Each year, when daylight hours start to dwindle and the temperature hovers around freezing, an excitement builds around the Pacific Northwest. As newscasters pretext not whip us into a frenzy over incoming winter weather conditions, the freezing level starts falling toward sea-level, raising our expectations for a chance to experience a winter wonderland. When it snows in the Pacific Northwest, our normal world full of endless green transforms, wrapping itself in a silent blanket of white. The first winter snowfall on our favorite trails leads us into an unexpected wonderland, inspiring snowy adventures in what no feels like a foreign landscape.
With Christmas approaching, one of Washington’s cash crops is quickly being harvested and is getting sent around the globe. The Pacific Northwest Christmas Tree Association boasts that Christmas tree sales bring $35 million to the state’s economy, making The Evergreen State the fifth largest Christmas tree producer in the nation. Over 2.3 million trees in Washington are cut down each year for Christmas celebrations around the world, with 90% of production going out of state, the majority to California and Mexico. Many of the trees come from Thurston, Mason and Lewis Counties, which means that around the South Sound, we have some of the best Christmas trees in the world.
On Black Friday 2016, when many will be shopping indoors, nature lovers of all ages and abilities will be having a whale of time in Tacoma, Washington. Starting at 11am at Owen Beach along Five Mile Drive and Point Defiance Park, whaling enthusiasts will be gathering to hear from local whale watchers and possibly see some of them as they swim near the shore. Choosing to #OptOutside in the Pacific Northwest, we have many unique opportunities. This event in Tacoma is yet another example of why living in Washington State is so incredible.
In the midst of election season, after record rainfall this October, living in the Pacific Northwest can make anyone feel down.
Fear not- remember that there’s always sun after the rain.
Inspired by the famous children’s book ‘Frederick – the Mouse‘, here are some of our most sunniest photos of 2016, helping us remember the good times.
At the base of an 82 foot waterfall, hundreds of salmon congregate together, all with the same goal. Their lives have been spent swimming from freshwater to salt water and back, cruising around in the Pacific, trying their best to avoiding predators and fishermen. They dodged seals and orcas, nets and rising acidity in the water, only to be stumped by the massive size and scale of Tumwater Falls. They gather at the base, smelling their ancestral home in the freshwater pouring down the rocks, eager to figure out a way to get home and complete their life’s mission.
Weaving around a gravel Forest Service Road, I began to wonder if I would ever reach my destination. I was high above sea level, working my way up one of the thousands of peaks that make up the Rocky Mountains of Montana, excited to see the swanky digs that I would be enjoying for the night. Normally, I make the drive from Yellowstone to the Puget Sound region in a day, but on this trip, I needed something special to end my incredible vacation. I needed a memorable way to officially end summer, something that I could look back on fondly and fully enjoy the start of the cooler weather. Thanks to recreation.gov, I found a fire lookout in the Lolo National Forest that I could stay at, in the middle of grizzly country, for just $30 a night.
The dog days of summer are finally here!!
More often than not, our friends around the Olympic Peninsula have amazing stories to share with The Outdoor Society. They inspire us, encourage us to try new things and help remind us that there are millions of possible recreation activities and destinations to enjoy around the region. Recently, we reached out to our good friends at Blue Horizons Paddlesports and asked for an update on the stunning scenes along the waters of Hood Canal and Lake Cushman. Below is a quick, and hopefully weekly, report on the highlights of paddling in the area, as well as some pictures that will hopefully have you heading out and paddling with these awesome folks.
There are plenty of incredible races just outside our doorsteps to keep us busy and entertained for years. A couple of weeks ago, I highlighted some of the most amazing trail races in my home of the Pacific Northwest. Participating in a trail race in Europe feels far away, and certainly a thing for dreams, bucket lists, and once-in-a-lifetime vacation plans; it is also a great way of experiencing this region in a very unique way. The Alps, in the heart of Europe, host many fabled trail races in some of the most iconic mountain locations in the world. UTMB is the grand daddy of all trail races. Beginning and ending in Chamonix, while circumnavigating Mont Blanc, it is definitely the most coveted of them all, but there are plenty others.
