Among the many things our Washington state governor closed down in response to COVID-19 — and the one that probably impacted us the most — was access to local, state, and national parks and land.
We love hiking and spending time in the great outdoors — it actually seemed like one of the more responsible and appropriate ways we could spend our time during a pandemic. However, the trails do get incredibly busy as the day wears on and there’s really no where to get out of the way of others without damaging the area around the trail so we understood and abided by the rules.
That said, I was thrilled when they finally started lifting the restrictions around hiking. We knew a lot of other people would be as well so we decided to pick some lesser known hikes where we would hopefully encounter fewer people. Brian also sewed us some buffs to try on the trail if we had to quickly cover up to pass someone.
We decided to make our recent return to the trails a bike and hike, which was a good excuse for me to get some additional miles under my belt on my new motorcycle Brunhilde (Hilde, for short), a new-to-me BMW F650CS. After ten years with Buella, my Buell Blast, which was only supposed to be a training bike, it was finally time to upgrade to a bike designed to handle the longer and more challenging rides we’ve been doing the last few years.
I was tired and not feeling like myself as we wound our way through the back roads toward Index, Washington to check out the Index Town Wall trail. It was a beautiful day and it ended up being a great hike so I was ultimately glad Brian pushed me to do it.
The parking lot was packed when we arrived around 1 p.m. but we were able to squeeze our motorcycles into a narrow spot. Most people were there to climb the walls so we had the hiking trail to ourselves the entire journey to the top.
The trail is short but steep — 1,344 feet of elevation gain over 1.3 miles — and it has several trees down and spots where it has crumbled and eroded away, requiring some navigation. This included everything from scrambling on hands and knees, grabbing the occasional root or tree branch, and in a couple instances, scaling across smooth boulders holding on to ropes!
The trail wasn’t always obvious, but thankfully there are randomly placed blue diamond markers along the way so we could check that we were heading to the summit and not one of the wall bases where climbers set up.
It was a workout in spots and we spent more time pausing for water breaks than usual, but the view of the Skykomish River Valley from the top was incredible. It took us 2.5 hours round trip, including our break at the top, to complete the 2.65 miles roundtrip.
What a great return-to-hiking experience!