Hello, Deception Pass State Park in Oak Harbor, Washington

I used to go to the Seattle Metropolitan Area relatively frequently because a member of Tempo‘s executive team used to live up there, so I would visit her for work and for fun, and it was also a good way to visit some other friends while I was in the area. However, since her move out-of-state, the “kill two avians with one stone” concept didn’t work when it came to threading in a free personal trip while I was already in town for work, so I haven’t been go­ing as frequently.

This past week, I decided to take a trip to Seattle anyway. One of the places I toured was Deception Pass State Park, a Washington state park in Oak Har­bor. It actually reminded me a lot of my prior visit over one year ago to the Larrabee State Park, but Deception Pass was brighter and had much more water.

After a very brief stop at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mount Vernon on our way there, we drove to the Deception Pass State Park Administration Offices to purchase a pass (upon which we found out were actually sold elsewhere, at the Entrance Station). We eventually made our way to the North and West Beach Parking Lot at the state park and started our hike on Pacific Northwest Trail.

From the trail, we were able to see the bridge in the distance.

We continued all the way down Pacific NW Trail up to its intersection at Washington State Route 20, where we were able to get a direct view of the un­der­side of the bridge.

After crossing over to the other side, we connected onto Goose Rock Perimeter Trail. After continuing eastbound, we found an interesting sight—a house on top of a rock on Ben Ure Island.

Continuing on the perimeter trail, we made it towards the bottom where we got some nice views of the Deception Pass Marina, Cornet Bay, and the Cor­net Bay County Park.

Here is a random very fuzzy tree.

Goose Rock Perimeter Trail eventually turned into Goose Rock Summit Trail. After some switchbacks and a lot of elevation gain, we made it to a spot where I got a nice view of Deception Island in the background and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in the far distance.

Here are some photos of me at Goose Rock Summit.

Fun fact, I didn’t bring enough t-shirts in my luggage, so the shirt I’m wearing was actually the shirt I was using as my pajama shirt for the prior 4 days.

Because the variant of Goose Rock Trail we took was a loop, we made it back to the intersection at Washington State Route 20. We decided to climb up the stairs onto the bridge and do a down-and-back to take in some of the nice views of Pass Island and the actual “pass” portion of Deception Pass.

Here is a random humongous spider web that I found stretched across some branches on our way back to the parking lot.

And finally, here is one of the last photos I took as we were retracing our steps westbound on Pacific Northwest Trail. I believe this is of the North Beach at Macs Cove, close to the Scenic Vista Parking Lot.

Overall, our hike clocked in at 5.36 miles (8.63 kilometers) and took a little over three hours (though I believe that includes breaks, chatting with other hikers, and snacking at the summit). My elevation gain on my fitness tracker wasn’t fully accurate because I was also taking the stairs up and down my hotel that day, but my hiking companion’s fitness tracker said our climb was right around 103 stories in height.

I haven’t been on a good, long hike in a while, so this was a very pleasant and refreshing experience. Apparently Deception Pass is the most popular state park in Washington, and based on my experience, it definitely made sense why.

If you like boating or camping, Deception Pass can be a great multi-day trip, but if you’re more of a hiker and beach-goer, I think this state park is just big enough that you can head over in the morning, fill the day with activities, and return in the evening.




Hello, Henry Cook Lookout Point via Stough Canyon in Burbank, California

During my previous trip to Hollywood-Burbank (during which I met a few cats and a goldfish), I arrived one day earlier than my planned festivities, not only because I like to have one buffer day for travel, but also because I wanted to go hiking in the Verdugo Mountains.

For those of you who know my friend Doug Wreden, you probably know how that went… rather than hiking, I instead got intercepted by Doug as I was about to walk into my hotel. I ended up taking part in one of his Twitch live streams where we went to ten fast food restaurants and did the “I’ll have what he’s having” challenge, wherein we re-order and try to finish anything and everything the previous drive-through customer purchases. Needless to say, the challenge took a very long time, and I did not have another opportunity to go hiking before departing SoCal.

That was a week and a half ago. I am in SoCal again now for unrelated reasons, and I decided this was a good chance to try that hiking trip again.

I hopped in my rental car (which, with great misfortune, ended up being a very small and uncomfortable Ford Mustang sedan instead of a pickup truck like I usually drive, because pickup trucks were about US$50/day more expensive), and drove up to the Stough Canyon Nature Center. From there, I got on Stough Canyon Mountain Way and started working my way up.

I headed over to hike after I landed from my afternoon flight and had already stopped by the hotel to check in, so it was already approaching sunset time by the time I made it to the trail. This had an interesting effect on the scenery, in that some areas were brightly illuminated and some were covered in dark shade, while others still had a mixture of both where the vegetation was casting long, sharp shadows on the ground.

