Hello, Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve in Richland, Washington

After digging around on Google Maps and All Trails, I noticed that Tri-Cities doesn’t really seem like the best place to go hiking, as the area appears to be relatively flat. However, I did come across Badger Mountain, part of the Yakima Fold Belt that was created through tectonic compression.

I decided to start my hike at the Westgate Trailhead, located on 210 Private Road off of Dallas Road, and right near the intersection of Interstates 82 and 182. I got on Skyline Trail and started zig-zagging my way up the mountain.

Once I got past the point where Skyline Trail crosses over 210 Private Road, I already started seeing some pretty nice views of South Richland.

As I kept climbing, I saw a rock labeled “Lake Lewis.” I looked around but there was clearly no lake, so I snapped a photo of the marker to do some re­search later.

I found out that Lake Lewis was a temporary lake that people suspect existed around 13,000 to 15,000 years ago which was caused by the cat­a­clys­mic Missoula floods. Based on evidence found in the Pacific Northwest, it is believed that the lake reached elevations of 1,250 feet. That means, during the floods, this entire area was engulfed in water as high as this marker rock.

Badger Mountain didn’t seem quite lively or colorful, but I did see this lone plant with purple flowers on my way up, so I snapped a photo.

Continuing higher, Skyline Trail crossed back over 210 Private Road and went on the southern side of the mountain, opening up views to the un­de­vel­oped land and some of the new homes built on either sides of Ava Way and Trowbridge Boulevard off Dallas Road.

As I approached the summit, I saw a cluster of radio towers.

When I did a loop around the radio towers and approached the intersection of Skyline Trail and Canyon Trail, I was able to see sweeping views of Richland, Kennewick, Pasco, and even as far as the edge of Burbank on the other side of the Columbia River.

As I circled around and prepared for my descent, there were a couple other radio towers away from the original cluster that I had seen.

While I was at the summit, it began drizzling rain, so I decided to take a quicker route back down—instead of retracing my steps on the winding Skyline Trail, I just took 210 Private Road straight down the middle. As I got closer to the bottom, I was able to get some nice views of what I believe is the Goose Ridge Estate Vineyard and Winery (though I may be disoriented and it might actually be one of the neighboring plots of land instead).

Eventually, I made it back down to the parking lot without getting too wet and avoided getting hit by lightning.

Overall, my hike was a little bit over 3½ miles (or just a little under 5¾ kilometers) in distance and approximately 700 feet (or about 212 meters) in el­e­va­tion gain.




Hello, Columbia River Park in Kennewick, Washington

After my short stop in Yakima, I made my way over to Tri-Cities, Washington, a metropolitan area consisting of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. Behind Seattle and Spokane, Tri-Cities is the third-largest metropolitan area in the state of Washington.

Upon arriving, I nearly immediately noticed a difference from my previous destination. I expressed my dissatisfaction with Yakima’s poor street plan­ning, but I haven’t run into any issues of the sort in Tri-Cities.

In fact, I’d say that Tri-Cities is nearly the opposite—they are very future-accommodating, and even in areas where there isn’t much around right now, the roads are robustly built and organized in a way that it can accommodate large spikes of population and traffic through appropriate insertions of turn lanes, one-way lanes, and stop light intervals.

For my first activity in Tri-Cities, I decided to keep it simple and go for a walk at Columbia River Park. The weather looked like it was going to rain, but something I learned from visiting the Seattle Metropolitan Area is that I can’t sit around and wait forever for the weather to be nice, because that’s not exactly a feasible thing to do in Washington without just running out of time.

After taking exit 42 off Washington State Route 240 and turning right onto Columbia Park Trail, I parked in the central lot just west of the Playground of Dreams then walked west to the Regional Veterans Memorial.

Just to the north was the Sacajawea Heritage Trail, so I took that east along the Columbia River.

There weren’t too many wild animals because this part is fairly inland in the center of Tri-Cities, but I did see quite a few geese, seagulls, and ducks.

After heading as far east as I could on the trail, I made it to the hydro pits and the Bernie Little Memorial Tree. There was a small pedestrian bridge that led me over to the boat launch, from which I had a nice view of Washington State Route 395, better known as Pioneer Memorial Bridge.

Continuing southeast, I made my way over to the Columbia Park Pond. There was a little peninsula and another pedestrian bridge, so I was able to see a few different angles of the various sections of the pond.

Nearly completing a full loop, my final stop was at the Old Veterans Memorial.

I haven’t posted a photo of my truck for a while, but I’m still driving the same vehicle—my 2018 GMC Canyon.

I’ve put nearly 20,000 additional miles on it since I started my road trip in June 2021 (which is pretty substantial, considering that, before my road trip, I would only average about 6,000 or so miles of driving per year). It’s suffered a little bit of cosmetic damage from harsh weather and a few bumps from neighboring parkers who seem like they weren’t very careful with their doors, but from a mechanical sense, it’s still going strong.

The park obviously wasn’t exactly stunning, but it was still very refreshing to go for a walk and get some crisp, cool air. Overall, my walk was a little bit over 2 miles (about 3.3 kilometers) with a mile pace of 22.5 minutes, which includes all the stops I made taking photos.




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.