Grand Coulee in February

Grand Coulee in February

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I don't typically venture outdoors for long periods of time until at least March and I definitely have never spent the night outside when there is still snow on the ground. But it turns out that camping in February isn't a terrible idea, especially when you can take advantage of unseasonably warm weather.

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After a late start, we left Spokane and drove two hours into Central Washington, stopping at Dry Falls State Park for lunch and then continuing to Lenore Lake Caves for a quick hike. We saw a couple of shallow caves on the beginning portion of the trail, but we hadn't done enough research to know how far down the trail the rest of the caves were. We ended up turning back early and missed the biggest cave that marked the end of the hike.

Pro tip: Don't give up early especially if a hike is only 1.5 miles long. Yikes.

Our camping spot for the night was at the base of Steamboat Rock and we had the entire place to ourselves. (Apparently February isn't peak camping season. Who knew.) The sun was just beginning to set and the temperature was dropping along with it, but we wanted to get another hike in before we set up our campsite. There was still some snow on the ground, but after a couple miles of scrambling up loose rocks and icy paths we reached the top and settled ourselves on a large rock to make hot chocolate and watch the sun set.  

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We had time for one more hike before heading home, so the next morning we drove a few miles up the road to the Northrup Canyon trailhead. The 6-ish mile hike winds through a gorgeous canyon and ends at Northrup Lake, which turned out to be covered in ice (a bummer for Allison, who had come prepared to use her fly fishing gear). One of the neatest parts of the trail was an enormous pile of rusted cans leftover from when the area housed hundreds of dam workers. I hate litter, but this particular trash pile had some gorgeous colors and textures and I took way too many pictures.

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Winter camping and hiking was a really pleasant surprise and I had such a great time exploring the outdoors in a different climate than I was used to. There were a few other families out on the trail and it made me so happy to see little kids and leashed dogs running around outside on the grass in 30 degree weather. That's one thing I love about living in Washington State; the people here are outside always and don't let weather keep them from exploring and having fun in nature. 

All downhill from here...

All downhill from here...

Elephant Seal Rookery - San Simeon

Elephant Seal Rookery - San Simeon