Heaven is the Edges of a Bowl of Oatmeal: Week 1 & 2

It’s been a good start to our year-long adventure! Part of my goal with this challenge, is to take better care of myself, mostly meaning eating better (which btw is super hard because wine is a thing) along with the added exercise of hiking every weekend. The first change I made was trading out my morning hunt for anything edible, which typically ended with a poptart or bagel, for a bowl of old fashioned oats and blueberries, sweetened with honey. Yum.

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A few days ago, as I was sitting with a cat on my lap, enjoying the purple bowl of goodness,  and took a bite form the outer edge. Pure bliss! I was immediately transported back to childhood camping trips, and dewy, early mornings in the tent/camper backyard combo we lived in while my parents’ house was being remodeled. The edges of those bowls cannot be matched in the world of breakfast food. The sweetener collects here by some wonder of physics I have yet to understand, while the proximity to the bowl and surface of the oatmeal means it is the perfect temperature. This, added to the slightly warmed rice milk I pour over the top makes for culinary perfection!

Okay, so this is supposed to be about hiking right? Well yes, but something I am trying to make the most of with this challenge is the simple joy that comes with being outside. I spend 5 days a week either staring at a computer screen, or in a clinic with 1 window overlooking a parking lot and 1 overlooking a factory receiving center. So each hike is more than just a trek to the highest point, or a pretty view, it’s my chance to appreciate the light, sounds and smells of the outdoors. Something I don’t ever feel I get enough of.

 

– Week 1 –

We started our challenge with a small hike a mere 10 minutes from our house in the Big Gulch Trail System. With some meandering from trail to trail, we were able to squeeze in 4 miles, and a good hour outside.

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This was perfect for our first weekend! February is usually jam-packed for me and Bryce with multiple family birthdays, our anniversary, and this year some added weekend work for me, so we didn’t have a ton of time to spare this particularly day.  There are tons of access points, but we started on the North Fork at 92nd Street Park, and followed the West Fork as far as we could. The trail started with a quick drop down some stairs built into the hillside, and meandered up and down the bluff, getting thinner at points, but always comfortable. The trail was well taken care of, and most of the steep edges were reinforced, or had new railings. Of course, being February, the trail was mushy and muddy, but that’s what boots are for!

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I had hoped/assumed we could get to the beach, only to be met by this sign and a water treatment plant. Haha woops. Every time I have tried to follow a trail to the beach in the Everett area, there has always been some sort of barrier, (a derelict bridge closed for repairs, a 3 foot deep river flowing along the walkway) and I’ve decided it is just not meant to be!

Over all, I would definitely recommend this as an easy hike, or excuse to get outside, that’s super accessible if you’re in the area.
– Week 2 –

This week, my Dad-O joined us as we ventured a little further out to Lord Hill Park in Snohomish. I had no idea what to expect (or plan of where to go), just that there were trails and, evidently, a hill.

When we got to the parking lot, the place was packed. There was one spot left (thank goodness for me), and cars still pulling in. Once on the trail though, silence. In the two or so hours we were out there, we passed four or five groups, and most of that was in the last 10 minutes on the main trail to the parking lot. About 1/2 of the trails we ended up taking were not on the park map, and a smaller portion aren’t even on google maps. My best estimate is that we ended up going about 5.1 miles, which is pretty close to what my dad’s pedometer said too.

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We spent a fair bit of time looking at trees and lakes, and trying to figure out where exactly we were/wanted to go. We circumnavigated a pretty large lake that was neither pictured nor labeled on google maps, or the park map! (Secret Lake? Sure, it’s Secret Lake now.) Either way it was beautiful, and there was lots of wildlife making noise around it.

The trails were in great condition, and very recently worked on. We could see the evidence in trimmed ferns and underbrush, as well as new divots along the downhill edge of the trails for drainage.

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We started the day in snow, but as the morning matured the sun came out, and the light in the forest was astounding! The park was very diverse with ridges of deciduous trees, deep, green, mossy cedar groves, and everything in between. If you’re as excited by pointing at trees and rattling off their names as I am, this park is a great place for that!

Lord Hill is not only diverse in tree variety, but also in trail type. You could get a solid ten to twelve miles out of the place, with some switchbacks and steep grades, or you could follow the main trail for a mile or two and turn around. We saw families with small children, horses, neighbors out for a stroll, and young people going for serious treks, you just have to find the right trail for you!

 

All in all, the first two weeks are off to a great start, and I can’t wait to keep upping the mileage!

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