It happens every year: that familiar chill in the wind, rain drops clinging to every surface, the fading light toward the end of the day – all signify the time people of the Pacific Northwest know as the rainy season. The long days of summer give way to darkness. To most, the transition is accepted as an inevitable part of the year. Everyone reluctantly moves activities indoors. Long walks on the beach become long days reading by the fire, and picnics by the lake become warm soups while watching Netflix. Not everyone is content, however, to simply give up on outdoor fun during this time of year. Local photographer Elly Condit muses, “Oregonians like it most when it’s moist!”
Being a photographer, Condit is accustomed to braving the elements in all kinds of weather to get the best shot. She says she actually prefers the outdoors when the weather starts to change. “Honestly, hikes are easier in the rain. The woods are never greener, and the temperature is never more perfect than when it’s raining.”
Avid hiker Kyle Fitts agrees. “I’ve done extensive hiking in the area. You can’t get a more perfect landscape than this. When the weather turns wet, you just have to gear up and get out there.” Fitts feels that getting the right gear is the number one thing a person can do to help them enjoy being outside even when it’s not ideal weather. “You’ve got to invest in a solid raincoat. I’m not talking a plastic, yellow style raincoat – I mean a truly waterproof slick that also has a liner so you don’t have to add that layer if it’s not needed.”
Wearing the right clothes is not the only thing that will make venturing out of doors easier this season. Fitts says choosing the right area for your adventure is just as important. “There are some great spots that don’t get too muddy and are out of the wind.” Fort Stevens State Park, previously a military installation that sits at the mouth of the Columbia River in Hammond, is ideal for those that prefer flat, easy walks that are easily accessed even if the wind picks up. There are miles of paved trails that don’t require any kind of hiking gear. The views are that of the interior of the park, thick with old growth trees, moss and mushrooms.
Netul Landing, a section of Fort Clatsop, is another great rainy-day option. The Netul Trail, while not paved, is mostly flat and is covered in small, coarse rocks that offer sure footing. The path winds along the Lewis and Clark River and is partially guarded by the wind and rain by thick foliage on either side. “The only drawback to Netul Trail is that there are a few raised wooden surfaces that take you over the wetland. If it’s at all icy, I would avoid that part of the trail,” Fitts suggests.
It seems the consensus from local outdoor enthusiasts is to simply get out there. Fitts says, “It rains for a good part of the year here. If you hide away for half the year, you’re going to get stir crazy! The rush of warmth and warm food is the reward for getting up and out into the cold according to Condit. “It’s a lush and beautiful experience that leaves you enchanted and ready for warm snuggles.”
Everyone that has lived day in and day out on the coast has their own reasons for why this time of year is special to them. For Ashlee Burke, local model and tattoo parlor maven, that reason is all about reconnecting with the place she lives. “When the rain comes, it’s like a soft veil of peaceful intimacy envelops the town, washing away tourists and stirring the locals’ desire to explore the depths and peaks of the misty magic of Astoria.”