Category: Hikes and Exploration

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park

Kanaskat-Palmer State Park

Once again life has a way of taking us places we don’t expect to be. We set out on this sunny Sunday to hike a nearby mountain that had reports of clear roads and snowy trails which was perfect because we’ve been wanting to go play in the snow but I don’t have tire chains or a snow-ready car. But when it came time to actually get to the trailhead, I was at a loss. Google maps was taking me down all the wrong roads, and of course I couldn’t get a signal otherwise so I could look up the actual directions to the trail head.

I know, I know. I should have been more well prepared. But we also left the apartment around 1 in the afternoon. It was a very spontaneous hike haha.

With that plan out the window, I remembered passing some signs to a nearby state park that I’d never even heard of before. So we doubled back and decided to try our hand at finding that instead. Which we did in no time at all. The Kanaskat-Palmer State Park is a nice and small park, with a couple miles of camping area, equipped with RV hookups and picnic areas. There’s about a mile or so of trails leading to and around the Green River where we saw a couple families with kids, and even some fisherman trying their luck in the river.
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At first we spent some time climbing around on the rocks and were even lucky enough to find some good walking stick material. Thom was constantly stopping to test out branches, picking which ones he wanted to keep and which ones to toss. I got a new one that should do very nicely once we have the tools and space to really style them up. My car is full of future walking sticks, we have way more than we need, but perhaps we’ll sell some in the future? (Let me know if you’re interested! The more interest, the more likely it’ll happen!)

After playing with sticks on the rocks for a while, we headed towards the trails along the riverside. It was so quiet and peaceful. There was no one on these trails with us and we took our time as we made our way alongside the river. The trail marker said it was about 0.3 miles along the trail, but it took us a good while to walk. We stopped to take pictures here and there, and there were many little turn offs where you could move back to the river bank. Once or twice we came upon more fisherman and just kept going so we wouldn’t scare the fish away.

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Overall it was a very calm and peaceful walk. Short, but relaxing. The sun was starting to fall behind the trees as we were making our way back to the car, though we still had plenty of daylight left. It may not have been the hike I had planned on, but it was definitely still a good one to go on. I don’t know if I’d ever want to camp there as it didn’t seem like there was much around other than fishing. But a nice place to go for a visit for sure.

Any recommendations where we should go next? Send me an email at TheAuthor@TheWhimsikalWolf.com or visit the Contact page and let me know where we should head next. We’re always open to new ideas. Till next time!

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Point Defiance Zoolights

Point Defiance Zoolights

On Christmas eve eve, Thom and I decided to visit the Point Defiance Zoolights in Tacoma. It’s an attraction I like to go to every year, and as part of the first holidays we got to spend together, it’s somewhere I wanted to take Thom. Not being a fan of zoos, it wasn’t something he was really interested in doing, but he could tell how much I wanted to see them with him and reluctantly came along. After which, he was glad for.

It was a little bit on the rainy side, as is the norm for Washington, but we had plenty of dry breaks where I could bring my camera out of hiding and take some shots. The lights all around were an amazing sight to see, with all the colors and the different shapes, many of them even moving. It’s always nice to see what’s changed from year to year. They’re always moving things around and adding new displays, so it’s never the same.

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These jellyfish were so fun to watch! All the tiny jellies swimming around. They seemed to love having that candy cane in there. It was always swarmed with tons of the little guys. Floating around and bumping into it. The one thing I really wanted to see that night was the scuba diving Santa! But yet again, I missed him. The Point Defiance Zoolights have been doing the scuba Santa for a few years now, but I have never once gotten to see him in action. It seems we were too late in the evening and he’d already done his show. One of these years I’ll see him, but not this year.

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Overall, I love going to the Zoolights here in Tacoma. And after seeing what it’s all about, Thom loved it too. It will definitely continue to be on the list of must see visits during the holidays, and even more so when we have little pups of our own to bring with us. If you haven’t seen the Zoolights and you’re in the area, they are still running this week until January 3rd so go check them out! For more info, here’s their website.There’s minor hills around the place, but overall very kid and stroller friendly. So bring the family out to see some of the animals and enjoy all of the lights!