As I got close to the summit, I connected onto Old Youth Camp Trail, then finally reached Overlook Trail all the way up to the Henry Cook Lookout Point. This opened up sweeping 180° views of the San Fernando Valley, Glendale, and the Los Angeles city skyline.

There was quite a bit of smog obstructing the view, which you’d expect from Los Angeles County, but overall, this was a very rewarding view relative to the ease of completing this very short hike.

I also met a very friendly lizard at the top.

I started my tracker a little bit late, so the distance on my map is a little short, but my GPS said the hike was 1.23 miles, or almost exactly 2 kilometers. The elevation gain was approximately 360 feet, or 110 meters.

I haven’t really been on a good hike for months, and I don’t think this even counts as a proper hike considering how short and easy it was, but it was nice to get out and exercise outdoors again, instead of on workout machines indoors in a gym.




Hello, Wind Wolves Preserve in Kern County, California

There’s been an insane amount of inclement weather in California lately. It’s been raining a lot at the Tempo headquarters where I’ve temporarily set up my home base, I’ve heard that the California mountains have gotten literally several feet of snow, and I just barely missed the San Francisco Bay Area flood­ing really badly before my trip to Oakland.

The last time there was this much precipitation, there was a superbloom, which is a phenomenon where a ton of flowers bloom at the same time, es­pe­cial­ly from seeds that laid dormant for a while. In hopes of seeing one of these superblooms for myself in-person, as well as to visit a friend in the area who is planning on moving tentatively permanently to Puerto Rico, I made a quick trip an hour and a half north of Greater Los Angeles into Kern Coun­ty.

After entering the Wind Wolves Preserve, we followed some signs and drove over to the Crossing Campground and went on a short hike.

This campground had an unusually fancy bathroom.

We got to the end of the trail, where we got a nice view of Bakersfield to the north.

In this area of the preserve, we did see some open fields, but they weren’t covered with wildflowers—there were just a few flowering bushes along the sides.

We ventured over to a different area in hopes of having better luck, which we sort of did. Unfortunately, my timing was a little bit off—it did look like there were a lot of flowers blossoming out in the fields, but they weren’t quite at full size. According to Google Maps, this area is usually pretty barren, so I guess it is good news that there was even a lush field of grass at all, let alone any flowers.

Although rare, one of the perks of doing things together with a friend is that I get to post pictures of myself too, rather than just photos exclusively of things around me.

Adam Parkzer holding a camera after taking a photograph

I wouldn’t say this was a particularly successful trip, but it wasn’t a complete failure either.

As a consolation prize, here are a bunch of cows that were ex­tremely confused why I got very excited and parked my truck on the side of the road to take a picture of them.




Hello, Heughs Canyon and Bonneville Shoreline Trails in Holladay, Utah

I had a small internal conflict about whether I should publish this blog post and these photos or not, because when I went hiking at this trail, I forgot my regular camera so I just snapped some quick shots from my phone.

What is extra problematic for me is that the views from this trail were actually pretty amazing, so not only does my phone not produce high-quality photo­graphs, but it doubly does not give the trail justice because of how vast and sweeping the real views were.

Ultimately, I decided to just post these anyway because I didn’t want to fall into the trap of content creators striving too much for perfection and being too hard on themselves. The entire point of my blog is supposed to be for me to leave a trail of memories to look back at, and this will still definitely serve that purpose.

The trailhead for the Heughs Canyon Trail is inside Canyon Cove, a wealthy neighborhood in Holladay, Utah. The “parking lot” for the trail is at the out­side of the subdivision and was just a short row of angled street parking spaces, but as I approached it, I didn’t notice it at first. I was driving too quickly and didn’t have enough space to slow down to get into a spot, so I just continued on into the neighborhood.

There were a lot of areas in the neighborhood that had “No Parking” signs, but I managed to find a clear area close to the trailhead, on Oak Canyon Drive. I’m not sure why, but there were three Greater Salt Lake Unified Police Department SUVs parked there in a row, so I just parked right alongside them in an effort to blend in and pretend like I belonged. That ended up working, because by the time I finished my hike and got back to my truck, I didn’t have a parking ticket.

Being able to park here was actually a pretty big deal, because the neighborhood is built on a hill and it would’ve added an extra 100 feet or so of el­e­va­tion gain and about half a mile round-trip onto my hike. This way, I was able to save my energy for the actual hike, as opposed to just walking to the trail­head.

