This adventure kicks off a little differently from the rest. I am writing this while sitting on a plane waiting to take off from John Wayne airport in Santa Ana, California. A few babies in the back are crying, an annoying guy sitting in front of me is sneezing, and almost everyone else on the plane can't seem to put their cell phones away until the very last second. It's moments like this that I appreciate the career I've chosen. Not for the busy airports and noisy passengers, rather for that feeling I get the moment I finally reach my trail destination and leave all that hustle and bustle behind.
As we get further into the flight I peer out of the window and am rewarded with a breathtaking view of northern Oregon's Mount Hood. The skies in this part of the world are phenomenally clear, and I can see Hood's snow-covered peak rising over 11,000 feet. The mountain is home to 12 glaciers and has claimed the lives of scores of climbers, but from my vantage point it looks peaceful and majestic.
Seth Green of ARB USA and his Jeep Liberty would be my tour guides for this Northwestern adventure. After spending some time showing me around and stopping at Jersey Mike's for a delicious sub sandwich, I'm left to fend for myself for the remainder of the afternoon and evening. This gives me a chance to visit downtown Seattle and play tourist for a bit.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Seattle? Coffee, right? It's hard not to think coffee considering both Starbucks and Seattle's Best Coffee were started here. But my hotel is quite close to all of the great sights of the city: the Seattle Center, the Space Needle, the original Starbucks, and just a short bus ride away is the famous Public Market. Something interesting about Seattle that most people probably don't know is that the current city was built on top of the original city after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. If you have the time, I suggest you take one of the many guided tours that take you deep into the history of this town.
The next morning, I meet Seth and our group for our adventure in Reiter Off-Road Area located in Goldbar, Washington. Driving out to the trailhead, I can't help but take in the fresh air that is so foreign to someone like me who lives in Southern California. During the drive, I also enjoy watching the endless pine forests, lush green fields, and historic buildings slip past my view.
For those of you interested in making your way to Reiter, it's about an hour-and-a-half drive from downtown Seattle - not bad. The trail system here is well-known for being extremely versatile: On any given weekend you can find toys ranging from four-wheel-drive vehicles to ATVs to dirt bikes. This is possible because the trail-difficulty ratings range from the mildest to wildest.
The trail that we take on is called Isabelle, aka "Izzy." It's roughly 5 miles long and filled with some of the most gorgeous terrain around. Rock, streams, log bridges, thick forest - plenty of scenery to keep you in awe. The accompanying photos and captions should tell you the whole story of what happened during our day at Reiter Off-Road Area...