My plans for this column included talking to U.S. Forest Service rangers for the latest in the conditions of popular trails because the weather has changed to more rainy days and some snow in the higher elevations.
Unfortunately, there was the government shutdown.
Fortunately, the Washington Trails Association website,www.wta.org, can provide accurate details for dozens of hikes. Its trip reports section is written by hikers right after their outings.
And while WTA reports are timely, the weather will change between the time of the trail reports and this story. The website is a must bookmark for outdoors-oriented people.
Here are some samples from area hikes recently:
Mount Dickerman: There were endless switchbacks, but impeccable views on a clear sunny day for a reporting hiker. The trail was in good shape with a few inches of snow about 3 miles up the trail.
Big Four Ice Caves: The gate to the main trailhead was closed due to the shutdown, but the road to the picnic area was open, and the snow-free trail was still accessible from there.
Boardman Lake: One of the best short hikes off the Mountain Loop Highway has spectacular views of Lake Evan and Boardman Lake. Fall colors are starting above 3,000 feet. But beware as car prowls are common in the parking lot.
Lake Twenty-two: Good hike for children, despite some abandoned trash (People: Get a grip on your trash and abandoned doggie waste bags and pack it out!). Great place to explore and eat lunch. Fall color is coming out, but remember that it gets chilly when the sun goes behind the peaks.
Skyline Divide: Bring your trekking poles to help traverse some mud, water and snow on the trail; terrific view of Mount Baker.
Lake Valhalla: This Stevens Pass-area hike featured snow-turned-to-slush on a sunny day, crossable streams and mushrooms. Bring gaiters.
Evergreen Mountain Lookout: The trail was still open after miles on the Forest Service road. A higher-clearance vehicle would help avoid large rocks. Parking lot had snow, but melted. Wear gaiters, bring poles; walk carefully; consider snowshoes near the top. Not a good hike with kids.
Wallace Falls: Perks — Beautiful vistas and the salmon run on the Skykomish.
West Tiger 3: Need to be in decent shape for this classic Tiger Mountain hike off the High Point trailhead because it’s uphill most of the way and daylight is shrinking. Trail is in great shape with a splash of color.
Enchantment Lakes: Start early and if the shutdown is over, be sure to call the Wenatchee ranger station for the latest because there was snow on the trail around 4,500 feet elevation, and much deeper at Colchuck Lake. Wear gaiters and waterproof mountaineer boots. Still, it’s doable in the snow, but be comfortable on steep snow and slick rock. Consider taking snowshoes for the higher part of the hike.
Fall birds: Naturalist Libby Mills is offering a free Birds of Fall outing at the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Limited to 15 people, the class is 8 a.m. to noon Nov. 16 and 17. Meet in the reserve’s parking lot. Bring warm clothing, binoculars (the interpretive center has loaners) and field guides (or borrow one) and a snack. Call 360-428-1558 to reserve your spot.
Columnist Sharon Wootton can be reached at 360-468-3964 or www.songandword.com.