I really miss the YMCA. It sits just across the street and was so convenient. After work, before work, it was like a trusted friend, always there. I was in stellar shape, but the pandemic has me slipping. Walla Walla, unlike Pendleton where I lived for years, is completely flat. I was an avid stairclimber user, and incline walker on the treadmill. Always tooling myself for vertical hikes. Now we are having to find substitutes and it's has not been easy.
The high country is still full of snow so it will be a while before honest to goodness hiking is available and the normal trails and trailheads are closed, so we are trying to find some other options. So here is last weekend's pinch hitters:
#1 Blacksnake Ridge Road - A nice lightly used road only about 20 minutes from here that requires a nice drive through vineyards and wheat fields until reaching the upper foothills at about 3000 ft. Walked it twice because the first go around felt so good, and there is a bit of a detour that you can make a loop out of.
#2 Wallula Gap - Wallula Gap is a narrows for the Columbia River. During the last ice age, some of the largest known floods from the geologic record swept much of eastern Washington clean of soil. A glacier in northern Idaho failed and allowed the lake behind it, that was filling much of western Montana, to rip across eastern Washington and flood what is now Portland and the Willamette Valley all the way to the Pacific. The gap here, backed up flood waters about 800 ft deep, and created ripple marks like you might find in a small creek but at a giant's scale. The geologist that interpreted that was shamed and disbelieved in the 1920s, but ultimately he had the last laugh.
So very deserty, and a good place to find rattlesnakes about this time of year, but a bunch of unimproved trails with newly minted wildflowers were had.
#3 Birch Creek Road - So technically across the border in Oregon. Thankfully we didn't get shot by the border patrol. Didn't think about that until now, but yet another farm road that heads up into the foothills with you guessed it, vineyards and wheat fields. We have over 140 wine related businesses here, so not likely I won't be mentioning vineyards on occasion. We found that part of the road while looking like a short, not so tough climb, was actually pretty good for getting the heart rate up and included a cruel false summit. Very beautiful, and there were a ton of deer tracks around. It was a good cap to the weekend.