Winter Hike to the Ice Caves

At the end of August I generally declare, to no one except myself, that the hiking season is over. I have good intentions, so my backpack remains accessible, but we don’t usually get back on the trail again until late spring, when the weather turns warm and the mud is dried up.
Enter my friend Michelle. I follow her Instagram and have enjoyed pictures of her family over the past few years, but all of the sudden over the past few weeks, she’s been posting all of these amazing pictures of her friend and her all over Western Washington, climbing hills, playing on ice and seeing beautiful things. I watched her go up to the mountains, repeatedly, waiting for her to hit an icy patch or a scary situation, but she kept heading up and never had a problem. I wrote to her and asked if she was in training for something and she said that she was just trying to break up the monotony of the gym. I though of my garage… My running loop that I’ve run a bajillion times… Then it suddenly occurred to me: I can hike in winter, too! I got inspired and planned a hike for this weekend, rain or shine!
(If you’re wondering, it was steady rain.)

I knew that Bradley and I would be fine climbing pretty much any trail we’ve been on before, but I wasn’t sure how the kids would fare on a longer trek in winter, so I opted for the easiest hike I know with guaranteed ice and snow: Big Four Ice Caves! Michelle headed up there last week, so I knew that the hike was accessible and I knew what to expect.
We donned all of our gear for the trek: backpacks, trekking poles, water bottles- the whole nine yards. The last time we did this hike it was somewhat difficult for me. It was a testament to how different I am physically that I kind of kept waiting for the hike to start and all of the sudden we were at the glacier. The hike was easy this time! I looked around at the top and all of the other hikers were dressed for a walk in the city with their dress boots, umbrellas, cigarettes and pleather jackets. We looked like we were in training or something, decked out as much as we were! There was little snow, lots of water and in the long run, we were really glad to have our trekking poles. They really helped when we had to traverse through muddy puddles via balance beam type logs. The kids played their harmonicas as we made our way up and down the mountain. At one point, I overheard a man comment, “That was certainly a merry family!” The comment made me smile.
At the end, our souls were refreshed. It was rainy, wet and wonderful.

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