For me and most of my friends, who can no longer be called young by any stretch of any imagination, life in the time of SARS-COVID 19 is still more tamped down than the "before times." We had a brief few months of semi-euphoria in the late spring and summer after vaccination.
And then came delta, followed by pesky little sister omicron.
But I'm not here to write about the pandemic. I'm here to share a year in photos and a few videos of my special corner of the world, which I haven't left since late 2019. Please join me!
January: Into the Woods
To be honest, most of my year was into the woods. But for January's sake, we'll start with several trips cross-country skiing the lovely forested trails at Cabin Creek, a few miles east of Snoqualmie Pass (which is southeast of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains). This gem of a trail system, tucked against the side of Amabilis Mountain (which I've skied up and down too), provides an excellent workout in as little as an hour or as long as you want to keep skating and gliding or tramping.
February: Across the Sea
...and the day was topped with one of the most gorgeous sunsets over the Salish Sea I witnessed all year.
|Kayaks and standup paddleboards do mix! Eastsound, Washington.
June: Up and Down the Region
Family moved front and center in June and cousins were up visiting from California, so there were trips to the Portland area and Port Townsend. I booked (and my sneaky aunt called and paid my bill) an overnight at the historic and charming Palace Hotel in Port Townsend. I also joined my cousin's wife for a swim in the sea there too.
|Can you say charming street front? Palace Hotel in Port Townsend, Washington.
I guess I must mention the unprecedented heat dome we experienced late in the month. The only respite was walks in a nearby forest, where the temperature dropped at least 10 degrees as soon as you entered. This says something about the value and necessity of saving our urban trees and woodlands.
July: Honoring and Revisiting
A super busy work period kept me inside a lot, but I did get down to Portland for time with family and old friends, in light of a loss. I watched a beautiful sunset on a warm summer evening with friends on Rocky Butte and was up and out before sunrise for a lovely hike in the Columbia Gorge with some other friends. The Portland area will always be as equally home to me as Seattle.
In preparation for a backpacking trip in early September, I hit the trail more in August (and work died down). Highlights were a hike up to the Tolmie Peak fire lookout in Mt. Rainier National Park with the Alpine Trails book club (on a day smoky from regional wildfires), a morning hike to Wallace Falls just outside Index, and the grind up and down McClellan Butte in the I-90 corridor east of Seattle. With poor visibility and prudence, we did not do the rock scramble to the true summit.
October: Back into the Woods, Water, and Mountains
Yes, this Northwesterner's life involves lots of time in the woods and mountains. There was also a sweet afternoon kayak trip on the Sammamish River and Swamp Creek in a splendid Pacific Northwest rain (video below), a wonderful hike to Lake Valhalla, and an overnight at Sleeping Lady near Leavenworth, where the fall colors were cranking up.
|Lake Valhalla and Mt. Lichtenberg beyond.
November: Stalking Mushrooms
Actually I got out with a friend in September to forage for chanterelles, but in November the hunt is with cameras in hand to shoot them. They're easy to miss if you're not looking in the right places, but this downed log on a side trail near my home was wild with mushrooms. I'm still learning, so I can't name this variety, can you?
This year with vaccines, boosters, and testing, it has been wonderful to gather with family and friends in person for the holidays. After another quick trip to Port Townsend, the snow arrived in full force the day after Christmas (thank you weather gods for sending the snow a day late and sparing us from snow driving that's so problematic around Seattle with our many hills).