OPINION: Explore the Palouse

When it's safe to do so, check out the many hidden gems of Whitman County

From+wheat+fields+to+waterfalls%2C+the+Palouse+is+full+of+secret+outdoor+treasures.+

ANISSA CHAK

From wheat fields to waterfalls, the Palouse is full of secret outdoor treasures.

MEGHAN HENRY, Evergreen columnist

As the smoke from so many fires are converging on Pullman this week, I am reminded of all the beautiful places on the Palouse I have yet to see.

Though the area is known fondly for its wheat fields, it is also a home for many unexpected, unknown lookouts and hikes.

For those who feel cooped up during online classes — online everything, really — this is the perfect opportunity to explore all the hidden gems on the Palouse.

Abby Scott is a sophomore pre-pharmacy major. She’s friends with juniors Jenna Chandler, criminal justice and criminology and Spanish double major, and Natalie Guinasso, history major. All three friends took the opportunity of the long Labor Day weekend to explore a new part of the area — Palouse Falls.

“It was its own kind of outdoorsy adventure,” Chandler said. “It was just different than I would be used to [in San Diego].”

When asked how they first heard about Palouse Falls, all three women paused to think.

“I have always heard about it and so many of my friends have gone there,” Scott said, “so I was just like, maybe we should go.”

Like so many of the best spots on the Palouse, this seems to be one that you have to hear about through the grapevine.

“The best part about Palouse Falls was swimming,” Guinasso said. “We swam, we did some jumping off some rocks.”

They all laughed, reminiscing.

“It felt like we were driving to the middle of nowhere,” Scott said.

In the middle of the wheat fields, that’s what it all feels like.

But that is exactly what adds to the attraction. Part of the love we have for Pullman is its departure from the busyness of the cities we come from.

While it may lack the fancier restaurants and tourist attractions, we hold a deeper fondness for its long backroads down to the Snake River, with the deep green, sheer cliffs that remind us of Ireland in the spring.

Or Kamiak Butte — which Chandler highly recommends for stargazing — for its expansive views of the farmland in every direction.

“It’s just far enough away that the stars are really pretty, but you don’t have to go too far,” Chandler said.

In our favorite neighboring town of Moscow, Idaho, students have found the perfect day getaways, too.

“We went to a park in Moscow and had a little picnic there,” Chandler said.

“It was a really cute park, the trees were really pretty … I just don’t know what it’s called,” Guinasso said.

Guinasso explained its location the way most Pullman students do — by landmarks only they would know.

Even small places like these — ones we look over in our own home cities — become the sites for our fondest memories here. They are some of the best places to get away while the pandemic brings us inside more and more often.

“I think it’s kind of just these fun little places in the middle of a wheat field, which, maybe they wouldn’t even be that great anywhere else … especially this year when we’ve all been stuck in our apartments only doing school, I feel like I’ve had no ‘outdoor time,” Chandler said. “So now the time that I have had to get outdoors — I love it a lot more. I value it a lot more.”

As we continue to make our way through this semester and this pandemic, we have to take advantage of the outdoors while we can.

The Palouse has so many great spots to offer; we simply have to make time to seek them out.