Hello, Spencer Island near Everett in Snohomish County, Washington

While spending a bit more time in Everett, Washington, I decided to go for a hike on Spencer Island.

I picked Spencer Island because I enjoyed my hike on Jetty Island, but after going a bit deeper into Spencer Island, I realized that it was pretty different. It wasn’t quite as visually appealing as Jetty Island, and it was more like a swampy marsh than a pleasant hike.

I took the north-south path on the western side of the island at first, which was mostly clear. There were some tighter squeezes once in a while with some thorny bushes on either side, but I managed to make it to the end of the path relatively unscathed.

At the edge of the path was a nice view of Union Slough and the water branching in from the stream.

After retracing my steps back near the entrance, I started on the east-west path and made it to the opposite side, again overlooking the water. At the in­ter­secting point of the east-west path and the eastern north-south path, there was a bench.

On the bench, I found a rock painted in candy corn colors with a sticker that read “If found, please post on #HideTucsonRocks – Kindness Rock Project Tucson.” I found it amusing that this rock was in Snohomish County, Washington, over 1,200 miles away from Tucson, Arizona.

The east-west trail had some pretty overgrown areas, but it was worth it to see the views from the bridges.

However, beyond the bench containing the kindness rock and further south towards the southern tip, the path was completely consumed by bushes with sharp thorns, and it was not realistic to continue. Apparently the county didn’t have the resources to continue maintaining the walking trails on the island for a handful of years now, so nature ran its course and swallowed a lot of the trails. The county is still actively looking for volunteers to help prune some of the vegetation, but from the looks of it, they haven’t been having much success finding anyone.

I’m fairly adventurous and am willing to step fairly far out of my comfort zone to go exploring and experience new things, but it was just unrealistic to keep trying, and I was dealing noticeable damage to my arms and legs, so I turned around and went back.

On my way back on the eastern shore of Spencer Island, I saw a crashed ship carrying a crane truck, which was unexpected and interesting.

Overall, my hike lasted 4.3 miles (6.92 kilometers) with a 21.05-minute mile pace—fairly slow due to the tricky and overgrown areas along some of the path.

Spencer Island wasn’t that amazing, but it’s still a decent place to go for a walk if you’re in the area and want a change of scenery outside the suburban neighborhoods. Even if you want to avoid the rougher areas of the trail, you can get a decent walk in on the western north-south trail and half-way a­cross the east-west trail.




Hello, Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden in Federal Way, Washington

On the same day that I went to the Pacific Bonsai Museum, I also went to the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden right next door. The botanical gar­den was a far more open and unstructured exploration area, as opposed to how formal and curated the Pacific Bonsai Museum was.

I received a map when entering the botanical garden, and I tried to route my path so I would be able to visit as many of the areas as possible, but due to how complex the area was, how winding the paths were, and the seeming outdatedness of the map, I got incredibly lost. I ended up just wandering a­round until I saw enough interesting things, then I ended up back and the entrance and returned to the parking lot.

The first point of interest was the Rutherford Conservatory.

There were some flowers planted right outside the Rutherford Conservatory. I enjoyed the contrasting irony of there being blossoming sunflowers in one area and completely shriveled sunflowers right next to them.

Next, I visited the gazebo.

Not too far away was the Alpine Rock Garden.

From this point began my utter aimless confusion. I attempted to visit the Magnolia Grove, Stumpery, Pond, Blue Poppy Meadow, Big-Leaf Rho­do­den­dron Garden, Upper Woodland Garden, and Azalea Collection. However, I kept feeling like I was going in circles, and I wasn’t entirely sure whether I was actually at those points of interest that I saw on the map, or whether I was anywhere near them at all to begin with. Regardless, it was a very tranquil walk through the flowers, plants, and trees.

Overall, between the two tourist attractions, I walked a little under two miles (almost three kilometers), at a very leisurely pace of almost an hour per mile.




Hello, Upper Bristlecone Trail at Mt. Charleston, and Zumo the Keeshond

During my routine once-every-two-months one-week-long air trip to Las Vegas to take care of all my errands all at once while road tripping across the country, I met up with two of my friends to go hiking at Mount Charleston, northwest of the Las Vegas Valley in Nevada. Also joining me this time around was Zumo, their Keeshond.

Before heading up to Mt. Charleston for our hike, we stopped by a gas station to get some beverages and snacks. Apparently there was a dog treat for sale at the gas station, so Zumo got a snack as well; if you look closely, you can see the small mess he left behind below his mouth.

