PALOUSE — One of the many benefits of hiking is the fabulous visual vistas it affords and how those views can change your outlook.
Take Rob Fredericks of Moscow. He stood on the ridge leading to the top of Kamiak Butte and drank in scenery visible from the perch that rises above the Palouse. There was Moscow Mountain and Paradise Ridge to the south and east. Far in the distance, he pointed out the timber-covered mountains that make up headwaters of the Palouse River.
“It’s always good to get a different perspective than what you are accustomed to seeing,” he said.
Fitting words for the trail and perhaps a wise outlook on life itself.
About a dozen trekkers representing three different hiking clubs met up at Kamiak Butte County Park on Saturday morning for a mid-winter trek and the chance to alter their perspectives.
The outing was organized by Nicole DeLaCruz of Pullman, a founder of the Palouse Hiking and Sauntering Adventurers.
Members of the Orofino-based Clearwater Trekkers were also on board along with folks from the LC Valley Hikers.
DeLaCruz started her club two years ago in an attempt to congregate with like-minded people looking to stretch their legs and shed, for a moment, the rigors of modern life.
“You meet people you probably would never have met,” she said. “It’s awesome because you get to go explore cool places and learn things from everybody and it’s just hiking the hills and you get out there and it makes you feel better.”
The Clearwater Trekkers have been pounding trails since 2014. Founder Todd Holcomb of Craigmont put the club together with the goal of learning the trails of the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest.
“We try to do at least a hike a month, but it’s hit or miss because life happens,” he said.
The groups attract a wide range of experience.Some join to gobble up miles but most take a more casual approach, he said.
At Kamiak Butte, the hikers chatted as they followed the wide, snow-dusted trail as it switched back under tall Douglas fir trees on the north side of the park before ascending the ridge. They talked of their favorite haunts, exchanged trip tips and mentally compiled bucket-list destinations. They graded gear, shared biographical information and planted the seeds that may bloom into friendships.
“You meet people from all walks of life,” said DeLaCruz of why she likes to hike in groups. “You learn all different kinds of things.”
On the ridge, the towering firs gave way to ponderosa pine trees with their long needles covered in hoarfrost. The frozen tread thawed enough in sun-exposed spots to produce a thin layer of mud. But the shaded areas held their snow and some spots near the 3,641-foot summit were icy slick.
At the top, Rodo Arebalo noted the stunning view to the north and west and a pair of hawks riding thermals above the Palouse but still hundreds of feet below the summit.
“It’s super quiet,” he said, referring not just to that particular spot but of the many places hiking trails lead. “You can hear the wind blow, and when you are out in the forest you can smell the pine scent. It’s such a nice smell. When you are near water you can hear it running. When you have all those elements, it’s something else.”
All remarked that it was “such a nice day,” and good to get out.
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