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Hikes & Exploration #6

Hikes & Exploration #6



Flaming Geyser State Park
Auburn, Wa

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The Flaming Geyser State Park wasn’t even supposed to be our main stop for the day. Looking at some of the weather reports, Sunday was looking like the last day of dry sunshine we were going to have for a while. We wanted to take advantage of it. I looked up a couple of small hikes nearby and picked out two that we liked. The Flaming Geyser State park was the first on our travel agenda.

I’ve visited this 480 acre park in the past on a hot summer’s day and thought to bring Thom here to see the river. When we arrived, it was like driving through a portal to an early winter wonderland. The greens, reds, and yellows of late fall were all hidden away under a full sheet of frost and ice. The sun shining brightly and the last whispers of fog fading away. Rather than head towards the river, we took towards another trail heading for the trees.

Icy forest of Flaming Geyser State Park

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The trail itself was well marked and easy to follow. The first half mile or so is a very steep zig-zag of an incline heading high up into the trees, seemingly towards the sky. A hiker and his dog passed us with no problems, but I had to stop multiple times to catch my breath. If I can keep going on hikes like this, I’m sure I’ll get into the shape of my life! After what felt like forever to my calves, we seemed to reach a summit of sorts where the trail just leveled out a bit and continued on.

It was a pleasant walk in the woods. The hiker who passed us was no where within sight or sound distance. It was like we were all alone on the trail, hidden among the quiet of the trees and frost all around. It was a serene feeling and a very relaxing place to walk. Just what we were looking for.

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Eventually we made it full circle again and took a steep hike down towards the parking lot. We were lucky to have found a pair of walking sticks on our journey that we made good use of on the way back down.

On the way over to the namesake of the park, we stopped in at the car for a quick warm up. The air all around was so cold and I wasn’t prepared for it at all. But after a few minutes and a quick bathroom break, we were on our way again. It wasn’t a far walk from the parking lot at all. We could hear the sound of the river beside us only adding to the peaceful feeling all around.

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Even the flaming geyser was too cold to be out haha
Even the flaming geyser was too cold to be out haha

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With the flame from the geyser hiding away, we didn’t stick around too much longer. We detoured over towards the river on the way back to the car. To our surprise, the river was full of salmon! All of them trying so hard to swim upstream and none of them making much progress. There were loads of them! We could have easily fished the old fashioned way, with nothing but a sharp stick, and brought home a week’s worth of meals. I’d never seen anything like it in person. It was quite the surprise.

When we first arrived, I had no idea how much there was to see. When I had come the last time, I must not have really looked around. I only stuck to the river. Once we got back to the car, we decided to make our way back home for some much needed lunch. Overall, it was a magnificent place to hike, and the ice and frost all around just made it even more of a beauty. I could only imagine what this place would look like covered in snow.

What are some hikes that you like around western Washington?

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Hikes & Exploration #5

Hikes & Exploration #5


Sesqualitchew Creek Trail
Dupont, Wa

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This last week we ventured to the Sesqualitchew Creek Trail. A short hike located in the heart of Dupont, Washington. This three mile round trip hike was just what we were looking for and the surprisingly warm and sunny October weather was perfect for it.

When we first got to where my GPS told us we were supposed to be, I thought we were in the wrong place for sure. Where it lead me was to a parking lot with a police and fire station and city hall. But after scanning the immediate area, I saw the little sign post tucked away showing the start of our adventure. So we parked and headed forward.

October Colors

Mushrooms

Mini Mushrooms

When we came upon this stone on our path, Thom commented that it looked like one of the trolls from the movie Frozen. It was the only stone of this larger size on the whole path and it was so round. We had a good laugh as we continued on in our adventure.
When we came upon this stone on our path, Thom commented that it looked like one of the trolls from the movie Frozen. It was the only stone of this larger size on the whole path and it was so round. We had a good laugh as we continued on in our adventure.

