A New Normal

I have read some wonderful things in the past few days about coping strategies during this unprecedented time. Bless the writers, that’s what I say. 


And bless our furry little babies who sense something is not quite right and are just snuggling closer. Gus, comforter-in-chief. 


I’ve been trying to find my own way to contribute something positive and the weather just flipped a switch this week, which flipped one in me. I’m going to be getting out most every day because that was part of the plan for me anyway, but now I’m going to move forward with a little different purpose. 


For the next few weeks I’ll post to my blog as often as I can about the different state parks and National refuge areas I’ve visited. If I hike there, or anywhere, I’ll share that too. If I visit a place I love, you’ll hear about it. If I visit a place I don’t love, you’ll hear about that too. I’ll give you some helpful hints and share some (okay, a lot of) photos. If you’ve heard about a place or are wondering about somewhere specific, let me check it out for you !

Today my plan was to visit another National Wildlife Refuge. I’ve shared a lot about Nisqually, and more recently, Steigerwald Lake, but today was a new-to-me place in Ridgefield Washington. It’s a two hour drive from Auburn. I arrived to an empty parking lot at around 8 am. There are pit toilets that were as clean as those things can be and actually stocked with tp and hand sanitizer.


There is a $3.00 fee unless you have a National Parks or Refuge annual pass. The $3.00 is per vehicle and probably pays for the TP and sanitizer 😊


This is good for all ages and fairly accessible for most. Paved and gravel walks as well as dirt paths. Pictures are below. Feel free to ask about whatever I may have forgotten. 

My next stop was Paradise Point state park. I love our state parks but this one won’t likely get a second visit from me. It’s below an I-5 N bridge and it’s loud ! I didn’t walk the trail, but I drove through the picnic and camping areas. Nope. Not for me.

 

From there I was heading back toward home until I caught a glimpse of Mount St Helens. She was covered in snow and the sky was bathed in blue. How could I not go ? 


It’s a really beautiful drive and all day I only saw a handful of cars. It it bare and dry on the road all the way to Coldwater Lake. I walked the short loop that begins behind the (open and stocked) bathrooms. Gorgeous ! It’s a good one for the littles, although there were some snow and ice spots on the walk around. Sun this week should clear that up. 


The hike around the lake is 11 miles, but if what I saw near the boat launch is any indication of it’s condition, this might be a good option too. It’s not an easy 11 miles, but it is just gorgeous ! Maybe good for older kids. 


Next I drove to the Hummocks trailhead. This is either the gateway to the West Boundary trail to Johnston Ridge Observatory or a 2.5 mile loop through the hummocks area. I’ve done the West Boundary trail a few times and will return soon to do it again, but today I finally did that loop trail. Wow !! I loved it. It looks like you can download some instructive materials for your younger and older kids. This one is education and hike in one beautiful walk. The recovery of this area is amazing and this trail is a striking example of the subtle changes taking place. 


It’s a “1” on a scale of 1-4 (Easy to difficult), but it is muddy in spots and there are three places where the trail is submerged and you’ll need to gingerly step around. What a cool trail. This one seems perfect for the whole family. A change of shoes is a good idea. 


The mountain is just stunning right now and the hikes and walks are pretty quiet. The road to the big visitor center at Johnston Ridge is gated closed for the season. Seems last year it opened just ahead of the anniversay, and this year is a big one. Great time to check out this area ! The 40th Anniversary of the eruption is May 18th. I wonder if this coronavirus will affect that ? 

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