Trail Talk: Kettle Trails

I’ve mentioned how the PNW fall is dark and wet. As we get closer to December we lose daylight fast. Right now the sun sets around 4:20ish but soon we’ll be experiencing darkness at 4 p.m.

For some this is tough: the rain, cold and darkness causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). For me, I overall I don’t mind this weather. I really love the rain. But I do have my ups and downs this time of year, but the key to beating SAD is getting out in all the mess.

Coming out of the plentiful turkey, thankful and glutinous holiday that is Thanksgiving, taking a good rainy forest bath proved more important than ever. I’ve been eating and drinking my way through the past four days and a walk in the woods was exactly what I needed. Rain or shine.

So we packed ourselves some turkey sandwiches and headed toward Coupeville where The Kettles reside. We were hoping to do the Island County side of the trails, but when we saw the signs that we needed to wear orange, we decided to head a bit further down the road to the Washington State Park side. We had on bright clothing but didn’t want to risk getting in front of a stray bullet.

We started at the Watertower Trail this time which leads you to an old water tower structure….sans water. Even though we started several hours before sundown, the trail which is crowded with firs, already seemed dark.

From Watertower we headed a short way down Princess Run and then Shepherds Crook which takes you seemingly to the bottom of the forest floor. Unless you look at the map, you wouldn’t know that other tails loom overhead.

We witnessed lots of debris and downed trees that we had to climb over. All results of the several severe wind storms here on the island.

After our recent mushroom walk and now armed with our new David Arora mushroom field guide, we searched for Chanterelles, but only found one cluster of mushrooms we weren’t able to identify. We figured perhaps most mushrooms had been hidden by the wind storm debris. I was super antsy so, honestly, I wasn’t interested in doing a deep search or identification unless the looked like something truly edible.

We headed down the Campground Trail which lead us closer to the Bluff Trail where the Ft. Ebey Gun Battery resides. That Bluff Trail, while one of my favorites, wasn’t on the list today. Too much exposure and too cloudy to take in a view of the Olympics.

The rain seemed to hold off most of the afternoon until we hit the edge of the Bluff Trail and then it started to pour. We took our time on the trail checking for mushrooms, taking sips of water here and there and just soaking in the fresh air and the canopy of trees above us. But darkness was coming quickly and under all those trees it seemed like we weren’t getting off the trail before sunset.

We got a little turned around and realized we were headed into Island County deer hunting country and had to reroute. We had a picture of the map in our phones which I highly recommend as the Kettles have all kinds of twists and turns and one trails sound similar (Cedar Hollow v. Cedar Grove).

After missing the return trail we found the park road and just took it back to our truck. I’d much rather had finished our hike in the forest, but it was after 4 p.m. and darkness was setting in.

We arrived bed home soaked but satisfied from our 4 mile hike. We’re already discussing hiking plans for next weekend.

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