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Learning to Embrace the Cold and Rainy PNW Shoulder Season

This blog post is part of our Discover the Northwest story series where we work with some of our favorite local explorers by asking them to go on an adventure, take over our Instagram Stories and create a blog post about the adventure life. This post was written by Seattle Bred’s Kaelee Butner, a PNW born explorer determined to create meaning through experiences and adventures in nature.

Planning a weekend adventure during fall in the PNW is a lesson in adapting and resilience. If you get too hung up on your ideal adventure, you are going to be disappointed. Plan A might be the shining beacon of hope leading you into the weekend, but as the weather forecast becomes less of a mystery Plans B, C, and D often come out of the back pocket. The only plan that’s off the table? Staying home.

This is how my adventure with Pyramid Brewing began. I went back and forth with my friend over different backpacking trips and scrambles we might check off our bucket lists. As our chosen weekend came closer, we realized our top objective had a 90% chance of snow. While disappointed, we quickly moved on to plan B: Car camping in the North Cascades with a side of trail running. As we packed on Friday night, we learned our chosen destination would also be getting snow. It was time to pull out Plan C which involved staying closer to home and putting the camping gear back in the closet. Don’t worry, the cooler of Pyramid Beer still came along.

2020 was supposed to be the year of my first 50K race, but like many things in 2020, it was cancelled due to COVID-19. I deferred my entry to 2021 and have been doing my best to keep training until then. Since the weather looked soggy or snowy everywhere in the state, we drove to Otter Falls in the North Bend area for a training trail run. I packed my vest with all of the essentials in order to keep myself warm and safe while we were outside.

I’ve always struggled with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which makes living in Seattle difficult most winters. Over the years I have learned that no matter how awful the weather gets, getting outside is pivotal for keeping me sane during the dark winter months. Each year I add a new activity that keeps me outside as much as possible, and each year I notice SAD has less and less of a hold on me. Getting outside with friends and loved ones is a great way to keep my spirits up, and a celebratory beer at the end of the adventure is the perfect way to top it off.

As for our trail run to Otter Falls, the weather ended up being even soggier than forecasted. We made it to the first of three waterfalls when the sky completely opened up on us and the trail turned into a miniature creek. It got to a point where all we could do was laugh and splash through the water on our way back to the car. We may not have finished our adventure as planned, but it was still an adventure nonetheless.

Kaelee Butner

Kaelee Butner cheers photo with Pyramid Brewing in nature after trail running