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7 things to do outside on Valentine’s Day (or shortly thereafter)

Well, shoot.

Anthony’s is booked solid Wednesday. So is Mizuna. I haven’t checked, but I’d guess Italia Trattoria is a no-go.

Sure, Atilano’s is an option, but isn’t that where you went last year for Valentine’s Day (or was that just me)?

Don’t fear, procrastinator. Instead of scrambling to find a table at an expensive and too-busy restaurant, why not take your Love Interest into the outdoors?

Here are some options.

1. Hike Mount Spokane

Pack a meal and a bottle of wine and hike up Mount Spokane for some nighttime snowshoeing.

Two options: Head to the snowshoe warming hut (easier) or the CCC Cabin (moderate). Pack some candles to set a romantic mood (plus, there is no electricity).

As an alternative to snowshoeing, you could head to the Selkirk Lodge (by the Nordic Ski area) and cross-country ski. No candles needed. There is electricity.

Or, branch out. Mount Spokane has loads of trails. Check out mountspokane.org for routes and information.

But remember, your car needs to be gone from the parking lot by 10 p.m. And you’ll need a Sno-Park permit. Permits cost $40 and can be purchased at park.state.wa.us/134/Permits. To park at plowed areas with trail grooming, such as at the Selkirk Lodge at the cross-country ski park, add a $40 grooming sticker to your Sno-Park Pass.

2. Ski Mount Spokane

If in-bounds fun is more your style, Mount Spokane and REI are hosting a Valentine’s Day ski special. Start skiing as early as 9 a.m. on Wednesday and receive a $30 discount on day tickets. If you’re a wage slave, head up at 3:30 p.m. for some night skiing (discounts available).

There will be partner competitions, with prizes, starting at 5 p.m. A screening of TGR’s “Rogue Elements” starts at 6:30 p.m. in the lodge two garage.

For information: www.rei.com/event/for-the-love-of-powder/mead/195245

3. Hike Antoine Peak

Even closer to Spokane, Antoine Peak is a great place to catch the sunset, said Holly Weiler, a hiking leader for the Spokane Mountaineers and the Washington Trails Association’s Eastern Washington coordinator.

She recommends starting from the west trailhead and hiking to the first big viewpoint about sixth-tenths of mile from the trailhead. It overlooks the Spokane Valley. The trail is snow free, she said. Still, traction devices might be a good idea.

To access the west trailhead, take Pines exit 289. Drive north on Pines to Trent Avenue. Go east on Trent for roughly 1 mile to Evergreen Road. Go north on Evergreen, which will turn into Forker Road, approximately 2.5 miles from the intersection with Bigelow Gulch and Brevier Road. Turn east on Brevier and drive roughly 1 mile.

For information: wta.org/go-hiking and search Antoine Peak.

4. Hike to Big Rock

Depending on the weather this can be an enjoyable, vigorous and simple outing.

Head to the Steven’s Creek trailhead off the Palouse Highway south of Spokane. It’s about a 30-minute drive from downtown Spokane. From there, hike to the Iller Creek area of the Dishman Hills Conservancy. It’s a bit more than a mile from the trailhead parking lot to Big Rock, the largest rock formation in the area.

From that vantage point, sweeping views of the Palouse will make the steep hike worth it. Be prepared: It gets windy. Pack appropriately.

For trail information: www.dishmanhills.org/Maps.

5. Paddle the Little Spokane

For the brave (and competent) of heart.

Take a boat down the Little Spokane River.

Most paddlers put in between the Spokane Fish Hatchery and St. George’s School and float to Painted Rocks access on Rutter Parkway or continue a total of 6 miles to the takeout between SR 291 and the Spokane River confluence.

Unless you’re able to leave early in the day, this activity is better suited for the weekend.

6. Hike (near) the Little Spokane

Not into water activities in February? I hardly blame you.

Another good hiking option near Spokane is the Knothead Loop Trail. Like paddling, this 7-mile loop might be best saved for a weekend. Or started early Wednesday, if you have that luxury.

It’s a vigorous hike, gaining 1,000 feet in elevation. The trail can get icy, so bring traction devices. Because the trail goes through a natural area, no dogs or bikes are allowed.

The Knothead Trail is accessible from either the intersection of Highway 291 and North River Park Lane, or the Indian Painted Rocks Trailhead from Rutter Parkway.

For information: wta.org/go-hiking and search Knothead Loop Trail.

7. Cruise Tinder for climbing partners

For the single folks: Jump on your favorite dating app.

But instead of cracking dumb jokes, taking photos in front of your cars/dead animals/guns/artwork, etc., why not look for a climbing partner?

You two can head to the Bloc Yard Bouldering Gym or Wild Walls. But if you’re roping up, make sure you have adequate protection. Make your date pass a belay test.

This is an unproven method. And based on a cursory scanning of the internet, not everyone agrees. For a total refutation of what I just wrote check out: HOW (NOT) TO FIND A CLIMBING PARTNER from REI’s blog.


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