Tuesday, December 29, 2020

2020, A Year Outdoors in Photos


What a long and strange year 2020 has been. How many of us foresaw our world changing so dramatically?

This afternoon I thought of how different last holiday season was compared to 2020. In 2019, there were dinners out with family and friends, a getaway to a bustling seaside town, a few parties, and shopping and walking in crowds. 

Between the pandemic, racial justice protests turned violent, devastating wildfires, crazy political and cultural divisions, and the loss of a friend and a beloved pet, well, I'm glad to see 2020 take leave. It was an intense year.

But the good times were equally intense in contrast. Everybody seemed to take my #getoutside motto to heart. I didn't stray more than 80 miles from Seattle all year, but I still managed to see and discover plenty of beauty outdoors. Here's a sampling of a northwest Washington year in photos.

After a shoulder injury on my first and only day skiing of the season, I began the first of many weekly plunges in Puget Sound in late January. While it's always a shock to hit that cold water, it also generates a sense of exhilarating euphoria. Cold water swimming can help you feel instantly more alive and energized.

The first plunge. Puget Sound.

Ah February. When we still went out for meals with friends outside our household, went to parties, and were just vaguely aware of a new virus in China. Early in the month, I went to Port Townsend and had a wonderful brunch while sitting across the table from my aunt and a friend. Looking back, it seems so carefree. 
Each February I go down to a park near my home to find the delicate snowdrops that bloom in the forest, an early sign of spring.
Snowdrops in Carkeek

And then it all hit the fan. Thus began a spring of long walks and bike rides exploring my corner of Seattle. I didn't leave the city or fill my car's gas tank for over 2 months. A good friend was parked in my guest room from November 2019 until June, so it was nice to have a companion to walk home with in the dark after some outstanding sunsets at sea's edge.

Salish Sea sunset, Olympic Mountains beyond

Unlike many, I actually lost weight in the first few months of the pandemic from all those walks, bike rides, and not eating out. A bike ride to see the sunrise on a chilly Easter morning was extra special.

Lake Union predawn
With May came the full lushness of a western Washington spring. Looking back at my hundreds of photos, I took almost daily walks down to a forested park near my home. It was a pleasure to see the forest unfurl and ripen with the richness of the season on a regular basis. There were also more sunset bike rides.

Golden Gardens sunset

Come June, we seemed to "flatten the curve" a bit, and I left Seattle for some hiking and drives for the first time since February. I must say, while it was good to drive less, it was also wonderful to do a "real" hike through a healthy forest in the Cascade foothills.
Mountains to Sound Greenway
With the fullness of summer, I pulled out my sea kayak for more kayaking than I've done in several years. Plus it's one of the best sports for distancing. Some friends and I had a brilliant day paddling to some small islands up in Skagit Bay.

Skagit Bay

It was wonderful getting out more than earlier in the year. Late August hiking with a friend and her daughter was another highlight.

Mt. Rainer in the distance from Mason Lake Trail

Our prime outdoors season was abruptly halted Labor Day with shockingly heavy wildfire smoke. Half the Northwest seemed to go up in flames at the same time. It was truly distressing. Things cleared up by the end of the month, and I enjoyed a brilliant fall hike with the Alpine Trails Book Club. We spent some time in the stretch of huckleberry shrubs packed with berries ready for picking.

Scarlet huckleberries in the foreground, Tonga Ridge 

I always say October is my favorite month. This year it lived up to that again, with some marvelous fall hikes over near Leavenworth and Ingalls Pass, farther east than I strayed all year.

Mt. Stuart

While Thanksgiving dinner was quiet and solo, a first, I got in some good long walks and hikes over the holiday weekend. This year, my connections with friends and family were all outside.

Mt. Si

As I write this, the month and year are almost over. It has been a tough holiday season without my usual events and connections. But I've done some nice hikes with friends. And there's always something indefinably clarifying and uplifting about a ferry ride across Puget Sound. 

Bainbridge ferry

So to wrap up, I'm still processing 2020. It was just too big to neatly tie up. Our world has shifted. 
Looking back, I really did get out a lot. Probably as much as any year from summer onward. The sea and mountains draw me out, as always.

How about you? Did you get outdoors more in 2020?

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons! In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBookTwitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news.