Ferry County is blessed to have a 25 mile long “Rail Trail” that runs from the town of Republic clear up to Danville on the border with British Columbia. The trail follows an old railroad track path through forested areas, open spaces, alongside Curlew Lake, through a tunnel and many miles of the incredibly beautiful Kettle River. For years I have wanted to walk this scenic beauty, but alas, my spouse is not a walker. He will hike mountains as long as there is a purpose such as scouting, hunting, marking boundaries and checking trees. But walking? Nope. That’s not him. I, on the other hand, have been a serious walker since I was a child. I thought nothing of leaving our country house in Fredonia, NY and walking five or six miles just looking curiously at all my surroundings. My curiosity of all things in this great big world has never lessened and my adventures have never ceased. I never know what I will find when I leave my back porch and head out for fresh air and exercise. I have walked small sections of our Rail Trail by myself and once in a blue moon I have finagled hubby to go with me for short distances.
A couple of weeks ago I found myself on Lone Ranch Road looking for elderberries but also wistfully looking north along the rail trail towards Danville, wishing I had a walking partner. And then it happened! A social media acquaintance posted she had a goal of walking all 25 miles of the trail. This was serendipitous moment for us both! Over a period of a few days we talked, plotted and planned how to accomplish our mutual goal. We decided a systematic approach suited us and we would start at the Republic end of the trail and incrementally work our way north. We looked at access points and distances between those points to make sure we could manage our walks. Tuesday, October 27th was our start day but Mother Nature decided to throw a monkey wrench into our plans. The snow started on Saturday and did not let up until we had nine inches on the ground. We watched the situation closely. Actually, we watched as the situation went from bad to worse as the temperatures plummeted too.
Now, Diane and I are both approaching an age where we will not be able to leave the house without adequate padding to break our falls. Those “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” buttons are products I have given more than just a passing glance. I am perfectly capable of doing a stupendous wipe out on ice even while wearing those ugly “tire chains” on my boots. So, inclement weather was something we thought about for, oh, you know, about 30 seconds. We’re both pretty tough, seasoned and determined. This old Girl Scouts motto has always been to be prepared, and I am. Diane was an active member of our local search and rescue group and as such, is quite prepared. Our appointed day arrived and dismayed we noted the temperature here in the mountains was a frigid 15 degrees. So we layered up, she with hand warmers and me with ski gloves. Flannel lined jeans and ski pants made a fashion statement of some type. We both threw our snow shoes and poles in our cars and met at an access point. The only change we made was not to start at the beginning of the trail because distance wise it was a pretty long stretch and we thought maybe a shorter walk was in order to see how well we walked together and assess our stamina in the cold. We met at the access point on Winchester’s Road, AKA, West Curlew Lake Road then spotted one car at Herron Creek Road and drove back to our starting point. We nixed the snow shoes but took our poles along for stability and a bit of cardio swinging our arms as we walked along.
The sky was a lovely silvery blue and the snow crunched under our boots as we set out on this new adventure to meet our mutual goal. We chatted amiably about many topics both serious and fun as women tend to do. This section of trail is wide open. No dramatic scenery here. We did not spy any wildlife but there were deer prints galore. The time passed quickly and before we knew we were at our destination. We happily agreed that we would continue our walks and that we both were capable of going further distances.
And just like that, a new friendship was born. It’s never a bad idea to have adventures and goals. You never know what you can accomplish unless you set out and try. With mutual respect and encouragement we will meet our goal. We will put one foot in front of the other and walk that trail one little mile after another. Journey on!