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As you can see, this trail is rich in different varieties of mushrooms! I’ve always loved mushrooms; finding them in nature, photographing them, and eating them. Yum. And this trail was wonderful for it. There were so many different shapes and sizes from some as big as my hand to those as tiny as a sewing pin. I found one log absolutely covered with dozens of little mushrooms and large mushrooms! I’ll have to pick up a field guide on mycology and mushrooms at some point so I can learn more about the different types.

Much of this trail is in the shade of the forest. For a short ways at the start, you can still see the city streets and apartments that are along the outside of the trail, and much of the path is paved. But soon you delve deep into the wooded areas and that all seems to disappear. We didn’t see many people on the trail except a couple of joggers and the occasional biker, all passing quickly by with a smile and a nod before returning us back to the peaceful quiet of the trees and critters around us. It was so tranquil on the trail. You’d never know it was in the middle of the city.

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After almost a mile and a half, we suddenly heard the sound of a train. Loud and just echoing among the trees. Thom thought we were getting back into the city and asked me if I wanted to start heading back the other way, back into the quiet. But I knew what was at the end of this trail and I wanted to get there, so we pressed forward. Very quickly, the sounds of the trail vanished as if they were never there in the first place, like a ghost trail. It was very eerie. Not long after, we came across the dual tunnels that separated the cool dark forest from the warm sunny beach. The tunnels themselves were covered with all sorts of graffiti ranging from the truly artistic to the mere tagging.

The beach was absolutely stunning. The deep blue of the Puget Sound and the islands and mountains ahead were gorgeous. The beautiful clear blue sky and the warm sun beating down on us from above. And the quiet that continued to surround us, broken only by the occasional train passing by behind us. There was no one else on the beach the entire time we were there. Thom wished he’d brought a little picnic. It would have been perfect.

We spent a short while at the beach, enjoying the sun and each other’s company in the peaceful quiet of the waves. It was the perfect little getaway and exactly what we were looking for.

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For more information about the trail and directions on how to get there, you can check out the Washington Trails Association page for the Sesqualitchew Creek Trail. Stay tuned for our next adventure!

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Small Surprises

Small Surprises

Nikon D5200 w/ 55-200mm lens
Nikon D5200 w/ 55-200mm lens

The other day while out on a little stroll in the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge with Thom, this little guy hopped out of the leaves and surprised us! He was so tiny, maybe the size of my thumb and just so precious. His bright green color amongst the fading orange and yellow of the fall leaves was a delightful contrast that I just couldn’t pass up. He sat so still even when I got pretty close to him. The perfect little model. After I was finished, he hopped away back into the leaves where he was once hiding.

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Hikes & Exploration #4

Hikes & Exploration #4


Fox Hollow Farm
Issaquah, Wa

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This week, I wanted to introduce you to this little farm that I had discovered. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in the Issaquah area when I was dating a guy who lived there, and yet I never knew about this little gem. I don’t remember what led me to find it, but I had to check it out. I was even lucky enough to get off of work early one day and able to go, which saved me on gas!

Fox Hollow Farm is a cute little family owned and operated farm that opened its doors in 2009. They are an animal sanctuary for animals that would otherwise be neglected or abandoned. It’s small, but very gorgeous and lots of animals roaming around to visit with and engage with.

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A small adventure, but it was a lot of fun regardless. It would have been a lot more fun if I had kids, since this place is geared a bit more towards family fun. I definitely recommend this place to families, and to people just looking for a small escape.

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Hikes and Exploration #3

Hikes and Exploration #3


Bellevue Botanical Garden
Bellevue, Wa

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Another sunny day has led me out on another drive around this beautiful state that I call home. This time, I found my way up to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The huge gardens, housed on 53 acres of land, were much more than I was expecting. My first piece of advice, don’t wear flip flops haha There’s so much to explore, and some hills to walk, that my poor choice in footwear only held me back.

