By JERRY HITCHCOCK
With raindrops trying to dampen our spirit, dog and man loaded up in the truck and headed west, ready for some exercise and nice views at Q’emiln Park in Post Falls.
It had been years since I hiked there, and Journey had never set a paw in the place.
With the liquid sunshine going strong on the first day of June, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. I noticed when I pulled up to the trailhead that the city had added a few more parking places and improved the landscaping around all the trail entrances. It’s a very clean design and adds to the appeal of the park.
Journey, as always, was raring to go as soon as I shut off the engine. He, like me, doesn’t pay much attention to temperature or the amount of sunlight present. Once I got some insect repellent applied, off we went.
The hiking trails within a 40-acre area at Q’emiln, while not long in distance, make up for it in elevation changes. Granite is everywhere, and luckily the larger, tilted rocks on the trail weren’t slippery enough to slow either of us down, although there were times Journey would whine at the sight of a steep downhill section. Accordingly, I’d hoist him up and we’d cautiously make our way through the nooks and crannies.
We started at the Scree trailhead, one of a few ways to access the trail system currently. The Riverside Trail starts just to the north, and both end up at a sweeping panoramic view of the Spokane River below the Avista Dam.
Once you’ve had enough view, it’s time to descend a little further. Soon you are in the canyon, with a little stream flowing through. A new bridge has been added which takes you to the rest of the trails at the park. The Third Channel and High Meadow trails head off to the northwest, and a short jaunt to the south drops you off at the Wagon Trail, which is a much wider path and it is also the longest trail currently in the park, at just over a half mile. Most other trails are under a quarter mile in length, but as I said previously, they make up for it due to elevation gains and subtractions.
Journey is an old hand now, gliding up and down the jagged rocks within the length of the leash. We’ve done a few hikes at English Point and Tubbs Hill in similar terrain. Sometimes I think he’s a little frustrated when he effortlessly bounds up the steep sections and has to hesitate now and then to make sure I’m keeping up, to avoid a wipeout via a tight leash. He paused here and there in the canyon to take in his surroundings — hear the birds and small animals calling to each other and scurrying about. He’d stop abruptly when an interesting scent needed attention.
Cove View Trail is at the far northwest of the park, and the city recently purchased land to the west, allowing for extended hiking and even more photo opportunities.
Once we’d had our fill and both of us were panting, we headed east and made our way back to the trailhead. Since it was a wet day, no climbers were present in the park. Normally you’d see a few traversing the large rock faces, a perfect area to hone the skills needed to take on something of a great magnitude.
And we enjoyed the solitude. Besides, there was plenty to see and hear, and Journey got in that morning exercise to justify his long, afternoon nap.
As we arrived back at the truck, the sun peeked out. I tried to convince the pup we needed to head back and gather another round of photos, but he would have none of it. “C’mon,” Journey’s face exclaimed. “We’ve been there, done that, and besides, my lunch and a nap are beckoning back at the house.”
A few seagulls swooped down close to the truck as we made our way back across the bridge over the river and back into Post Falls. The pup barely noticed the intrusion — too focused on food and a snooze to care.
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Jerry Hitchcock can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2017, via email at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at HitchTheWriter.