The first kiddo hike of 2022. Finally. Unless hitting the Snoqualmie Valley Trail counts. Except we do that so often it’s not very exciting. Yeah, no—it doesn’t count. At least not toward my goal of taking the kiddos hiking at least once a week in 2022. That’s the plan (revised with starting in February). And this week, the younger gals and I hit the Maple Valley Gnome Trail. The one downer with our schedule this school year is that we don’t have a weekday where all the kiddos are home. Blaise and Laine missed out yesterday. Next school year, they’ll all be off on Fridays.
The Gnome Trail has been on my list for a while. Long before they moved locations. Memories of Evans Creek pop in my head when I hear anything gnome. Such a bummer they were banned. I still look for left-behind gnomes when I’m there but have yet to see any. And hitting the Maple Valley Gnome Trail was questionable at first. Thankfully it didn’t disappoint.
We arrived around noon, taking the back roads through Issaquah to get there. The parking lot is incredibly large for the trails there. Maybe it’s super popular on warmer weekends but it feels like there are waaaay more parking spots than there will ever be people on the trail at the same time. But I have parking anxiety—not parking itself but finding an open spot—when it comes to trail parking so the large lot was very welcomed. There were two other cars in the large lot, then us, and a fourth car parked as we started on the trail. The fourth car parked right next to the first and second cars, who were parked next to each other. I would love to study psychology and why people do what they do. The entire, massive parking lot and three cars parked side-by-side. Nothing wrong with this but I would love to understand the reasons why stuff like this happens.
Gnomes! And hiking gals.
Of course we stopped for the obligatory starting photo. Gnomes! And then nothing. There were a few Gnome signs posted on trees, along with Legacy Loop trail signs. But nothing with directions. We went straight from the parking lot into the trees and then winged it. The trails are nicely maintained and it’s clear where trails diverge. But still no directional signs. And no gnomes. We found a few more signs, Leave it to Beaver and Bear Square, and still no gnomes. As we trekked down one trail, we passed another family. The kiddos waved and said hello. As we walked past, the mom asked me where all the gnomes were. I said that this was our first time and we had yet to see any. She said she had come last May and there were so many gnomes, all over the trails. And that she had only seen one this day. We chatted a bit and she concluded they probably moved the gnomes for the winter or maybe they removed them completely. We said our goodbyes and I thought maybe the trails were degnomed like what happened at Evans Creek. It was disappointing to hear but we figured we’d still nose around the trails, looking for the one gnome the woman mentioned seeing.
No gnomes. And hiking gals!
Still no gnomes. Or gnome. But we found some buttons hanging from a branch and a butterfly on a wire stuffed into a downed tree. And of course tree stumps and logs to climb on.
We ended up down a trail that dead-ends on private property. As we turned on a trail moving away from the private property, we ran into another young family asking if we knew how to get to the parking lot. Nope. We were just going for it with no plan. I figured we could always backtrack if needed. It’s not that largest trail system; I wasn’t worried about getting lost. The young couple decided to head toward the trail we came from and away from the private property in hopes they’d find the parking lot. I’m sure they did. After we said our goodbyes, gnomes galore! Jackpot. The girls had to check out every single gnome we came across. And of course they asked me to take pictures of them all. I obliged by taking pictures of some of them. It would have taken an entire afternoon to find all the gnomes and take pictures of them all.
It was just us and the gnomes, with nobody else around. My kind of hiking day. I came across a comment on a hiking TikTok that said I love everyone who is with me when I hike alone. Exactly. Except my alone includes kiddos. And while I tend to avoid people at all costs, I feel like other hikers get a pass. Anyone who is out and about on a trail, surrounded by nature, they’re probably my kind of people. Except for hikers who blast music. Not cool. As long as there is a large distance between others—and I can find a parking spot—the more the merrier on trails.
More trail action. And one tiny little gnome on the log. Cute!
The girls nosed around the gnomes for about an hour before we decided to call it an outing. On our way back, we ran into a couple without kiddos—they had a super cute pup and two hiking cats! They offered the kiddos to pet their crew and the girls were all over this opportunity. Dog and cats pet, check. Back to the parking lot. Turns out from the parking lot where we went straight on the trail, if we had turned left, we would have found the gnomes right away. The trail to the left that we didn’t take from the start is a slight hill. The girls ran down and up the sucker a few times. Thankfully Maive didn’t eat it like I thought she would.
In the car, the girls asked about going back again. We’ll make this happen, with Blaise and Laine next time. I know they’ll like seeing and finding all the gnomes also. And next time, we’ll bring a gnome or two and contribute to the stash.
My plan was to head straight home, again on the back roads. But the girls had been so great that I figured I’d treat them to Happy Boxes—as Saige calls them—at McDonalds. Maybe I’m getting old and crotchety but man, the Drive-Thru kid. I said I was going to order three Happy Meals. He said, “Okay, ready when you are.” I start with the first one and when I said “…with a chocolate mi—” he cut me off and asked, “That all?” I said no, two more Happy Meals. I order the second one and end with “…also with a chocolate mi—” another, “That all?” cutting me off. Again with, “That all?” on the third Happy Meal order. At least I got to say, “Yes, that’s all,” the third time I was cut off. Nobody was behind me. Nobody was in front of me. Eh, I’m pretty easy going but the more I interact with society, the more I want to be home. Or on a trail.
Until the next hike. Hopefully Friday.