Welcome, dear reader, to Wandering Hops. Hiking is one of my major passions in life. In spring, after a long hard week spent over a keyboard, I turn my attention towards the mountains and hills of my home, and begin planning adventures.
While I was out this time, an idea dawned, why not do write ups of my adventures on the trail and post them on the website?
And thus, a new blogging segment is born. ^_^
I do hope you will enjoy reading. Comments are welcome and encouraged.
The day began bright and early at 11 AM. Now, I had planned, to be out on the trail by 9:00, however, no good plan survives first contact with reality. I did everything right; talked with my husband, Waggs, who graciously got up early on a Saturday to drop me off, set out my clothes and gear so I could move quickly, set my alarms, prepacked what I could and still, somehow, I lost two hours getting to the trail.
I suppose these things happen.
Even running late though, there was plenty of hours left in the day, extra food in the pack just in case, a liter of water, and hope springing eternal that it was going to be a good hike.
Spoiler alert… It wasn’t a good day for hiking.
It was an awesome day for hiking.
The Tarbell Trail is a twenty-four mile loop that starts way down in Battle Ground, Washington, which is a little ambitious for a day hike. However, if you start on Thrillium, which intersects with Tarbell, you can then follow it back to your origin point for a nice sevenish mile loop.
The views, are absolutely stunning, cell coverage is virtually non-existent, and the overall hiker traffic low.
There was just one problem.
I am not a mountain biker nor do I know much about mountain biking. You wouldn’t think this would matter much in hiking, but please… read on.
When one goes hiking. There is always research and paperwork involved before the hike. You need to know conditions, trail closures, all that fun stuff. There’s a lot of mental legwork that can go into it.
Now, you can just pull out your favorite app, pick a trail, and shout yeet (a word Maya is in love with) but that’s generally sub optimal. Trail conditions change, sometimes they close, and if you end up on one of those, you can end up meeting a displeased forest ranger.
Displeasing forest rangers is something I like to avoid, along with ending up in dangerous conditions, so, I prefer to do my research.
Somehow though, even after all of my checking, I started my day on the Thrillium trail.
The hike itself, was gorgeous, challenging, and a ton of fun. The wildflowers are currently in full bloom here in Washington, everything is verdant and green. Bumble bees are everywhere, clumsily making their way through the smorgasbord of flowers before them… in short, it’s a fine time to venture outdoors, but on Thrillium at least, there were a ton of mountain bikers.
Now, to the uninitiated this may not seem like much of a problem, or potentially dangerous, however, when you are hiking up a mountain, and a biker is coming down that very same mountain at about 20 mph, and there is only a foot and a half of trail width… well…one of us had to get out of the way, and trail rules along with my survival instincts said it was going to be me.
So, for much of my morning, it went something like this.
“Gee, that’s a beautiful vista. That’s Mt. St. Helens way off in the distance.” – Me.
Off in the distance, wheels can be heard, tearing down the trail at breakneck speeds, suddenly they appear, coming round the bend, I dive left.
And who said hiking isn’t exciting?
That being said, even with the challenges, it was a lovely hike, even though I had to make a slight alteration to course because part of the Tarbell Trail was down for maintenance.
Diverting down what I think is an abandoned Forest Service road (yay for GPS), I encountered some friendly mountain bikers, and found a spot where the entire valley was visible below me, with Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams dominating the horizon to the North. Conveniently there were two flat rocks there, near the edge, which seemed the perfect place to have lunch.
After that, the day settled down. I made my miles, picked up Tarbell, and began my descent down the mountain. As I got closer to completing my loop, the roar of water began to become more and more pronounced, until finally, I came across a rickety old bridge, with rapids churning beneath it.
It was an excellent last stop for the day before I made my way to the trailhead and waited for my long suffering husband to fetch me and bring me home.
I hope you enjoyed Wandering Hops! Be certain to visit next Tuesday for the newest installment!