Memorial Day weekend marks my return to the forest. It’s late enough into the spring and there are some snow-free backpacking spots in the North Cascades National Park near Ross Lake.
I’m not alone in my quest for solitude, so fighting through the traffic and crowds is often a practice in patience. But this year’s drive out and return was smoother than it had been in the past. The roads were free-flowing Saturday morning, and I only hit congestion between Marysville and Everett and then again closer to Seattle, when I returned Monday afternoon. And from what I heard from some readers, others were able to avoid sitting in traffic altogether.
Andrea Nicolayeff, of Mukilteo, normally stays off the road Memorial Day. This year she headed north of Mount Vernon for a hike Monday. Then she decided to stay in the area for dinner until traffic cleared, heading home around 8 p.m.
“Then it was a breeze back to (the) Everett area,” she wrote.
North Everett resident Mario Urrusuno braved parts of the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway heading east over the mountains from the city. He came back on I-90, hitting no traffic along the way, he said.
Connie Mennie, also of Everett, was able to avoid Seattle traffic picking up relatives who flew into Everett’s new airport for a family wedding.
“(It) was a bazillion times easier at Paine Field than it would have been at Sea-Tac!” Mennie wrote.
Others evaded traffic by just staying home or taking their vacation the weekend before.
I-5 travel times, between Everett and Seattle, on Memorial Day when many were heading back home, were faster than a normal Monday commute. Washington State Department of Transportation data shows peak travel periods ramped up earlier, but average travel times during the normal rush times were much quicker than typical.
Ferry ridership was down slightly over the entire system than what Washington State Ferries predicted. Both the Edmonds-Kingston and Mukilteo-Clinton routes had about 78,000 riders from Thursday to Tuesday during the holiday, according to the agency. Ridership was up just a little on the Mukilteo-Clinton line, and down several thousand on the Edmonds-Kingston compared to last year’s Memorial Day weekend. The longest wait time of three hours occurred Saturday morning at the Edmonds terminal.
My camping partner and I had plans to get an early start and follow the advice of WSDOT, but with a long holiday weekend ahead of us we had no motivation to follow through. Turning off the alarm ended up saving us time, because not only did we not hit any traffic, we also missed the rush of campers hoping for a same day permit at the ranger station. With a reservation in hand, we were on a trail just as the drizzle stopped. The rain picked up again in the afternoon soaking our shoes, causing us to consider abandoning our first major hike of the year. We toughed it out, and were rewarded with stunning views on our way back when the clouds cleared Monday.
From Wednesday night to Friday morning U.S. 2 will be closed in both directions overnight. The road is set to close again Sunday evening until the morning of Wednesday, June 11.
During these two closures eastbound lanes will not be opened from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. and westbound lanes will be closed from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. The work is weather-dependent.
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