The beginning of the trail was basically just a straight shot deeper into the mountains via a narrow valley. This area was heavily shaded from the sun, so a lot of areas still had snow coverage, and some areas were even icy.

A little under a mile into the hike, I had an option of continuing deeper on Heughs Canyon Trail, but I instead took a switchback and connected onto Bonneville Shoreline Trail. I’m not really quite sure why it is called a “shoreline” trail; the elevation here was over a mile above sea level and about a thousand feet above the rest of Holladay, so if the water level rose that much, then I guess it could’ve technically been a path along the shoreline.

After making that switchback, I started seeing the amazing views into the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.

I continued on along the trail, which progressively opened up better and better views of the city. Again, I’m disappointed that I only had my phone to take photos because its optical zoom is highly limited (as you can tell) and anything above its optical zoom limit is just digital zoom, so you can’t really pick up much detail of the cities and mountains.

Part-way through my hike, I entered the Mount Olympus Wilderness, part of the Wasatch National Forest.

The trail slightly curved along the mountainside, so as I continued to walk, it progressively opened up slightly new angles of perspective of the view of the city.

I loved that there was some very low haze coverage on this day, presumably of some thicker mist or moisture. It created a narrow layer of white above the horizon, but the skies were still clear, so the tips of the mountains to the west still stuck out above the haze, which made for a very interesting sight.

Once I reached the intersection with Mount Olympus Trail, I retraced my steps back and returned to my truck.

My round-trip hike ended up being a little bit over 4 miles (which is just over 6.5 kilometers). I didn’t have a working altimeter so I don’t know for sure, but based on the topographical map, it appears like my total elevation gain for the hike was about 900 feet (or about 275 meters).




Hello, Table Rock in Boise, Idaho

For my first hike in Boise, Idaho, I selected Table Rock. The trailhead was right next to the Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site that I had just visited, so I headed back over there to the East End neighborhood.

There are multiple paths leading up to Table Rock, so I decided to hike in a figure-8 so I could hit as many of the trails as possible. On the route up, I started at the Old Penitentiary Trailhead and worked my way up Old Penitentiary Trail. It was pretty muddy, but still manageable.

As I ascended in elevation and got closer to the Y-intersection with Table Rock Trail, there were some nice views towards the northwest and southwest.

After passing the intersection of Table Rock Loop and continuing on Table Rock Trail, I made it up to the summit. At the top, there was a cross, as well as a placard explaining the story behind the fixture.

Apparently, it had originally been a source of controversy due to it being a religious symbol displayed on government land. Because the claims of the separation of church and state were valid, the Idaho State Land Board decided to auction off the land housing the symbol to a private party.

That wasn’t enough for some activists, as they perceived this to simply be a loophole solution, so they litigated. First they tried to block the auction, and then later tried to nullify the sale, but both attempts were not successful. Furthermore, around the same time, there was overwhelming public support for keeping the cross. Eventually, the activists gave up, because they realized this would just be an uphill battle.

From the summit, there was a nice view of downtown Boise…

… as well as of the less-populated suburban areas.

As I’ve come to see relatively frequently from hikes like this, Table Rock also had some radio towers at the top. I’m not an expert on communications equipment, but I think those towers with the white semi-cylinders might be 5G transmitters.

Also at the top, there was quite a bit of graffiti on the structures surrounding the radio towers. A lot of the graffiti were just markings and symbols, but there were also some nice mural art pieces as well.

I kept walking past everything and made my way to a clearing that showed a nice view of the scattered homes and mountains towards the northeast.

After taking in all the sights, I started walking southeast on East Table Rock Road, which seemed like it was a road that had originally been designed for motor vehicle traffic but has since been blocked off. At first, I didn’t see where the road connected back onto Table Rock Loop, so I walked over a barrier and kept proceeding on the road… until I saw signs stating that I was entering a federally-regulated mine and that trespassing was prohibited.

After retracing my steps, I found the proper walking trail and continued through the most treacherous part of my hike. Because this side of the mountain was shaded from the sun, there was still a lot of snow and ice obscuring and covering the trail. That, mixed with a lot of elevation change in a short dis­tance and cliffs with sharp drops, and I had to tread carefully as to not go plummeting to my death.

After managing to complete that portion alive, I connected onto Table Rock Quarry Trail, which was my favorite part of the hike. As you’d expect from the word “quarry” in the name of the trail, this area was very rocky and terraneous. There were huge rock formations engulfing the northern side of the path, making for a very interesting experience.

On this path, I also came across a small structure nestled inside the ground. I’m not sure what it is or how it got there, but I decided it was interesting enough to snap a photo.