There is this trail, in a magnificent valley in the one-of-a-kind Olympic National Park, where amazing adventures can be had. On the Hood Canal side of Olympic National Park, the Dosewallips River Valley sits, ready to explore. In early 2016, The Outdoor Society Trail Running Adventure Crew decided to head out on an adventure in to the snowy wonderland and the base of the stunning Olympic Mountains.
No one knows whether death, which is feared to be the greatest evil, may not be the greatest good
In 2015, four million visitors flocked to Yellowstone National Park. They took a road trip to the park because the name “Yellowstone” has become more that just a section of land set aside by the government. It has become an icon of nature, a symbol of wonder, wilderness, and one of the crown jewels of the National Park System.
Discovering peaks deep in the Olympic Wilderness
For several month now, I’ve been sitting on this story.
I’ve not been talking about this trip much, and neither has Doug, because, well it didn’t go as well as we would have liked.
On one of our first trips in 2015, Doug and I headed out to see if we could grab a peak very early in the season. The weather wasn’t great, and we didn’t get a ton of awesome pictures, but that wasn’t the reason we didn’t write about it. The real reason was, that we descended down the wrong ravine and ended up having to bushwhack ourselves back to the trail. To this day, we still have scars on our legs to remind us about it, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
I stood nervously on a rock, adjusting my camera settings while trying to remain balanced. The roar of the river drowned out my thoughts and I was almost unable to think. Before me, a churning, nasty, powerful river raced downstream, tossing logs and moving boulders with the greatest of ease. A few months earlier, this had been a lazy river, barely trickling past boulders and full of swimmers and waders. Now covered by three feet of muddy waters, North Fork of the Skokomish raged, full of anger, excitement and energy. The first major rain event of the fall had arrived and the North Fork of Skokomish in Olympic National Park was rejoicing.
A few weeks ago, I very much enjoyed my trip to Lake Crescent Lodge and you really enjoyed reading the review of my dinner on that glorious sunny evening.
So, last weekend we found ourselves at Mount Rainer National Park. The sun was setting and my family’s collective tummies were rumbling. We had to make a choice. We could drive out of the park, find a fast food joint along the route back home in Eatonville/Yelm or enjoy the park for a few hours longer and stop at Paradise Inn for one last time this season and get a taste of the mountain. With the sun slowly setting basking the lodge in a warm glow, this was an easy decision to make.
Ninety minutes from downtown Olympia, a wilderness destination sits patiently waiting for visitors. During the summer months, the Staircase Region of Olympic National Park see’s over a hundred thousand visitors. Yet, when the leaves become orange and the days grow shorter, the crowds stay away. It is during the fall months that Staircase becomes even more magical, transforming an already gorgeous region into an enchanted wonderland of beauty, wilderness and nature.
As I am writing this, the sun is shining and the thermometer is flirting with the Seventies. It’s late September. My morning runs are starting to feel chilly. Fall is here. This means time is running out to visit the mountains without winter gear, crampons or snowshoes.
Last Saturday, Doug and I set off on a epic adventure to Mt. Gladys. The return route required us to bushwhack a traverse via the high country, over to the Black and White Lakes and once again meeting the trail where we headed back.
Olympia doesn’t have a great reputation around the state. From Spokane to Bellingham, and Vancouver to Ocean Shores, the capitol of Washington State is known mostly for politics and a somewhat drab downtown scene. Outsiders might quickly stop by on trips to more exotic locations, but for most, Olympia is skipped over. Even locals avoid downtown Olympia, but those who decide to skip this small town at the southern end of the Puget Sound are missing a spectacular annual event. At the end of August and first few weeks of September, the waters around Olympia become full of salmon, migrating home to spawn and die. While this event happens in most cities around the state, Olympia is one of the few that offers a stunning viewing area where you can watch salmon, seals and the tides, all from an overlook above the water.
We usually review trails on The Outdoor Society. The trips we share involve muddy boots and dusty backpacks. We tend to celebrate the wild part of the outdoors.