Travel Nurses, Annie and Sam, live small and travel often in their RV alongside their two daughters and two dogs. When they are not busy saving lives and homeschooling, they make the most of their time off;going on adventures and making memories. Read about their latest adventure on the Hiawatha Trail!
We packed our bikes, lights, and helmets, and set out for a day of bike riding with our two girls. Adventures like this are exactly why we decided to pursue Travel Nursing as a family. This trail takes you on a journey through 15 miles of gorgeous scenery, along with 10 train tunnels and 7 “sky-high” trestles. The very first tunnel, St. Paul Pass, is 1.6 miles long, pitch black, and 45 degrees. The slightly downhill slope made it family-friendly and possible to happily enjoy the entire trail. We will never forget this adventure.
As travel nurses, once we settle into a new assignment, we start asking the locals about the best places to check out in the area. We quickly learned to take the advice we receive and soak in the nearby adventures. We started hearing about the Hiawatha Trail and knew it was something we wanted to do. Living in Spokane, WA we are within arm’s reach to so many incredible outdoor opportunities. This trail in particular is only an hour and a half from the hospital we work at, which made it one of the most amazing day trips we’ve been on.
The trail requires bikes, lights, and helmets; we brought our own, but everything is available for rent as needed. We bought our trail passes and shuttle tickets online and picked them up at Lookout Pass Ski Lodge nearby. Once we collected our supplies at the lodge, followed their detailed map (with pictures) to the top of the mountain, prepared our bikes, and received a safety briefing at the trailhead, we were on our way!
On the trail, we immediately entered the 1.6 mile St. Paul Pass tunnel. It is darker and colder than we anticipated. Turns out, the cheap bike lights we bought just wouldn’t do the trick! Luckily, Sam brought a headlamp too. Our hands were immediately cold and our eyes were doing everything they could to adjust to the dim light from our bikes. We could hear the water dripping from the tunnel walls and ceiling as it collected in the dark gutters on the side of the trail. The mood of the tunnel was just what we needed to get our hearts pumping and ready for the rest of the trail.
Once we exited the tunnel, we were surrounded by the stunning beauty of the mountains and treetops. We coasted along the trail and went through 3 more tunnels before taking our first break on one of the 7 trestles. The view was amazing. We were looking down on the treetops and out at the mountain ranges. We could see parts of the trail where we had been and where we were going. Even though it was still a bit hazy from the recent fires, the views were beautiful. We grabbed some trail snacks and decided to press on.
It was amazing how quickly the trail went from this point on. The dynamics of it were so incredible and always kept us busy. Going in and out of tunnels, over more bridges, around scenic bends…there was always something new and exciting to look at. The slight downhill slope kept us all moving and smiling.
Even though we had been riding for 15 miles, when we saw the end was near, I think all of us wanted to keep going. There are tents full of refreshments at the end of the trail, so we picked up a treat for the kiddos and then jumped onto the shuttle bus. Some incredibly nice people help load up all the bikes into a trailer to make the process that much easier. The ride to the top is less than 15 minutes, and windy but scenic. They drop you off right before the St Paul Pass tunnel. So lucky for the trail riders, you get to do that part twice! We zipped up our jackets and feeling slightly more prepared on round two, headed into the tunnel with confidence.
We got back to the car and all of us felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. We were tired, covered in dirt, and happy. We were so proud of the kids for powering through such a long and dynamic trail. It is in moments like this, that we are so grateful that we chose to pack up our lives, and take on travel nursing, as a family. This is why we are doing this. These moments, these adventures, these opportunities. Before this travel assignment, we didn’t even know that this place existed. And now it will live on forever if our bank of unforgettable memories.
Thank you, Travel Nurses, Inc., for sponsoring us on such an incredible adventure! And a special thanks to our recruiter, Shelby, for always being so encouraging of our family travel.
– Annie, Sam, Kai, and Savannah
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