As we got closer to the trailhead, we came across what appeared to be a wild horse. I’ve seen a ton of horses throughout my road trip, and even went to the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville to learn more about horses, but this is the first time that I saw a wild horse just roaming around out in the open.

Our trail of choice was Upper Bristlecone. We made it to the trailhead, which was right next to the Lee Canyon ski resort.

Near the trailhead was a large helicopter landing area. I walked over to the edge of the landing zone and snapped a photo of the mountains to the north­east.

The trail itself wasn’t too special for a majority of the hike—it was basically just a well-formed path cutting through forest. I did come across a few wild­flowers, like this red one.

Being a breed with a double-layer coat, Zumo got very warm very fast, and he had to take a lot of breaks to cool down.

In a sparse area of the forest, we found a little hut made out of branches and tree trunks. One of them even had a little entryway, so I climbed inside with Zumo for one of our breaks.

Eventually, we made it to the lookout point of the trail, which I guess you could consider the summit (there was no true “summit” because the trail con­tinued to an intersecting point of Upper and Lower Bristlecone, before turning into the regular Lower Bristlecone Trail). Immediately upon arrival, Zu­mo found some nice, cool rocks on which to lay down and cool down.

By this point, a thunderstorm had started to roll in. There was a decent amount of cloud coverage over by The Sisters…

… and clouds had completely engulfed Mummy Mountain.

The lookout point had a tree that was blossoming flowers with a very unique scent.

The storm clouds were rapidly approaching and it started drizzling, so we started making our way back down the mountain.

We arrived back at our vehicle just in time—with literally about half a minute to spare, it started pouring rain right as we got Zumo cleaned up and back in the car.

Unfortunately, my Fitbit activity tracker refuses to start tracking if I don’t have a data connection at the beginning of the hike (even if it can catch a GPS connection), so I wasn’t able to map this hike. However, based on other people’s maps on All Trails, it looks like our round-trip total was 3.2 miles (5.15 kilometers), with an elevation gain from base to lookout of 626 feet (191 meters).

Because the starting elevation was 8,692 feet (2,649 meters), the oxygen was sparse and it felt like much longer of a hike than it actually was. Even with the decent number of breaks we were taking to allow Zumo to rest up, I still got a little out-of-breath at times, and wished I had brought more than just a 28 fluid ounce (828 milliliter) bottle of Gatorade Zero.

There are a lot of great hikes at Mt. Charleston, and if it’s your first time, I’d recommend something like Cathedral Rock instead. Regardless, it was a good hike at Upper Bristlecone, and it was a nice opportunity to get away from the 100+°F (38+°C) heat of the Las Vegas Valley for a bit.




Hello, Jetty Island in Everett, Washington

Since starting my road trip and living out of hotel rooms, I generally roam around to wherever has the most affordable hotel rates. This methodology recently brought me to Everett, Washington, a city inside Snohomish County on the northern end of the Seattle Metropolitan Area.

For one of my tourist activities, I decided to explore Jetty Island, an island about a thousand feet (a little over 300 meters) off the coast of Everett. Jetty Island is a popular tourist area, and it recently opened up for tourism via the passenger ferry.

After parking my truck at the lot, paying a few dollars for the ferry ride, and making it onto the island, I started my hike by heading north.

There was a short trail that had been cleared, but in general, hiking was fairly difficult because I was part of some of the first batches of tourists arriving on the island for the season. I ended up being one of the trailblazers flattening wild grasses under my feet to form a path, or climbing up fallen tree trunks in areas where the grasses were too tall.

Continuing off the path and into deeper vegetation led me to a swampy area.

Eventually, it became a bit unmanageably muddy and difficult to proceed, so I retraced my steps for a little bit, then started heading towards the beach.

On the beach, I saw some sea foam that was a lot more colorful than I’m used to seeing—it was a rich tan color, as opposed to off-white like I’ve seen before.

The shoreline also had a lot of random tree stumps.

As expected, there were also plenty of shells. This one had an ornate, purple, stone-like substance on the outside.

I eventually made it to the northern tip of the island, where I saw a flock of seagulls perched on some rocks.

After looping around and continuing on the east shoreline, I saw more seagulls, and even a few seals.

There was a row of rocks surrounded by upright logs; I’m not sure if this was intended to be a path at some point, but the rocks seemed far too slippery to be reliably safe, so I continued trailblazing through the grassy area.