On the south side, there were unobstructed views of Warm Springs Mesa, which appeared to be an affluent neighborhood off East Warm Springs Av­e­nue.

On my way down, I continued descending on Table Rock Trail instead of going on Old Penitentiary Trail at the Y-intersection like when I came up.

Overall, my hike was 4.26 miles (6.86 kilometers) and had an elevation gain of about 880 feet (268 meters).

While I was ascending, the weather was in an awkward spot where I was sweating under my winter coat, but it was still too cold and windy to take it off (though this problem went away after I had reached the summit and while I was descending). If you’re in Boise and are fit enough for this hike, I definitely recommend it—I found it to be very refreshing, and because of the shape of Table Rock, it allows for sweeping, panoramic views in all di­rec­tions if you walk around in a circle.




Hello, Sacajawea Historical State Park in Pasco, Washington

I’m not really much of a holiday person, so I didn’t really have much of an interest in doing anything special for Halloween, but when I was browsing Google Maps, I noticed a place called “Haunted Forest at Sacajawea State Park.” I figured that, even if I don’t want to go out of my way to celebrate Halloween, this is still a good spot to stop by. It’s in a state park so I can go hiking there, and I already have a Discover Pass for Washington State Parks so I can go for free and get more value out of my purchase prior to departing Washington.

When I arrived and drove deeper into the state park to the parking lot, I went through a lot of autumn foliage. Having spent most of my autumns from the past few years in areas that don’t have trees that undergo the autumn leaf color phenomenon (yes, I just looked it up, and that is apparently literally the scientific name for it), it was nostalgic seeing so many orange leaves everywhere like I did when I used to live in Illinois and Wisconsin.

From the parking lot, I walked east towards a structure I saw in the distance. It ended up just being a sheltered picnic area.

I followed a path behind the picnic area and walked alongside the shoreline. Far in the distance, I saw a bridge over the Columbia River with train tracks that connected Finley to Burbank.

Farther down south, I saw an opening that let me get very close to the Snake River, so I climbed all the way down to snap a photo from a different angle.

After making my way back up, I saw another building, which I found out was the Sacajawea State Park Interpretive Center. It was a fairly traditional mu­se­um with some relics on display and a lot of text accompanying them. There was no extra fee for admission—it was included in my Discover Pass.

It was now time to find the Haunted Forest. After leaving the Interpretive Center, I kept walking north past the parking lot and found a trail that led first to a smaller pond that connected into the Snake River…

… and then a couple of tipis that were untented and just had the wooden sticks.

From here, the path continued further north, but the Haunted Forest was to the west. I looked around trying to find out how to get to the Haunted For­est, but all I could see was sparse vegetation and an empty field. At this point, I realized that I had probably made a mistake—there wasn’t an actual haunt­ed forest there, but rather, it was just a special event. Upon taking a second look at the Google Maps reviews, I realized that it might have been an annual seasonal event that has since been canceled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and hasn’t returned yet.

I probably would’ve been disappointed if I had come here just for the haunted forest, but luckily, I was enjoying my walk, so I continued on the trail. In the northeastern part of the path prior to the loop back around to the west, there was a clearing where I again was able to climb very close to the Snake River and take a nice photo of another train track bridge, this time connecting Pasco to Burbank.

As I looped around the bend and made my way across the northern side of the trail, there was a point where I originally snapped a photo and didn’t think much of it at first, but after I saw it again on my computer, I liked its aesthetic. It is a row of power lines extending into the distance with a faint row of windmills dotting the horizon.

This northern stretch of the trail was a lot more rugged and started to get a little bit overgrown. It was also an amusing sight to see when I came across what appeared to be mounds upon mounds of tumbleweed that I imagine had somehow rolled their way onto the side of this foot path and gotten lodged among the trees.

Eventually, the hiking trail ended and connected back onto Sacajawea Park Road, the auto road leading from U.S. Route 12 all the way to the parking lot. I walked the final semi-circle on the rocky shoulder of the road, and at one point near an intersection with a bike path, I was able to get somewhat of a view of Indian Island.

Eventually, I made my way back to the parking lot.

In total, my GPS tracker said my walk was 2.68 miles (4.31 kilometers), though I am guessing that it might be marginally higher than that because I left it going while I was walking around the museum and it tends not to capture movement as accurately when I am inside a building.

I wouldn’t say this state park is anywhere near impressive, especially if you’re not going for boating or picnicking, but if you already have a Discover Pass and don’t have to pay the $10 admission fee, then it’s still a nice place to go for a walk. Even though I went on a Sunday, it was still pretty empty, and most of the few other people who I saw around were also just going for leisurely walks with their families and/or pets.