My daughter recently received a brand new pair of hiking boots from her grandmother, so on September 25th, 2009 I decided to take her on a hiking adventure. This wasn’t our first hiking expedition. In fact, over the past several months we’ve had numerous outdoor explorations, and this particular outing would be a trial of the new boots. I thumbed through my Whatcom County hiking guide (a Christmas gift from my wife) and, based on a small black and white pic placed amongst the text, I decided on a destination called Canyon Ridge. It looked like it was pretty and we hadn’t been there before. We set out at about 10am (an early start for the two of us).
The road we took initially was route 542. At around mile marker 32 we took a turn onto a one lane road that wound up the side of a ridge. We followed this path for about seven miles and enjoyed the sites. About halfway up we came across a park ranger who was stopped next to a pickup truck. I thought our journey was over. I rolled my window down and asked the officer if the road was closed off, but he told me that it wasn’t and that they were just speaking to the hunters about how their day was going. “Hmm, a hunter area”, I thought to myself. We continued our drive.
After following the 7 mile one lane road we began a 7 mile trek up a rough gravelly dirt road. Shortly after turning onto the gravel road I told my 3-year-old passenger in the back seat, “I’m not sure this is a good idea.” She assured me that it was and we continued on our journey. The going was pretty slow at this point driving in a Honda on a road that was not constructed with Hondas in mind. There were some spots that were a bit dicier than others, but about halfway up I heard the voice of reassurance from the back seat, “I like this place, Daddy.” A little more than two hours from our 10am start we arrived at the Canyon Ridge Trail-head.
Climbing out of the car after such a long and arduous drive I think both my daughter and I felt a sense of accomplishment. Surveying our surroundings we were eagerly looking forward to a hike in the wild expanses that lay all around us. We both started down the trail, each with a grin on our faces. Almost from the get go we stumbled across some pretty red berries of which my daughter was eager to sample. “We probably shouldn’t eat those. They might make us sick. I’m just not sure what kind of berries those are, Sweety.” I explained. “They are red berries, Dad.” was her reply. I found myself stumped and speechless, as I often do when I converse with this little one. I took a picture of the berries and that seemed to suffice. We continued down the trail.
My daughter often likes to discover mushrooms on our hikes so I was keen to show her all that I stumbled upon, being quick to point out that mushrooms we find on nature trails are not for eating either. Continuing on, we discovered several more berry plants, flowers and varieties of mushrooms.
After a good 30 or 40 minutes of hiking, my daughter wanted to be carried on my shoulders. I obliged and we continued down the trail enjoying the sites, scents, and blue skies. The trail began to wind downward along the ridge. At a bend in the trail we stumbled upon an empty Oberto jerky bag and a pile of discarded animal entrails. I put two and two together and figured we were in hunter territory. I decided to turn back and head to the car, taking pictures of the sites along the way.
Arriving back at the car, we took a few more pictures, got strapped in and started our descent. Heading down the gravel road I decided to time our journey from trail-head to paved road. The seven-mile journey took us a good 45 minutes, granted I stopped a few times to take pictures.
About mid-way down the one lane road we drove up on a truck that was stopped with it’s passengers standing along the side of the road. When they saw us drive up they got back in and drove for a bit. After going a little further I noticed a larger bird fly in front of their truck. The truck stopped and the driver jumped out. He was handed a shotgun and he proceeded to take a shot at the bird that had just flown away. He walked around to the back of his truck and took another shot in the direction of the bird. I looked back at my daughter who was sleeping soundly and then looked again at the man with the shotgun thinking, “Hrmm…we might be stuck in the middle of the road for awhile.” I was also thinking, “Is jumping out of your car and shooting at a bird from the roadside legal?” About that time the truck passenger jumped out and climbed into the driver’s seat, drove up a bit, and let us pass. We continued our journey down the ridge. I kind of wish I had taken a picture of the guy shooting from the road right in front of us, but I think if he had seen me take a picture that might have gotten us in a sticky situation I didn’t really want to be in.
We finally made our way to one lane pavement, which in turn led to route 542. Slowly the scenic views gave way to civilization and other people. Our adventure was coming to its conclusion. We arrived at home around 4:30pm. I think next time I’ll look a little closer at the description of how difficult a destination is to get to, but I’m sure glad we made the trek…and made it back safe and sound.