I kind of go through phases with hiking. I typically get really into it for awhile, injure myself, and then wait until either the injury has healed or two years, whichever is longer. Well, the year-long mystery foot injury I had has vanished and the subsequent year of being worried I’d hurt it again has passed, so it’s time I get back out there. Luckily, Washington makes it incredibly easy to do just that. Yesterday, I grabbed my oh-so-stylish fanny pack, filled a water bottle, slathered on the sunscreen, and headed out the door. Not twenty minutes from my abode in Bothell did I arrive at the Meadowdale County Park trailhead, a bit of nature tucked right into the suburbs of Edmonds, Washington. I (luckily) grabbed a spot in the tiny parking lot, excitedly grabbed my things, and headed off down the trail.
It’s pretty nice that my current schedule allows mid-week excursions. My typical office workweek is three days long, leaving me two days to spend working on my own projects (some profitable, others hopefully someday profitable), meal-prepping, and doing activities to help reverse the adverse affects of having sat at a desk for the better part of my life. Thanks to a horse accident in my teens and nearly two decades of desk-sitting through school and work, my back is pretty much the back of a 120-year old who’s goal in life was to look like the letter “r”. Due to this, I try really hard to balance living in our weird-ass, desk-sitting society whenever I can.
It’s incredible what you can find hiding just miles from your house in Washington. As you head down the trail and lose sight of the parking lot, you’re suddenly in lush forest complete with sun-blocking trees, blanketing moss, and ferns as far as the eye can see. Being in the midst of a bustling suburb, this trail was the expected amount of crowded. I was caught more than a few times being touristy and taking pictures when I thought something was “pretty”, probably tipping off a few people that it had been awhile since I actually stepped out into anything remotely resembling nature. The way out was mostly downhill, and I enjoyed the easy start even though I knew what it meant about the way back (spoiler: pain).
At just a mile and a half long, the trail quickly reached it’s end at a clearing that looked just like any city park: sprawling green grass, picnic tables, and a rent-able gazebo. Kind of nice, but also kind of weird to find at the end of a nature trail. Just past the park, a long train was passing by. Just past the train, a glimpse of Puget Sound lingered on the horizon. “I want to go to there,” I thought, quoting 30 Rock and probably breaking some sort of copyright. So, there I went.
Under the train tracks, there was a small tunnel heading out to the beach. A sign above the tunnel said it was closed, but since it didn’t look closed, I figured someone just hadn’t taken down the sign. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The tunnel was short with a stream running through it, but a foot-wide ledge along the side offered a “dry feet” option for passage. Shuffling my feet slowly and using the ceiling for balance, I made my way through the tunnel. A large wooden board covered part of the ledge and I nearly lost my footing stepping onto it because I am clumsy as all heck. It shifted a bit, but all was well and I emerged from the tunnel to the blistering sunlight and an incredible view of Puget Sound. After a quick shuffle across a wooden beam that led over aforementioned stream, I found myself a plot of thick-grained, grated-seashell sand and sat for awhile.
It seemed that a lot of people came to the same conclusion about the sign considering how crowded the beach was, but it was still a beautiful place to sit for awhile despite the lack of solitude you’d find at a more isolated location. It’s a rocky beach covered in seaweed and barnacles with clear waves and seashells that you probably wouldn’t want to take home (re: barnacles). On this clear day, you could see north to Whidbey Island and a you had an amazing view of the Olympic Mountain’s silhouette across the glistening Sound. It was so beautiful I stayed a little too long on this hot (well, hot for Washington) day, but I did start my trek back before I was a total raisin, so that was good.
The combination of uphill and heat made the second portion of the hike a bit of a doozy. I’m not going to rule out the fact that this being my first hike in two years might have had a part in its difficulty, but I’m not going to give it all the credit either (because, pride). I don’t know exactly how to quantify the difficulty of a generally steep hill, but my Fitbit said I climbed 41 floors. So, it was about “41 floors” steep. Luckily, being such a short hike, the way up wasn’t bad despite the cardio and I was back at the parking lot and in my car’s max power air conditioning in no time. However, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I did test the structural integrity of just about every bench on the way up. They were all nice, sturdy benches.
As far as a “first hike back”, this was a good choice. Close to home, lots of benches, major payoff with the beautiful beach and views. It was a good indicator of how much work I need to do to get back in “hiking shape”, too, so I guess that’s a plus. A little depressing, but as far as improvement goes, it’s a plus. It definitely whet my whistle to start exploring the amazing hiking opportunities Washington has to offer again, and I can’t wait to check out some more new places this summer. I definitely recommend checking this place out if you’re in the Edmonds area and have just an afternoon to get out and play.
UPDATE: About a week later I tried out this hike again (since it is so convenient) and found that there is a trail that lets you bypass the park and head straight to the beach. If you’d like a little more nature trail time complete with rustling leaves and the sound of a pleasant stream, make sure to take a right at the ranger station. Also, the hill was ever-so-slightly easier. Yay!
Katrina Charles is a musician, writer, wanderer, adventurer, etc. currently living in Seattle, Washington. When she’s not doing the above activities, she enjoys paddleboarding, remembering to wear her fitbit, drawing, designing, and trying new things.