Trip Report    

Urban Walk - Downtown Olympia & The Washington State Capitol

The initial plan was for a hike in Capitol State Forest; road conditions and colder than usual temperatures took us to our State Capitol instead.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • Sidewalks and roads were clear and dry with a few icy patches.  Skies were blue and clear which allowed for temperatures so low that parts of the fountain froze (see photograph)

This trip report is more about remaining flexible when planning for a trip than the trip itself.  The original plan was for Lost Valley Loop in Capitol State Forest, an 8 mile trek with about 800 feet of elevation gain.  Getting to the trailhead means driving for about 5 miles on a sometimes hilly and curvy forest service road.  When we got snow and ice with a forecast low of 17 degrees for this morning at the trailhead we began worrying about road conditions and the comfort of our hikers as the wind chill value was to be between 5 and 8 degrees.  With advice and mentoring from the Olympia Branch's co-chairs of our Hiking and Backpacking committee I decided to look for an alternate LOCATION rather than an alternate date (which I've done in the past).  After weighing a few options we decided to select a route that would have good roads combined with good footing.  One of the options would have had good roads but questionable footing as it has a lot of steps and boardwalks and we were fearful that it would be slippery.  In the end the route and location we chose was ideal (roads and footing); additionally, one of the participants experienced a hip problem with a lot of discomfort that slowed her (and consequently our) pace considerably.  We were able to get her back to her car easily and make adjustments to the itinerary; had we been in Capitol Forest, keeping everyone safe and comfortable would have been much more difficult given our pace and the cold, and I doubt that we would have finished the hike as originally planned.  All the hikers expressed appreciation for our concern for their safety in these conditions as well as our desire to choose a different location rather than a different date.  Lesson learned - in addition to considering re-scheduling the date, thinking about re-locating the hike just might be the thing to do.