Every January, while still in recovery mode from the holidays, I find some time to sit down and make some goals for the coming year. This year I tried to go beyond the tired old “I’m going to lose 20 pounds and get in shape”, to something a bit more defined. Instead of “getting in shape”, I vowed to get back into hiking, something I had loved doing years ago, but had drifted away from as I got busier with work and kids. Specifically, in writing I said I would do 5 hikes this year. It helped that I also decided to get serious about the Keto diet, and since January, I’m glad to report that those 20 pounds I’ve been fighting with for years are gone. Now on to the next 20, but that’s a different story…
This story is about my first hike by myself (and my dog). I’ve walked the Centennial Trail a few times by myself, and have always really enjoyed it. Once I even saw an adorable black bear across the stream and maybe 100 yards or so away from the trail. He was minding his own business, enjoying playing with a branch and poking around in the water, and watching him was the highlight of my day. But I’ve never hiked alone. Most of the hikes I’ve done have been well known, more moderate hikes, ending at a significant waterfall or lake. This time, I just wanted one with an “easy” rating, that I considered a “real” hike. There’s lots of hikes in our area less than a mile, but this didn’t seem authentic to me.
I found a great app, AllTrails, that rates hikes and allows you to use filters to narrow in on what you want. I also took the time, mostly to ease my husband’s mind, and really packed a backpack. I looked up the 10 essentials to always carry with you, included my mace and extra socks, threw my favorite tennis shoes on, and headed out. Lucy (our 3 year old Boxer with no manners, but a great personality) and I headed out. After a quick stop for water and cheese sticks, we reached the trail head in about 20 minutes. One thing I love about living in the Lake Stevens area is how close we are to outdoor activities! Just a couple minutes outside of Granite Falls, take Menzel Lake Rd to Waite Mill Rd and follow to the end. I followed the advice of someone on the AllTrails review site and didn’t lock my car. I know this sounds odd, but I didn’t have anything of value in it, and I’d rather the potential looters not break my windows to find that out. It was mid week, sunny but not too hot, and there were plenty of other people on the trail. Lucy got some good practice not jumping up on people to say “Hi”, but I do apologize to the first couple of young girls she did jump up on. No manners. She’s learning. Most of the time, it was just the two of us. Lucy is a great hiking partner, for the most part. I do have to say, though, I was kinda hoping she would help pull me along when the terrain got steeper. This was NOT the case. She would slow way down on any type of incline, making sure to patiently wait for me, and not in any way pull against the leash. She also doesn’t appreciate any type of delay to take pictures, and would whine every time I tried to frame a shot. But she sets a good pace, doesn’t spend too much time sniffing, and never poops. I’m not sure why, but it sure is convenient!
The trail started out very well groomed, and you could easily take a horse on the first part. It’s wide and graveled, with just a slight incline. There’s lots of ferns and moss hanging off trees, for that quintessential Northwest feel. This transitioned into a blackberry field, then a dirt trail with some rocks, logs, and water over the trail in a couple spots. About 3 miles in, you’ll come across the Lime Kiln, which looks like something you’d see in an old western movie. They’ve left the relics scattered for ambiance, which was a nice touch. The end of the trail is another .7 mile, and Luc and I went about another quarter mile or so before finding a nice big log and sharing a cheese stick. We were above the Stillaguamish river the last mile or so of the hike and could see it far below, but there was seemingly no way to access it. Apparently, had we followed it all the way to the end, there is a nice pool and small beach. That’s where we’ll have our lunch the next time we do this hike! In all, we hiked over 7 miles, which I consider a huge success for my first hike, on my own, after many years away from the trails.