountain hike a few weeks earlier.

And Then There's Wine
So I don't drink much (except water and tea), but I was all on board the party van for a dear friend's milestone birthday outing to the Woodinville wine country northeast of Seattle. Yes, we literally went there in a big van with a hired driver. Better safe than sorry.

I hadn't been in several years and was shocked at the traffic and proliferation of wineries out there now. Our first stop was the classic DeLille Cellars, where we had a sampling of half dozen beautiful wines, from a light roussane white to robust reds (which I didn't taste because I just can't do red wine anymore).

Our next stop, Mark Ryan Winery, was much louder and more crowded than DeLille. We happened to be there with a large contingent of women wearing faux leopard skin (dresses, shoes, pants, hats, etc.) and wondered if one of the vaguely familiar women was a reality TV star.

"Do you notice it's mostly women at these tastings, except for men with their wives/girlfriends or gay guys," pointed out Shannon. Yes, I did notice many more women than men.

But the wine was good; I particularly enjoyed the dry white viognier.  

A relaxing place to finish up was Matthews Winery, which had a spacious and lovely contemporary tasting room set against a wooded hillside. By this time I wasn't really catching all the wines, but I did enjoy more white and rose here.

 So there you have it. Just a smattering of places and things that we locals do here in the Pacific Northwest (well, western and north-central Washington to be exact). 

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! 
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Anne said...

There are so many reasons to love living here and you nailed several of them! I also like a nice viognier so will look for this label.

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Lesley said...

Just caught up on your last few posts. Lovely photos as always and inspiring us all to embrace the outdoors! Thank you for enriching my day!

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jill said...

Thanks Suezy, Anne, and Lesley for your comments, as always! Suezy, I remember a pear wine back in the eights and nineties, was it Paul Thomas?