With this guide, it is possible to go back in time – thousands of years – and have a view from above.
“Hiking Washington’s History,” published this spring by the University of Washington Press, contains words and maps to guide you on 44 four-dimensional journeys. The book is the gigantic enterprise of Judy Bentley and Craig Romano, two hiker-writers who have traveled for miles across the state.
Chapter 1: The Olympic Peninsula. This place, “wild in the extreme,” as Captain John Meares put it around 1788, has the first five hikes in the book.
“We will visit a coastal village buried by a mudslide and discover the Scandinavian imprint in the prairies. We will follow expeditions through mountain passes in the late 1800s. Finally, we will climb to a WWII lookout post and gaze at the same sky over the broad horizon, ”the introduction says, referring to Cape Alava and Lake Ozette; the route of the press expedition in the Olympic National Park; O’Neil Pass, also in the park, and finally Hurricane Hill.
For this 3.2 mile hike, Bentley and Romano set the scene in early 1942. After the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, the US government feared further attacks, with planes flying over the Olympics to strike the Bremerton shipyards. or the Boeing plant in Seattle.
Enter the Aircraft Warning Service, which recruited civilians to live in high mountain lookouts.
“Leith and Mary Johnson grew up in Dry Creek, west of Port Angeles, and hiked the mountains as a teenager. Leith had trained for the Signal Corps, but had developed diabetes and could not enlist. The young couple wanted jobs in the service of the country.
The Johnsons became the rescue team for Herb and Lois Crisler, who had spent the winter of 1942-1943 at the Hurricane Hill Observation Post, a 13ft by 13ft “cabin in the sky”. They had been in the snow for nine months.
To reach the Hurricane Hill Hut site, you don’t have to walk, like the Johnsons did, 3,800 feet into the Elwha River Valley. Drive to Hurricane Ridge and start the hike at the end of the road, the authors suggest.
At the top, “not much is left of the lookout except for a concrete footing and rebar, but the panoramic views remain.”
Such prospects attract a lot of humans these days, Bentley said in an interview. Yet the Evergreen State offers a lot of seclusion elsewhere. One of his favorite trails is Chief Joseph’s Summer Trail in the high prairies of the Blue Mountains.
Here in Southeast Washington’s Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness, you can “walk in silence, admire the wildflowers, cool off at the springs, and encounter only moose and foxes.” It is not surprising that the Nez Perce cherish the land.
This is the second edition of “Hiking Washington’s History” and includes a dozen hikes that did not appear in the first edition of 2010. One is the Yakama Cowlitz Trail – “I wouldn’t say it is. the most beautiful place in the state. But its history is old. It’s a 7,000 year old trail, ”added Bentley.
“The natives walked in the mountains every summer to pick berries, hunt, chat and socialize,” begins the description of the hike.
“The Cowlitzes came from the west side and the Yakama from the east side to meet at Cowlitz Pass in the shadow of Mount Rainier. They camped in the meadows next to tarns, ponds and lakes.
Today, this hike can be accessed by heading east on the US Highway from Packwood or west from Yakima. This is a 10.4 mile outing with 2,000 feet of elevation gain, so it is rated as moderate.
Another experience awaits hikers on Whidbey Island, just across from Port Townsend. Ebey’s Landing is the starting point, not far from the Washington State Ferry dock.
One day in June, 162 years ago, James G. Swan “left Port Townsend in a canoe and arrived here around noon on his way to meet the Skagit chiefs,” the description notes. He set out on foot for Penn Cove and, as he writes in his journal, “had a most enjoyable walk.”
Today, the Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry takes people to the island, where hikers can head inland on the Ebey’s Prairie Trail, where much of what they see is what Swan did: emerald green fields rising from the blue water’s edge.
“The prairie landscape that unfolds before you has withstood 6,000 years of human use and still provides crops of beets, corn, alfalfa, cabbage, barley and wheat,” flourishing around some ancient structures. One is the blockhouse that Jacob Ebey built in hopes of protecting his family from tribal warriors coming from the north.
In total, the foray into Ebey’s Landing State Park is a moderate 2.8 miles with an elevation gain of 200 feet. As with each of the hikes in the book, Bentley and Romano also suggest nearby sites: continuing the Bluff Trail past Ebey’s Prairie Trail, for example, takes you to a point 260 feet above the sea.
Bentley will be giving an online talk on “Hiking Washington’s History” at 6 p.m. Tuesday via the King County Library System’s Zoom channel. To sign up for the free program, see https://kcls.bibliocommons.com/events.
“I hope people will become aware of the trails around them; local hikes that have a lot of history, ”said Bentley. Local historical societies, groups of hikers and people whose families have lived in a place for generations: talking with them can bring the trail’s past to life.
“That’s what it is,” she said, “placing yourself in history and appreciating what everything has been here before”.
Jefferson County Senior Reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected] news.com.