You know what’s awesome? Living in an area where good trails are just a short drive away.
That’s hiking Spokane Valley.
Of course, it was a familiar feeling living in Calgary and having too many places to count in the Foothills, Kananaskis country and Banff National Park.
Now that I’ve been living in Eastern Washington for almost six years, I’ve learned there are great places to go hiking all around me, and the Rockies are only just a few hours away.
(Even in COVID-19 times and the U.S.-Canada border closed, I might be able to hit my favorite mountain range. Don’t forget Montana is just over there!)
Hiking Spokane Valley for incredible views
We got up bright and early Sunday morning and made our way to the Iller Creek Conservation Trail in Spokane Valley.
Only a few cars were parked at the base and all was quiet but for the birds greeting us with their morning songs.
Our destination was the Rocks of Sharon, where we’ve been so many times before. Last summer, Bella and I did a sunrise hike to the Big Rock on the fifth anniversary of my losing Shep.
It’s a special place for us, to be sure, and definitely one of my favorite locations.
We’ve only ever started from the Stevens Creek trailhead in Valleyford, though, and ended our trek at the rocks.
We never went down the trail into the woods, although Bella has tried pulling me in that direction.
I don’t know what stopped me. Maybe it was just that I’d never looked into how long the trail was or what it looked like.
From start to finish, Iller Creek is a solid 5 1/2 mile workout, testing the hamstrings on the way up and the resiliency of toenails slamming into your boots on the way down.
The trail is lush green right now, and our morning was still moist from the last night’s downpours. In patches along the way, it’s lined with gorgeous blue lupine.
Higher up, it’s decorated with blanket flower, yellow salsify and buttercups.
Then the Rocks of Sharon come into view.
We stand on the patio built by giant shards of rock at the bottom of Big Rock and cast our eyes upon the magnificent view of the Palouse, with which we are so familiar.
Patches of farmland are awash in the yellow of canola fields right now.
We stayed for a snack of beef jerky and cheese and, of course, took some cool dog photos with the Palouse in the background.
We headed down the trail and discovered the back side featured switchbacks, which would have made our ascent a lot easier than a straight uphill.
Piss it. That would have been nice to know before we started.
On the way down, we were met with incredible views of Spokane Valley and, further in the distance, Mount Spokane and the Selkirk southern range.
By the time we got back to the Iller Creek trailhead, the street was lined a half-mile deep with cars.
Oh right! Father’s Day. And Sunday. And urban trails.
Yep, that’s how a weekend goes when you’re hiking Spokane Valley.
What you don’t see
I was a bit hesitant to go hiking Spokane Valley last weekend.
Actually, I was a bit hesitant to go hiking at all. Even for a little walk at the park.
Bella had an ultrasound last Friday because her annual checkup in March and a follow-up blood draw two weeks ago revealed elevated levels of ALT in her liver.
Her bare belly would leave her susceptible to scratches from branches and really at risk for tick bites.
She got through the hike unscathed.
Her bile acid tests came back “perfect,” says our vet.
That just means there’s more diligence to be done with supplements and tests to figure out what’s happening. It could be hepatitis, which can be determined only by biopsy, or hepatic microvascular dysplasia.
The latter is a congenital disorder that keeps the liver from functioning properly.
We’re putting Bella on Denamarin for a few months to see if that supplement helps her little organ along. More than anything, we wanted to give her a little break from pokes and prods.
Another project for me
On a lighter note, there’s cool news to share.
I’ve written a bit about my part-time job as a copy editor at the Spokesman-Review, a job I love so much and brings me back to the industry that made a camera feel like an extension of my arm.
I pitched a feature series on hiking with dogs to deputy sports editor and good buddy Madison McCord and he loved the idea. Onward to interim Outdoors editor, Dave Nichols, and the feature is born!
The first installment runs Sunday and goes more into detail about last weekend’s hike at Iller Creek.
All around the circle
Don’t you think hiking Spokane Valley, like up to the Rocks of Sharon, whether from Stevens Creek or Iller Creek, would be a great way to fill up an album of memories?
The Adventure Day session with me includes a 10×10 photo book designed to showcase the incredible bond you have with your four-legged explorer.
Learn more about it here:
In the meantime, let’s go visit the rest of the dog photographers in our worldwide blog circle. They’re sharing their favorite locations this week.
Click the link at the bottom of Linda’s post to get to the next post and so on. When you get back here to hiking Spokane Valley, you know you’re home.
Right where you belong.