I have pretty bad eyesight, so I didn’t realize this at the time, but when I was browsing through the photos I took, I noticed something in the corner. Upon zooming all the way in, I discovered a colony of seals poking their heads out of the water.

Jetty Island is known for being home to a lot of bird species, so I saw a lot of loose feathers lying around. I came across one that was sticking upright out of the sand, which I found intriguing, so I reached down and picked it up… then proceeded to immediately regret doing so. I stabbed it back into the sand and took a picture of it, pretending like it had never left the ground…

After making a figure 8 and making a long trip down the west coastline, I walked past the more popular beach area, then came across a flock of geese taking a dip in Possession Sound.

Even further south, I noticed a wrecked and abandoned ship.

Eventually, I made it all the way to the southern tip of the island. If I was a risk-taker, I could’ve continued further south on the tree trunks and rocks, but after slipping and falling on rocks at Sacred Cove Beach in Rancho Palos Verdes, California earlier this year that left me with a painful bruise that lasted months, I decided that just taking a picture would suffice.

This southern tip also had a lot more algae than other areas of the island. I found it very intriguing that algae in moderate volumes would make it look goopy.

Overall, my adventure across the island was a little over four and a half miles (7.39 kilometers) and took over 2 hours due to taking many stops from photos and navigating carefully through the wilder areas. If you like exploring nature, this is a great trip that you can knock out in one day.

If you just want a day to relax, there is a nice beach not too far away from the ferry unloading zone where you can enjoy the sand and water. If you’re a bird­watching enthusiast, it is definitely worth heading to the northern part of the island, bringing a lawn chair or something to camp out, and watching all the interesting species on the island.




Hello, Manito Park in Spokane, Washington

On my way back from Canada, I re-entered through Idaho and drove across through the panhandle for my second visit to Spokane, Washington. I had a great time exploring downtown Spokane during my last visit, and this time, I decided to visit Manito Park, about a mile south of Interstate 90.

I parked in the northern-most lot northwest of the roundabout connecting East 18th Avenue and South Tekoa Street, then started walking around Mirror Pond. Most of the paths were paved with asphalt, but there were a few dirt trails around the northwestern area of the park.

The northwestern area also had the Lilac Garden, containing, as you may have guessed, lilacs.

Next up was Rose Hill.

After Rose Hill, I crossed West 21st Avenue and looked at some of the flower arrangements east of Rose Garden Path.

South of this was Duncan Garden, a manicured garden with a very pleasant display of flowers and trimmed shrubs.

The steps going up from Duncan Garden led to the Gaiser Conservatory.

The Gaiser Conservatory had two sections, with the one to the east having a more humid environment.

The west side of the conservatory was drier and featured vegetation you’d see in an arid climate.

I continued my walk down south near the playground and kickball field, then circled back around through the picnic area to where I had parked. Back by the pond, I saw some ducks waddling around in the grass.

Even with partly cloudy skies, it was still pretty sunny and got pretty warm. I think Manito Park would be a great place to find a spot in the shade and relax if the weather is nice, and a pleasant (and free) place to go for a walk if you like looking at flowers.




Hello, Lethbridge Viaduct and Old Man River in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

After spending two weeks in Calgary, I started making my way back down to the United States. I wanted to break up the drive as much as possible, and I found a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Lethbridge, Alberta, so I decided to spend a night there.

The drive from Calgary to Lethbridge was only about two hours, and with the long days and late sunsets in the summer, I was able to go exploring during the evening of my arrival in Lethbridge. The thing that Lethbridge appears to be known for is the Lethbridge Viaduct, so I drove over and went for a short hike.

As I got closer to the viaduct, I saw an increasing number of teenagers loitering. At first I was a bit confused, but then I realized that, due to how the viaduct is a bit out of the way compared to the rest of the park, it was likely the “cool kids hangout spot” for the teens of Lethbridge.

After walking for a bit parallel to the viaduct, I connected onto Indian Battle Road South and saw a long flight of stairs leading to a gazebo at the top of a hill.

Of course, I went all the way up, my efforts of which were rewarded with vast, sweeping views of Indian Battle Park.

Overall, my hike was a little short of 2 miles (or a little over 3 kilometers). There were some smaller trails cutting through the center of the park, but I opted to stay near the perimeter with less shade coverage because I ended up with around eight mosquito bites.