Counting the weeks in a diverse and splendid state

Laura Braden - ISAAC HOSEY PHOTO
Isaac Hosey photo
Laura Braden

It was actually hard for me to sit still and read Lauren Braden's new book, 52 Ways to Nature: Washington, because nearly every page had me reaching for the calendar to see when I could find a time to try out some activity or fighting the urge to text someone, "Let's try this!"

The cheerfully designed book is divided by season, and each season's section features more than a dozen activities that, while they often aren't particularly obscure, are for me often wistful musings: "Wouldn't it be fun to try crabbing/clamming/sailing a boat/summiting a mountain/foraging for wild food/biking around an island?" Braden offers all the necessary info to make those daydreams into reality. She also includes numerous activities I hadn't even considered, such as sleeping in a fire lookout or going on a history hike. (But who could resist a four-mile trek to poke around an abandoned mining town east of Everett, Wash?)

Each activity comes with detailed how-to's — equipment checklists, advice on staying safe while having fun, and nuts and bolts like parking info. But what's most impressive are the numerous locations Braden has scouted for each and every activity. As a result, the book contains far more than 52 adventures. Formerly the communications director for the Washington Trails Association, Braden seems to have developed firsthand knowledge of every crevice of our diverse state, and while her suggested locations are somewhat skewed toward the west side, there are plenty of Central and Eastern Washington locales sprinkled in as well.

Each activity also includes a Nature Notebook section — a page or so that's left mostly blank for adventurers to document their own experiences, including a writing or drawing prompt to guide the creative interlude. In the process, the guidebook will develop into a unique journal, offering a vicarious revisit when it's not practical to venture out.

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About The Author

Anne McGregor

Anne McGregor is a contributor to the Inlander and the editor of InHealth. She is married to Inlander editor/publisher Ted S. McGregor, Jr.