Winter felt unceasing this year, which is remarkable since in January I didn’t want winter to end. But by March, snowshoeing and snowboarding lost their charm; I didn’t want to spend more time in the cold snow, considering the rains and cold temperatures refused to cease in the lowlands. I craved warmth and sunshine and the hints of it throughout March made me only want it more. This past weekend, we finally were able to embrace a break in the rain and enjoy our first hike of spring.
The Cascades still team with up to 100 inches of snow in the passes, so hiking some of our favorite areas is currently out of the question. We certainly could hike them, as we have microspikes and snowshoes, but we don’t necessarily want to spend more time in the snow, at least this past weekend. If the sun was shining and the temperatures were in the 50s, we wanted to take advantage of them!
Ryan and I chose a hike in the Bellingham area, at a small state park. The draw of the location – along with the sunshine and no snow – were the views of the San Juan Islands and the saltwater beaches. I love Pacific Northwest beaches, mostly because I dislike the pervasive nature of sand.
We began our hike around noon, since we had attended Palm Sunday church and then Ryan went for a run before we embarked on the 75 minute drive. Normally, this would be a late start for us, but we had no goals of distance – we simply wanted to spend time outside.
We hiked only 2.5 miles, since Ollie is still in the prolonged puppyhood that is so characteristic of Labs. We are trying to train him not to pull on a leash, which requires frequent stops and training breaks. We’ve made improvements on running, but he still pulls on walks – and pulls excessively on hikes. If we want to do longer hikes with him in the summer, he needs to learn how to behave on a leash on a hike now. We want to keep him on a leash – it’s common courtesy to other hikers, especially since Ollie also loves to give random strangers hugs and kisses, and the last time he was off-leash on a hike, he zoomed far off-trail in pursuit of a squirrel.
Ollie also has a new backpack for hiking, which is the cutest thing ever. He carried water, their bowl, puppy snacks, and my gloves and was very serious about his task – that’s the Australian Cattle Dog in him! I’m probably too excited about his backpack, but it’s just so adorable on him.
The hike itself wasn’t exceptionally steep or stunning, but the smell of the woods and the vibrancy of the foliage were a treat as always. The sky was clear enough that the sun peaked through even the canopy of the trees. Those of you who live in the Pacific Northwest understand just how exciting it is to have sunny days after winter, especially an exceptionally rainy winter.
Our hike brought us to a viewpoint overlooking the Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. We ate our lunches there and spend some time just gazing out on the ocean. The views made the short hike – which required just as much driving and preparation time as we were out hiking for – well worth it.
Then, it was time to hike back down and head to the beach!
Our time at the beach was borderline comical: Charlie cried his little monkey noises at each wave while Ollie attempted to drink the salt water. Since we adopted Ollie almost 7 months ago, we have been attempting to get him to play in the water – after all, he is part Lab. We linked his leash and Charlie’s leash as a long tether and threw a stick out for him – and finally, Ollie discovered his love for the water. He then proceeded to play more in the water, retrieve driftwood, and attempt to catch a seagull.
After such a rainy and cold winter, this first hike of spring was exactly what both Ryan and I needed: sunshine, fresh air, saltwater, and leisurely time spent outside.
Do you prefer mountains or the beach?
What’s your favorite way to celebrate the start of spring?