We got up early today, rushed the girls out of the house and drove down to the Seattle Ferry Terminal, to catch the 9:30 sailing to Bainbridge. Unlike before where you’d get out and walk around the ferry, we sat in the car for the duration, and then a 45 minute drive up through Bremerton to Newberry Hill, where a hike rated 4.5/5 awaited us.
It had been sunny in Ballard when we set off, but a shower started as we got to the other side of the water and I worried about how we’d do without raingear (conveniently left at home) but it cleared by the time we arrived. Google Maps routed us first down a muddy track and into somebody’s front garden, but we didn’t take long after that to make it to the right place.
Newberry Hill is right by a big high school, and so we parked by the trailhead and walked into the woods. They were beautiful, full of rhododendrons, but all the trails were very short, circling back to the road. We met various people on bikes, three fat people wearing lots of camouflage and carrying guns, and some small children, but the trials weren’t at all busy.
After a second attempt to find the superlative trails, we found a suspicious looking RV parked in the middle of a fire road, avoided that, and then the girls and I discovered the Children’s Forest, a horseshoe shaped trail constructed by Eagle Scouts, with signs explaining some of the history, and a series of large wooden pictures of prehistoric animals, a bit like a less good version of Crystal Palace Park. The girls loved it, and with their friend Ryan who’d accompanied us, they gambolled for a couple of hours.
After that, we headed toward the school. The school itself was a charmless metal hangar, plunked down in the middle of the woods, with a full running track and football stadium next to it, and a big grassy field that I persuaded the children to run across. They wore themselves out, I did an 80 second 400 metres on the track in my hiking boots, and then swing each of my children round in circles holding onto their ankles.
It felt odd, like for some reason we were in an out-of-season Japanese holiday resort (outside of Tokyo, Japan always feels curiously bereft of people) but the sun was gorgeous, there were swifts or swallows and an eagle to look at, and the kids continued to run around. When enough time had passed we drove back to Ballard, La Serpiente falling asleep for a while in the back seat.
The hike itself was certainly not a 4.5/5. It was good in that it was very flat, and the Children’s Forest was good, but worth three hours of travel? Probably not. It did wear everyone out though, and I did get my run in today, so there was that.