Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cherry blossoms and waterfalls

Spring is here!

In the final week of February, the city of Seattle has exploded with color. True to its slogan, Washington truly has stayed "ever" green all winter long, as evidenced by many of the photos I've been posting from runs, hikes, etc. this whole season. But now that the weather's been pretty consistently warm for awhile (I think I read somewhere that the temperature hasn't dropped below freezing here since December?), other colors are returning to the spectrum of fauna - urban and otherwise. Most notably, the cherry blossom trees have exploded into full bloom, which are *amazing*!

Though the fact is obvious, I have to remind myself that this is my first time ever experiencing this time of year in the Northwest - and I'm really enjoying the novelty and beauty of it all. I hope that five, ten, twenty years from now - assuming I'm still living in this part of the country - I still appreciate it as much as I am now.

On a hike with a couple friends yesterday, we got on to the topic of the changing seasons, and weather in the Northwest in general. Cam, who grew up in Washington state, was thrilled by the 100+ degree week last summer (my first week in Seattle) simply because once you live somewhere long enough and get accustomed to the weather patterns, anything extreme and out of the ordinary is cause for celebration. Likewise, the snowstorm here last year had its fair share of exciting moments for Northwest natives as well. But for me, it's the very mildness of the seasons here that's enthralling. I've had my fair share of blistering heat and humidity in Kansas, and vicious ice storms and blizzards in Kansas and Ohio alike, and the fact that the temperature's generally wavered between 40 and 65 degrees for the vast majority of my first seven months in the Northwest is just fine by me.

As for the afore-mentioned hike...rockin! We traversed a relatively flat route along a burbling creek, occasionally punctuated with little waterfalls, bridges, washed out trail crossings, and other fun bits of scenery:

Unlike many of the other hiking routes I've tried out in the past few months, this one we had almost entirely to ourselves. Without much elevation or many territorial views, we took joy instead in the simple, sensory landscape around us - making note of several promising swimming holes come summer time here, as well as some possible mountain-biking routes. We hiked out to Otter Falls, a towering, slick rock face with a cascading waterfall sliding down the entire width of its facade...really beautiful sight.

Being silly, I pose with the falls.

Cam, Jenica and I don our game faces.

On the trek back, Cam noticed a little side trail that had been flagged. We decided to explore it - a narrow, unmaintained, and rather vertical little jaunt into the depths of the forest...and more or less stumbled on a giant fairy tale land (much like in Avatar, Home Tree and all) of huge, old-growth cedars. Pictures, as usual, can't do them justice, but they'll try nonetheless.

Overall, a grand adventure of a day. Barely made it back to Seattle in time for my evening work shift, but I made it happen. Now enjoying a lazy, sunny/cloudy catch-up day around the apartment before heading out for an afternoon of adventure in the woods north of Seattle with barefoot running, MovNat and homemade pizza! Finally...not enough Northwest in your life? Cam blogs too. Read his account of our adventure here!

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