The gardens are free to enter, and the beauty is priceless. I wasn’t able to explore everywhere, but what I did see was spectacular. The variety in the flower gardens, the intense colors, the smells. Almost too much for the senses to bare! The paths were well maintained and easy to follow, with signs all around to help guide your way along the trails.

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By chance I happened to see this little gal sitting in her nest
By chance I happened to see this little gal sitting in her nest

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This is definitely a place where you should keep your eyes peeled. There’s so many little hidden treasures all around. Little statues and toys. Stuck in some of the most out of the way places, mixed with the plants and flora all around. Not to mention the natural wildlife and avian families that call the gardens home.

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All in all, I greatly enjoyed my time there. Just wish I’d had better footwear 😛 But I’ll be better prepared the next time I go, and I can’t wait for it.

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Hikes & Exploration #2

Hikes & Exploration #2


Kubota Gardens
Rainier Beach, Seattle, Wa

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A few weeks ago, I discovered the Kubota Gardens. A 20-acre Japanese garden discreetly hidden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle. Personally, I don’t spend a lot of time in the city area of Seattle. I’m just not a big city kind of girl. But as I was browsing the general web in search of a new place to visit, I stumbled upon this garden. I thought to myself, “There’s no way there’s a 20-acre Japanese garden in Seattle that I never knew about”.

But lo and behold, there it was. It wasn’t very hard to get to but it would have been easy to just drive past if I wasn’t looking for it. The entrance to the parking lot is off of a side street, not the main road. Parking was easy to find as it was early morning and not many other cars there at all. Which meant not many people in the gardens, so it would be a nice peaceful walk.

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This is but a small, small sampling of the tremendous hidden beauty of these gardens. There were so many different paths to choose from, some even hidden almost secretly. Despite the busy roads and freeway nearby, it was incredibly quiet. Serene. Peaceful.

I’m eagerly awaiting for the autumn weather to fully set in. This place will be absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to go back for another stroll through this hidden gem.

If you’re an admirer of Japanese Gardens, this one should definitely be on your list to see and have a wonderful little wander through. There’s much to see and it’s absolutely wonderful.

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Know of any wonderful hidden gems to visit? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Send me a message and share your stories. The whole world is a gem to be shared.

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Hikes & Exploration #1

Hikes & Exploration #1


Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Nisqually, Wa

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In the last couple of weeks, I’ve started going to the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge on a semi frequent schedule. When browsing around on the web one night, I came across a blog about this place, a place that I’d never heard of before that was not far from my house. After checking out some trip reports about this place on the Washington Trails Association webpage, I was hooked. I needed to check this place out. So, armed with my camera and good intentions, I headed out.

From my house, it’s about a 45 minute mostly freeway drive. Not that far for me since I’m used to driving that much or more to go to work or visit with friends. Though after visiting this place, I do wish it was closer so that I could go all the time.

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The wildlife here is abundant, and the care that goes in to maintaining this place is wonderful. The boardwalk trails are all in amazing condition. Along the boardwalk, there are plenty of informative signs about the wildlife and plantation that grows naturally, as well as standing viewfinders at some of the more interesting points in the trail to take a closer look at some of the waterfowl that are always around. I’ve also heard that you can check out a pair of binoculars from the visitor center by leaving a driver’s license or credit card at the counter (I’ve never done this, since I just use the 55-200mm lens with my camera haha).

Every time I come here, there is plenty of wildlife to be seen. The first time I visited, I was startled by a doe emerging from beneath the boardwalk and running up the hill beside me. The next, I watched as a bald eagle swooped down beside me to grab up some lunch before perching atop a nearby tree. Most recently, I stumbled upon a family of river otters playing in the river for a little while before scampering off into the trees.

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All in all, I greatly enjoy every visit to this refuge. It’s a gorgeous and serene place to spend some time. And by far, one of my favorite places to visit.

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