The tide of snow seems to be receding up the valley towards where it will perch upon the peaks of the mountain tops as the last defense upon an encroaching Spring feel in the air. Spring in the mountains is always a tenuous affair; sure, the lowlands have their cherry trees blossoming, and the exodus of southbound birds for the winter has turned northward again, but here on the western slopes of the North Cascades, we watch closely for the harbingers of winter’s demise, the robins.
For Paca Pride Guest Ranch, the return of the robins signals an awakening on various fronts. We know we can start growing in the garden again. We know the grass is coming out of dormancy, making for some eager alpacas that want some fresh greens in their diet. We know the tourists are ramping up in numbers too. Typically, what has been a shoulder season for campers seeking outdoor adventure usually has only the diehards venturing out to pitch a tent. However, the number of day hikers are like the robins, suddenly spiking in numbers on your front lawn seeking those worms. Indeed, at the most famous “hidden secret” of a trail, the Robe Canyon Historic Park trail, which leads down to the old Everett & Monte Cristo Railway tunnel, you can quickly lose count of the parked cars at the trailhead.
It’s always been a dilemma for outdoor enthusiasts exploring the Mountain Loop Hwy’s many hiking trails, whether to go hiking or camping. These days it seems the two are somehow mutually exclusive, an either/or proposition. Either you are going hiking or you are going camping. If you go camping, you are committing yourself to a nesting in at a campsite and not wanting to leave it to do much exploring, instead enjoying the local surroundings of your campsite. You just never know how secure your campsite will be if you left it alone for a few hours to go hiking. So, most hikers don’t camp out this way. They choose to plan a day trip hike and not camp.
Fortunately, another tide of change is working itself on the mountain that is making camping much more accessible to those day hikers who dismiss pitching a tent as not worth the effort. Paca Pride Guest Ranch offers a furnished guest yurt, with bed and linens, electricity and even heat. We even have a larger Roundhouse that could be used as an accommodation space. For those hikers and day-trippers out here, it’s beginning to open up so many more options. Yes, you can go on that longer trail you’ve always wanted to try, but didn’t want to get up so early in the morning for the drive out there. Yes, you can explore several hikes over the course of the weekend and return to a cozy bed at a hosted campground. Yes, you can even pitch a tent here and not worry too much about security knowing those same hosts are onsite.
So, as Spring winds itself up and winter retreats into it’s own hibernation, the day-hikers of the Mountain Loop become as numerous as the robins. Like our robin family that chose to makes its nest here at Paca Pride, and return with the kids this year, hikers have the opportunity to nest in the round comfort of a yurt after a long day of adventuresome hiking.