For the first time in a very long time, Tom and I journeyed forth to see if a trail that was indicated as “accessible” really was. Spoiler alert: not really!
While I am definitely more comfortable walking, and choose to stand at my computer most of the time, walking more than two or three hundred feet will set me back. When I know I have to walk more than a couple hundred feet, or if we will be on uneven ground, or the conditions are unknown or uncertain, I use the wheelchair.
So Tom looked around and found some trails in Grays Harbor county, some of which were new to me, but one – Lake Sylvia – I had heard good things about! I looked it up, and dogs were allowed (on leash) so we put an old sheet over the back seat and loaded everyone and everything in and away we went!
To get to Lake Sylvia, you go into Montesano (the county seat!) via the main exit off state route 8. You wend your way past the main street and municipal buildings, through an old neighborhood and up the hill behind the town. It’s not very far from the center of town to the lovely state park. There is camping available, small non-gasoline watercraft are allowed (we saw mostly kayaks), and fishing happens anywhere a person thinks a line might work. A small boat launch is available for watercraft that require a trailer.
There is a small playground, plenty of restrooms and picnic tables, and a small swimming area (no lifeguard) for children. The park is clearly popular with mountain bikers, families, and day hikers! A “discover pass” is required to visit: $10 per vehicle per day, or buy the Discover Pass when you renew your car tabs for unlimited visits to all state parks.
There is a paved path from the parking area to a wooden bridge that spans a bump at the southern end of the lake. The abutments to the bridge are not excellent – a person in a wheelchair going solo will need to go backwards to safely get up onto the bridge, but the drop isn’t so difficult going the other way. However, past the bridge the path turns to graveled, packed earth and would clearly be mushy and difficult for wheels in extended wet weather. The path can go up on the right or flat/down on the left.
With Tom’s help we started out to the right, but quickly realized that the slope became much too steep for safe wheeled navigation, although just before it reached that point there was a blissfully cool and moist grotto that felt truly miraculous on that warm summer day.
Changing direction we headed to the left-hand branch which was a more gentle ride. For a while. About a quarter mile in (I am completely guessing here! It could have been more – or less) the path started to drop off more and more steeply, and we called it good enough. However, without Tom to push, I would not have been able to go so far – the gravel is definitely more difficult to navigate than pavement, and on uneven/sloping/hummocky surfaces a person would need an “off-road” style chair and a lot of practice/muscles.
Overall, it was a fine excursion. We were at the park a little over an hour, and could have stayed longer with a picnic. Wally wanted to meet EVERY dog personally, but with one exception when he almost escaped from his harness, he followed directions and stayed under control. He definitely enjoyed the new sights and smells; and he was a good passenger both directions once he understood that he had to stay in his own space (we had him tethered, but at one point he accidentally stepped on the release for that and ended up in the front when Tom parked.
If you go in the summer: hats are a very good idea even if you aren’t actually out on the water, as there is a lot of reflected sunlight! Take extra water – Wally drained a waterbottle when we got back to the car, and another bottle of water when we stopped briefly at my classroom on the way home. Tom and I drank our water, too! I would take jackets as well, even on a warm day there was a cooling breeze off the water, and if you went around the entire hiking loop there could be several chilly spots.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures, but here are a few: