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February 20, 2005

Frosty Tiger Mountain

We have been having remarkable weather. The jet-stream seems to have split and we are getting sun while Southern California and the Southwest is getting rain. That means even more flowers for us. It was time to hit the trail.

G wanted to so Mount Si but I wasn't really interesting in that long of a hike. So we decided on doing Section Line trail on Tiger Mountain. It was sunny but cold. Little did we know there were also icy roads. The first indicator was the DOT sand time coming on I90. Then there were the flares. The right lane was frosty white. Sure enough there was a spin out and Jeep Cheroke in the ditch. Too bad they took out the back of a State Patrol car first.

We parked, put on the boots and gingerly walked up the road to the trailhead. The frost was beautiful. We headed off to Nook trail and away from the crowds. The cold was nipping at my cheeks but I was warm. Soon we made the junction from Nook to Section line. It is such a killer. Straight up. It was a little bit icy in spots but not bad. The really steep part is under thick evergreen forest so it was not slippery. But that last part after Railroad. You think you are almost there and there is still a kill 1/2 mile. But finally we broke out into the sun. Such a gorgeous day. Views to the east of Cascade foothills. To the West, the Olympics and the Seattle skyline. You could even see the Space Needle.

After a Luna bar and a Clif shot, time to go down. It was so busy and icy. I almost slipped once or twice. But it went fast. It wasn't bad until we got almost to the car and it was slippery and frosty still.

Overall a great winter hike. 5 miles - 2:45 time.

August 3, 2005

Mt. Rainier




I just started trying out Flickr. I'm mainly using it to post pictures for the NW hikers board but it is fun.

April 21, 2006

Washington Desert in Bloom

We have our own desert here in the state of Washington. You may not think of Washington as a desert state but the Columbia Basin area of Eastern Washington is a high desert. It is a favorite place for us to roam in the Spring and enjoy the wildflowers.

The wildflowers this year are going to be great. It has been an above-normal year in rainfall. We have also had a colder year so Spring is coming slowly. We had hoped to get out last weekend but it was rainy and cold. It even snowed down to 2,000ft!

But we knew it was time to go so even the rain couldn't stop us. I knew from the reports on NW Hikers Forum that the bloom was running about two weeks behind. G won't be able to get out the next few weeks because of Smartyplants plant sales so it was now or wait.

We decided on Vantage area because it was lower in elevation and we wanted to try to find Salvia dorrii. A little googling for where it occured and I found it listed on Turner Photographics as being located in the area. The backcountry hike at Ginkgo Petrified Forest in Vantage would give us a chance to check it out along with views of the Columbia. I highly recommend Best Desert Hikes: Washington for planning.

After tangling with traffic, we made it to Ellensburg by 10:30am. We decided to drive out the backroad on Vantage Highway to see what might be happening at Whiskey Dick also. We had seen some great wildflowers there in April 1998. I don't know how much longer we will be able to find flowers in this region because PSE is building a wind farm.

We didn't see many flowers until we got to the interpretive trail in the park and boy what flowers! The arrow-leaf balsamroot was in full bloom waving in the wind. It was surrounded by large clumbs of showy phlox which perfumed the air. It was intoxicating. We went on to the trailhead for the backcountry. It was a little scary having to walk up the canyon through the black basalt rocks knowing it was a prime location for rattlesnakes. We keep our hiking sticks poised and made lots of noise. It is still too cold.

At the top of the bluff we were treated to a spectacular desert garden and gorgeous views of the river at our feet. We meandered shooting photos and investigating. It was hard to go back. We're going back in a couple of weeks to see the cactus.

Here are some pictures from flickr:
Arrowleaf Balsamroot overlooking the Columbia River Showy Phlox (Phlox speciosa)
Arrowleaf Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)

May 19, 2006

Beezley Canyon Preserve

We finally got a chance to get out and check out the in Eastern Washington flowers. The heat pushed the blooms and most of the flowers were past. 90 degrees in Quincy in May and the flowers are not going to last long.

Birdhouse at Hayward Road We headed off over Snoqualmie Pass. It was 50 degrees at the pass so we knew it was going to be hot. Our first stop was Hayward Road and we pulled off at Cle Elum and headed towards Hwy 10. Along the way the lupine and balsamroot was in full bloom. We turned off on Hayward Road and found lots of Douglas's Triteleia, Penstemon in addition to balsamroot.

Salvia dorrii - near Vantage Then it was off to Quincy. We joined I90 at Ellensburg and headed toward Vantage. Just before we got to Vantage, we notice that there was a different blue/purple flower on the hillsides. The purple sage - Salvia dorrii was in bloom. We pulled off at Vantage and headed towards Wanapum dam. We found it right off in full bloom. Stunning!

Back on the road, next stop was Beezley Canyon Preserve. We had hoped that there might be a few hedgehog cactus still in bloom but no luck. We found a lot of the cactus plants but the blooms were past. The bitterroot almost made up for it.

We decide to make a loop out of it and headed towards Wenatchee and Stevens Pass. The lupine and balsamroot were in full bloom from Peshastin up the pass. The river as reported was running high and wild through Tumwater Canyon. Along the wall we saw a few plants of Lewisia Tweedii.

Here are some additional photos from my flickr collection:
Beezley Hills Horny Toad at Beezley Hills
bitterroot Indian Paintbrush

July 7, 2006

Esmeralda Basin

We finally got a chance to make it back up Esmeralda Basin. It has been several years and our last trip was in the fall. It has a great spring bloom.

It was the usual 2.5 hour drive from Seattle to the trailhead. The road up the Teanaway is very good but we got stuck behind a horse trailer and it was slow and dusty. Cough... Cough...

The parking lot was pretty full but it is shared with the Ingalls Lake and Long Pass trails. We saw few people on the trail.

The trail starts in the woods and after 1/4 mile it passes the trail to Ingalls Lake. Shortly after the junction, we crossed some of the many side streams and started seeing wildflowers. At first, it was mainly penstemon, lewisia and delphenium. Gorgeous blue delpheniums.

A bit further, we came across one of the great meadows along the trail. It was filled with just past shooting stars and just starting to bloom Elephant Heads. We had some nice views of the surrounding peaks. Farther along, the steam followed the trail and looking closely along the mossy edges we found a native sundew. It is always great to find native insectivorous plants.

We continued on and emerged out of the tree into the rocky serpentine area. The scarlet gila was just starting to bloom. We stopped for lunch under the shade of a low pine.

The trail continued up and re-entered the trees. Here we came across amazing slopes of shooting stars among the streams. We could see the saddle of Fortune Pass above but first the trail would make a couple of wide switch back up the slope gaining us more views down the basin.

After about 2 hours we made the pass. Here among the silvered snags we looked out over the Alpine Lakes wilderness and Mt. Daniel in the distance.

A quick trip down and it was out for burgers in Cle Elum before heading home.

Some shots from Flickr
Meadow on Esmeralda Basin trailsundewView down Esmeralda BasinSnag at Fortune Pass - Esmeralda Basin

March 23, 2007

Spring on Cougar Mountain

A sure sign of spring is the sight of trilliums along the trail. We saw our first trillium last weekend on the Red Hill trail in Cougar Mountain. Along with trillium, we also saw red currant and indian plums.

The days are still very gray and we had a light frost recently so I haven't caught "Spring Fever" yet. Come on sun. Shine.

April 6, 2007

Ancient Lakes

There is something mysterious and inspiring visiting the majestic coulees of Central Washington. One moment you are driving through the fields of the potato heartland of the Northwest. Green stretching to the horizon with pipes shaped as spiral dragons delivering the lifeblood water to the barren desert. The next moment columns of basalt rise high above your head and dust gathers at your feet where an ancient lake once existed.

Our destination; Ancient Lakes is a set of several small lakes ringing the base of a coulee rising up above the Columbia River near Babcock bench. They are one of many lakes in the Quincy NWR and just a few miles from the Cave B Inn where we stayed. The day was clear and bright with a slight chill in the air; perfect for a hike. It was probably possible to see the lake area from our room but to get there, we had to drive back out to the highway, skirt around Quincy NWR and approach the trailhead from the north.

The road headed west from Quincy through apple orchards. You could smell the sulfur from the dormant spray. None of the orchards were in bloom except a single apricot orchard. The white blossoms contrasting against the blue sky. A couple of apiaries boxes had been dropped off. The bees were busy at work pollinating the blossoms for future fruit.

The road turned south and paralleled the Columbia River. We were soon under a huge basalt cliff dotted with spots of yellow balsamroot and white phlox. We were shortly at the trail head. We stretched a bit and booted up. The sun felt warm and we left our vests in the car.

The trail was dusty. We walked among the sagebrush and headed away from the river. In the distance, we could see the lakes. Along the basalt cliffs, wispy ribbons of water fell from the fields above. In the distance, we could see a few parties of horse riders out for a morning ride.

The faint breeze whispered in our ears and the cries of the meadow lark broke the silence. We thought we heard cranes but never saw them. The lakes were dotted with a few ducks and other water fowl. But we saw no flowers. It didn't take long to reach the viewpoint between the lakes. We sat an a camp and rested while listening to the waterfall in the distance.

It was noon and time to return. By now the sun had moved and the river was a glimmer in the distance. The majestic vistas reminded us of the grandeur of the west as we made our way back to the car.

July 15, 2007

Bandera Mountain

Bandera

I haven't been motivated to get on the trail much this year. I need to get out more. G is making a point of getting me on the trail in preparation for France. Two weeks ago we went up Rattlesnake which was pretty nice but busy. Today we went up Bandera.

The original plan was to go to Mason Lake. The trail is in great shape all the way. We picked up our friend around 9am and headed to the trailhead. It is just off I-90 about 45 miles east of Seattle. Very easy and very popular.

The road to the trailhead had been washed out by the major storm we had in December. They fixed it in April but it is quite amazing to see the slope of destruction and realize the power of water. There are trees stacked upon trees and boulders up the slope.

Once at the trailhead, we tried to sign-in but they were out of permits. So much for keeping track of who is on the trail. The first mile is a nice shaded walk passing two streams. The incline is mild. The trail then branches off to the left and starts some serious climbing. This is the new Ira Spring Trail and it is in great shape. We did this trail in 2003 before they new trail opened and it was brutal climb.

The trail climbs steadily and crosses several openings where you can see I-90.Along the way, you can see penstemon, Indian paintbrush, ocean spray, lupine and charming dogwood. The clouds had burned off and it was getting warm. After a couple of large switchbacks, we got to the junction of the trail, if you can call it that, to the top of Bandera.

I wasn't that interested in going on the additional mile to the lake. It would just be swampy and full of bugs. So we decide to climb part of the way up to Bandera for the vistas. This final mile is a killer. The incline is about 45 degrees and it is a narrow little path of boulders. We were a week late for the wildflowers. Last week, the bear grass was stunning. But the over 90 degree days had taken a toll on the flowers and they were fried.

We went about 1/2 way up and pull off the trail onto some boulders. Here we sat among the heather, knickaknick, paintbrush and bear grass admiring the vistas while eating our lunch. Going down was actually worse than going up. It is a slippery ankle buster. We carefully went back down and joined the new trail.

The rest of the way back to the car was muggy and overcast. The patches of shade provided cool relief. Overall - 6 hours, 2000ft elevation gain, 4 miles RT.

Here are a few pictures:

Dogwood

On the Bandera Trail

I-90 from Bandera Mountain Trail

February 16, 2008

Edmonds Waterfront Photo Walk

The color of the sky as far as I can see is coal grey.
Lift my head from the pillow and then fall again.
With a shiver in my bones just thinking about the weather.

Weather - 10,000 Maniacs

Another unpredictable weekend. The forecast was for sun but it has played hide and seek today. I did get a chance to drag myself away from the computer and I went for a walk along the Edmonds waterfront. The temps were around 50 degrees so I rolled up my sleeves and hoped to get some vitamin D. It was busy along the waterfront. Walkers and brave souls taking their boats out were out along the waterfront.

Come along with me on a walk along the waterfront.

February 17, 2008

Tour de Coal Creek

Finally a sunny day! We needed to get outside like everyone else. There has been a tremendous amount of snow here in the Northwest. Here are some pictures on Stevens Pass from the WA department of transportation. I'm so amazed to hear of over 100 inches of snow on Snoqualmie and Stevens. I mean, those are totals normal for Mt. Rainier.

So we hit the trail today. We decided to do Cougar which actually is a part of a Bellevue suburb. It is a King County Park and you can feel like you are miles away. That is except for the rifle sounds from a near by gun park. But it was still nice to get out and enjoy the sun. We even got up close and personal with a pair of deer.

Here are the photos:

Cougar Mountain - Issaquah

Trailside on the Coal Creek Falls Trail

Bridge at Coal Creek Falls - Cougar Mountain - Issaquah

Bridge at Coal Creek Falls

Continue on for more photos:

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February 19, 2008

Daydreaming

Tucson - Romero Canyon Trail

Tucson - Romero Canyon Trail

I'm daydreaming of some place warm and sunny. This is where I'd rather be today.

March 6, 2008

Summer vacation

We got an email a couple of weeks ago from our niece. She gave birth to her son just before Thanksgiving and emailed us with an update. She mentioned that she had convinced G's mother (her grandmother) to go on a camping trip to Twin Lakes near Bridgeport in Eastern California. She wanted to know if wanted to join them. Of course!

G and I went camping with his parents up the Oregon coast to Washington while we were dating. She is always remarking how much she enjoyed the trip and would love to go camping again. Wanting and doing are definitely two different things especially after 35 years have passed. G's mother is in her mid 70's and we really couldn't see her camping. But our niece came up with a great solution. She and her husband wanted to go back to Twin Lakes. There are several full service fishing resorts at the lakes. The resort provides camping, motel and restaurant. Perfect. The young folks can camp and use old folks can stay in the motel.

She has arranged everything. We will be staying at Annett's Mono Village for three nights in July. G and I decided to make it a road trip and we are taking two weeks off. We'll drive down taking our time and rendez-vous with the group at Annett's. Then we'll go back to the Central Valley and spend a day or two with G's parents before driving back up.

We haven't driven down to Cali in over 15 years so this will be fun. We hope to take some time and see part of California that we haven't seen, do a little hiking and maybe investigate some towns.

July 27, 2008

Sauk Mountain

Sauk Mountain

Plans were made early in the week to go to Sauk Mountain. It is known for the spring wildflower blooms and views. Mid-late July is perfect time to visit to catch a gorgeous hill side filled with color. We did *not* expect clouds and heavy mist during a Seafair weekend but it is what we woke up to Sunday morning. Heck, we were going mainly for flowers anyway so what's a little mist?

We left Edmonds late - around 9-ish and arrived at the trailhead around 11am. The turn off is easy to miss coming from the west on Hwy 20. Watch for signs for Rockport State Park and a gravel road to the left. If you reach the park, you've gone too far. Turn around.

The road is a narrow single lane with few pullouts. I was glad I wasn't driving when we got to curves. The clouds were low down and we were driving in fog. We met one or two cars. It was drippy when we arrived a trail head. We pulled on our polypro and rain gear which we brought along.

The flowers started right away. Tiger lily, goat's beard and valerian were the dominant blooms with splashes of purple lupine and penstemon. The plant boys got right to identifying plants. First off was the bracted Lousewort - Pedicularis bracteosa. After a couple of switchbacks, we had groups of rocks to plant hunt around. Here we found heuchera, saxifrage and alpine blue bells. We were constantly surrounded by flowers everywhere we turned.

The switch backs are well done and make it easy to meander up the hill. The mist would open and close giving us glimpses down a couple of switchbacks but never opening up to see any father. We could hear the drone of traffic on Hwy 20 off into the grey.

As we got closer to the top, the clouds closed in and it started drizzling. The trail swings around the side of the mountain and we came across a couple of patches of snow. We never saw any of the small lakes below. Near the top, we decided to stop and have lunch. It was already after 1pm and everyone was hungry. There was no purpose to go any further since it was wet and you couldn't see squat.

The drizzle didn't let up. It was a wet cool 1-hour descent back to the parking lot . My pants were soaked below the knees from the wet foliage. We stripped off the rain gear and threw it in the back of the car. We headed off to Cascade... for milkshakes.

The flowers were wonderful. It was good that it wasn't a hot day because it would have been a very hot climb up the exposed switchbacks. And we have a reason to return since we never saw the view.

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August 3, 2008

Tragedy on Sauk Mountain

Just last week, we hiked Sauk Mountain. The day was overcast but the flowers were great. It was not remote trail. It is located just off of Hwy 20 near Rockport. Out in the country but not the remote wilderness. There is a state park along the hwy just as you turn off. You drive through the edge of state park on a narrow road which winds for 7 miles to a parking lot. The views are supposed to be great even from the parking lot.

Views, wildflowers and short hikes are always popular with hikers. But yesterday, there were also hunters. Bear hunting season opens August 1st in Washington. Sauk Mountain with its open hillsides filled with berries and flowers is also popular with bears. This brought hunters to the same mountain.

Yesterday, a young hunter mistook a hiker for a bear and fatally shot the hiker. The mid-50's woman was bent over getting something from her pack. She was wearing black. The hunter thought she was a bear and fired a shot. The hiker was hit, knocked from the steep trail and was killed.

News Report

Investigations are still going on. I am still hoping to hear more details. One local report says she was just 10-15 minutes on the trail. That would have but her on the open slope starting up the switch backs. The grass was tall but I am still amazed that someone who was from the area would not think about how popular the trail was and not take time to make certain it was not a hiker. Especially on a Saturday morning in August.

It does feel a little creepy to have been on the same trail less than a week ago. I have become much more aware of the hunting seasons. We may want to think about wearing bright clothes. I don't often wear black but G does. Hmmm... maybe it is time for a new hat for G.

I've also heard that she was an avid hiker and was doing what she loved. My heart and thoughts go out to her family and everyone involved.

August 5, 2008

Beverly Turnpike

Beverly Creek

Teanaway Valley is a hikers paradise. The river runs from Mt. Stuart along the eastern slope of the Cascades near Cle Elum. It also a very unique botanical area due to the serpentine soil in the area. The plants that grow in this area have adapted to the unique soil which have a high percentage of nickel. You will see both typical Cascade plants along with some plants from the Great Basin desert. We have been hiking in this region for over 20 years and try to do at least one hike in the region every year.

This year we decided to do Beverly Turnpike on Sunday (8/3/2008). We had been on the upper regions of this trail when we were training in 2004 but we couldn't remember exactly when we had last hiked the lower portion of this trail.

To reach the trail head, take I-90 east to the Hwy 97 Wenatchee exit just past Cle Elum. Continue on Hwy 97 until you cross the Teanaway River and turn on Teanaway River Road. This road continues for 13 miles. Just before you reach Beverly Creek, turn off and go about 1 mile in to the trailhead.

It took us about 2 hours to reach the trailhead from Seattle. There were about half dozen cars in the lot. Not bad for a warm August weekend. The trail start to climb. At 1/2 mile it passed the junction with Bean Creek Trail. The Beverly trail continues on climbing with the creek.

The open forest was dotted with summer flowers; Prince's Pine, etc. It must have been hot since most of the spring flowers such as lupine were dried to a crisp. After about 2 miles, the trail opens up onto the scree area. The area was covered with creamy buckwheat flowers. We stopped for lunch along the creek. It was so relaxing and peaceful to sit and listen to the water. We were alone and had seen no one else.

We decided to go a bit further but eventually called it a day. We didn't go that far - maybe two miles. But it refreshed us and cleared out minds.

Beverly Creek

Beverly Creek
Field filled with Buckwheat

Beverly Creek
Hmmm... Now what Indian Paintbrush is this? ( Castilleja elmeri )

Beverly Creek
Scarlet Gilia

Beverly Creek
Campanula rotundifolia

Beverly Creek
Natural arrangement

Beverly Creek
Butterflies on the trail


August 14, 2008

Yurt camping

We've been wanting to go camping - or I should say - we've wanted to try camping again. We got a small taste on our trip to California but we haven't tried sleeping in our tents on hard ground for a while. G and I both have back problems and really wonder if we could sleep even with a nice therma-rest mat.

But I remembered another option - Yurts. My French instructor went camping last January and stayed in one on the Washington Coast. It sounded so cool. Here is how they are described as on the Washington State Park site.

These circular, domed tents are made of extra-heavy, durable canvas and have spacious interiors with skylights, screened windows, hardwood floors and locking doors.

G was laid off this week so we can go any day of the week. I went out to the Washington State Park site today to see when would be the earliest we could get a reservation. Surprise! I found an opening on August 25th at Cape Disappointment. Cape Disappointment is at the mouth of the Columbia River in the Southwest corner of Washington. The area is called the Long Beach Peninsula and is a great place to go beach combing, kite flying and relaxing.

We haven't been to this area in over 25 years so it will be fun to revisit the Long Beach peninsula area. We're hoping the weather is good but even if it isn't - it will be fun to be at the ocean and sleep in a yurt. Don't you think these are so cool?

cd_yurti.jpg

August 15, 2008

14 year old to be charged with manslaughter

The Skagit County prosecutors plan on charging the 14 year old boy who shot and killed the hiker on Sauk Mountain with first-degree manslaughter. The prosecutors feel there is enough evidence to prove recklessness.

More details have come out in the past weeks. The boy was only 120 yards away. He shot across a popular trail. He did not take time to positively identity the target with binoculars - only the scope on the gun. The woman had been wearing a blue parka which she had taken off and was putting away in a pack. The woman she was hiking with was near her on the trail. And she was shot in the head.

The hiker's death may also result in changes to the state laws regarding young hunters. As this article in the Seattle Times says - "How old is 'old enough' to hunt in Washington?"

August 25, 2008

Camping at Cape Disappointment

Cape Disappointment

The forecast was for rain. Not exactly what we wanted for a couple of days at the beach but at least we had reserved a yurt. We would stay dry and warm.

It was about a 3 hour drive which took us down I-5 through Olympic and then we headed out to the coast. It took us through the heart of the Washington timber country. We passed loaded and empty truck but more distressing the miles and miles of clear cuts. I realize it is a crop, an industry and more important the life line to this area of the state but it is needless to say very depressing to drive through areas that look like a war zone.

We reached Raymond and turned off to drive along the top of Willapa Bay to the town of Tokeland. We wanted to see what the area was like because there is another park with yurts in the area. It was sunny and we saw some wonderful flocks of sandpipers and sighted our first pelicans. We returned and continued around the bay to Ilwaco and checked in about 2:30pm.

Tokeland Harbor

Tokeland Harbor

The yurt was exactly as we expected. We opened a window to cool and air and then headed to the beach for a little bit of exploring. We returned and had our dinner. It looked like it was clearing so we headed back to the beach and caught a wonderful sunset.

Cape Disappointment

Yurt at Cape Disappointment State Park

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August 26, 2008

Leadbetter State Park

Beachwalk


The sun woke us by peaking in the skylight. A sunny day. Whoo Hooo! We planned on hiking so it would be a perfect day. I've found out that Cape Disappointment is one of the foggiest places in the US with 2552 hours (equivalent to 106 days) of fog so I'm very happy to see the sun.

You can not cook in the yurt so we got up and went out to start up our camp stove and boil some water for coffee. Dew still dripped from the trees but it was calm and pleasant. We had a hot cup of coffee and bowl of cereal before heading off to the end of the peninsula.


View Larger Map

Cape Disappointment is at far southwest tip of Washington state. To the south is the mouth of the Columbia. To the west, the Pacific Ocean. Across the Columbia, is Fort Clatsop where Lewis and Clark wintered in 1805 after reaching the Pacific from their journey St Louis. It was named in 1788 by a British sea captain John Meares who took shelter in a cove from a sea storm. He was looking for the fabled great river but failed to find the Columbia River due to the treacherous bars at the mouth. A few years later in 1792, Captain Robert Gray would cross the bar and name the river Columbia after his ship Columbia Rediviva.

To the north is Long Beach Peninsula; a long finger of land and sand jutting up into Willlapa Bay. The beach goes for miles, in fact 28 miles. Washington State also allow driving on the beach so there are entrances along the way to drive out onto the beach. I didn't have nerve to do it this time because I've done in the past and gotten stuck in the sand.

Our destination was Leadbetter State Park at the northern tip of the peninsula. Driving up the peninsula, you drive through the typical beach tourist towns filled with junky gift stores and weird museums. All along there are obvious signs that fishing and shellfish is a major industry. Boats in yards, piles of crab pots and mound of white oyster shells fill yards. Oysterville is near the tip, a sleepy Victorian town still known for Willapa Bay Oyster harvests.

We reached the parking lot at the park and pulled on our boots. We had several false starts at finding the trail we wanted but finally did. The trail winded along the bay and then across the edge of the salt marsh before crossing through the low spruce and shore pine forest.

The trees ended and we crossed grass covered dunes to emerge on a long almost secluded beach. The upper beach area was roped off to protect the breeding grounds of the snowy plover. We decided to hike a half mile down the beach to catch a different trail back to the parking lot. Along the way, we stopped to watch a large flock of plovers dancing along the edge of the surf. They were so cool undulating in mass with the surf.

Once back at the car, we headed back towards Ilwaco. We stopped in Long Beach to check out the condos along the shore in case we wanted to return in the winter. Along the boardwalk, we watched the kites flying the beach and a car being pulled from the sand. Oh yeah, I don't want to drive on the beach.

We also stopped to check out the North Head lighthouse and the vista from the cliffs above the camp. Hunger was calling so we drove over to Astoria for a couple of beers and some good grub at Fort George Brewery.

The skies had turned gray and rain was immenant. We headed back to the yurt and relaxed for the evening. We listened to the rain on the canvas roof and it lulled us to sleep.

Here are the photos from our hike.

Along Willapa Bay

Along Willapa Bay at the start of the hike

Shore Trees
The forest of scrubby pines along the trail

Salal berries
Salal berries

Salt Marsh
Salt Marsh


Continue reading "Leadbetter State Park" »

September 7, 2008

Burroughs Mountain

Rainier from Third Burroughs

Mount Rainier from Third Burroughs Mountain

Our anniversary was this weekend. I missed celebrating it last year when I was in France. We have an unusual way of celebrating. We go for a hike.

Our favorite place to go is Burroughs Mountain out of Sunrise at Mt. Rainier. The trail starts at Sunrise which is at 6,400 ft and climbs up into the tundra-like terrain on the shoulders of Mt. Rainier. Burroughs Mountain is actually three small summits which give you an armchair vista down on the powerful glaciers of the northern side of Rainier. First Burroughs is about 1.5 miles from Sunrise at 7,200ft and Second Burroughs is a mile further at 7,400ft. The last mile seems so much steeper. We've also gone on to Third Burroughs which is even wilder and closer to the icy glaciers.

For our anniversary hike, we like to leave later in the afternoon, have dinner on Second Burroughs while watching the shadows lengthen across the crevasses and then hike back at sundown. It usually takes us about 1 1/2 hours so we try to leave by 7pm.

This weather is unusual this year. It snowed last weekend at Sunrise and it has been cold. It feels like mid-September. We checked the forecast and it was supposed to be warm. It was sunny at home so I packed up a dinner of sauteed shrimp, lemon orzo and caprese salad. We made a latte and packed it in a thermos along with the stroopwafles Amy brought back from Holland.

It was sunny but windy and cold when we reached the parking lot at Sunrise. Clouds swirled around the mountain and clouds hugged the summit. The trail is steep as it climbs through the meadow at Sunrise to Sourdough Ridge and turns west towards Burroughs Mountain.

The wind was whipping up from below at the junction to Berkeley Meadow and Fremont Lookout. Here the trail turns rocky as it climbs through the shale. This area is so botanically interesting. The paintbrush and lupine are dwarfed by the cold and hostile growing conditions. But you don't want to take your eyes off the trail too long because it is a steep drop down the side.

First Burroughs was engulfed in fog with just a sliver of view. Should we continue on? I wanted to. We might be lucky and get a break. The next mile is always so hard for me. The altitude takes its toll on my energy level. It was particularly hard today since I knew it might be miserable at the top.

But we had a break in the clouds and found a warm spot on the rocks below away from the wind. I dished up dinner and we toasted our years together with a glass of wine while we watched the lengthening shadows on the ice below.

The clouds were thickening and we decided to head back. It was a good idea since it was getting foggy again. It was cold and windy and a little damp while we scrambled back to the car. The latte was perfect and stroopwafles never tasted better.

Sunrise parking lot

Getting reading at Sunrise

Beginning of the trail across meadows at Sunrise


Start of the trail at Sunrise

Asters



One of the last flowers in bloom - the Asters

Heading to Frozen Lake



Heading towards Frozen Lake

Approaching First Burroughs



Almost to First Burroughs

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September 14, 2008

Olympic National Park - Obstruction Point

Hike to Deer Park

Mt Olympus from Obstruction Point - Olympic National Park

The weather has been gorgeous. I don't remember a better September. It almost makes up for the cold unpredictable summer. We realized we had not been over to Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National park in ages. Good weather - off during the week - no reason not to make a trip.

We decided on Wednesday to go to Obstruction Point. This is a dirt road that run below Grand Ridge from Hurricane Ridge back east. All along the drive are stunning vista back over the Olympic Mountains. And once at Obstruction Point, you can hike either along Lillian Ridge to Grand Lake or towards Deer Park. There was once plans to create a road all long the ridge from Hurricane Ridge to Deer Park but those were scraped.

We caught the 7:50 ferry and made it to Pt Angeles by about 10am. I forgot to check the park website and we were delayed by construction. I'm glad we decided to go last week. I've found out that the road is closed totally during the week while they finish paving.

We made it to Obstruction Point about 11am. The road is in good condition but one lane gravel. There are a couple of places where I wouldn't want to meet another car but fortunately we didn't.

We decided to hike towards Deer Park. It is over 7 miles to Deer Park which was too much for us so we decided just to go to Elk Mountain, the highest point on the trail, which is about 2 miles. Brilliant sun contrasted with the gray slate. The grass had started to turn golden and there were meadows of red leaved blueberries. I completely forgot how narrow the trail was. There were one or two spots that were a little narrower than I like. A little bit of vertigo but I made it.

We went as far as the second junction to Badger Lake and then climbed up to the top of Elk Mountain where Port Angeles, Sequim and the Strait was laid out at our feet. It was clear enough to see Victoria and even Mt. Baker in the far distance.

The shadows were lengthening and it was a quick trip back to the car. We headed back to Pt Angeles. We were starved so we stopped for pizza and a cold beer. Yum.

Here are some pictures.

Hike to Deer Park

Obstruction Point Trailhead

Hike to Deer Park
View of the Olympic Range from Obstruction Point

Hike to Deer Park
Beginning of trail to Deer Park

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Continue reading "Olympic National Park - Obstruction Point" »

September 15, 2008

Puget Sound Sunset

Here are some shots from the gorgeous Fall sunset we had on our way back from Olympic National Park. These were taken on the ferry ridge from Kingston to Edmonds.

Puget Sound Sunset


Mt Rainier in the distance from the Ferry Dock

Puget Sound Sunset
Moonrise

Puget Sound Sunset
Last rays of the day

Puget Sound Sunset
Evening Sail

Puget Sound Sunset
End of a great day

January 23, 2009

Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge

We really needed to get out and get some fresh air. We're had a temperature inversion here in the Seattle area. It has been foggy and nasty every day this week. We decided to head up to Rattlesnake Ledge which is just up towards Snoqualmie Pass.

It is about a 45 minute drive from our house. The trail is 4 miles roundtrip and elevation gain of just over 1100 feet. The trail is in great condition - smooth with few rocks or roots. It makes for an easy climb. Today it took us about 1 hour 10 minutes. I found an old post from 2004 when we were training - 45 minutes! Sigh...

At the ledge, you get over 180 degree view over the Snoqualmie Pass area, Middle fork of the Snoqualmie river, Mt. Si and the Ceder river watershed.

Here are a few more of the vistas today.


Rattlesnake Ledge
Our destination viewed from the parking lot

Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Lake - it is running a little high right now

Rattlesnake Ledge
Off we go

Rattlesnake Ledge
View Up the Middle fork of Snoqualmie River from the ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge
Mt. Si from Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge
The edge of the fog in the horizon

June 1, 2009

Little Si


View of Mt Si from top of Little Si

The weather has been gorgeous. We have had one of the best month of May in a long time. June is starting out well also. Yesterday it got to almost 80 degrees. Today in the mid-70's.

Our friend wanted to go for a hike. I have really gotten out of shape this winter. Yeah... too much time on the computer! I'm starting to walk and go back to an exercise. My knees and lower back are not in great shape. I'm hoping as I start to move it will get better. But I was a little worried about doing a hike today. So I choose Little Si.

Little Si is a small mountain right next to Mt. Si. Mt Si towers over the small town of North Bend in the Cascade foothills just about 40 minutes from downtown Seattle. Do you remember the series "Twin Peaks"? It was filmed in the town. Today it has become a suburb of Seattle with many developments. But you can still find wilderness next door.

The trail is 2.2 miles one way with an elevation gain of 1,200 and high point of 1,576. The Mountain to Sound Greenway Trust has been working on the trail and it is in great shape.

The hike was lovely. The alder and big leaf maple trees have recently leafed out and were fresh and light green. The sword ferns had just finished unfurling. The day was warm. On the way up we saw a couple of rock climbers on the rock wall below the summit. I took my time and it wasn't too hard. It took almost 2 hours which is really really slow. There were a few other hikers at the top. It was brilliant at the top. You could see across to Rattlesnake Ledge and up to Mailbox Peak. Of course, the bigger Mt. Si towered over us.

The way down was fast. We stopped and had a late lunch. An enjoyable day in the forest and sun .

Come take a Photo Hike with me:

Little Si Trail
Trailhead sign

Little Si Trail

Little Si Trail

Little Si Trail

Lovely chartreuse treetops

Little Si Trail

Sword Ferns

Little Si Trail

Little Si Trail

Little Si Trail
Oyster Mushrooms

Little Si Trail

Little Si Trail

Rockclimber

Little Si Trail

At the summit

View of North Bend from Little Si
North Bend with Rattlesnake Ledge and Mountain in the distance

View of Mt Si from top of Little Si

Haystack summit of Mt Si from top of Little Si

Related Posts and Links:

June 22, 2009

Lake 22

Twenty Two Creek
Twenty Two Creek

Last Monday, the weather had cooled off but it was still warm. No rain was forecast so we decided to take advantage of the weather to go hiking. We decided to go to Lake 22 which is north of Seattle along the Mountain Loop Highway.

Mt. Pilchuck is the dominating peak in the area. For many years, it was an easy to get to ski area with two chairs and a couple of rope tows. It eventually lost its permit and the area closed.

There are several lakes located in small cirques below the rocky slopes including Lake 22. It is an easy 1 hour drive from Seattle. The trail to the lake is 5.4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1350ft.The proximity to Seattle and the easy trail makes it very popular even during the week.



Lysichiton americanus
The Forest Service has recently build a new set of bathrooms at the trail head in addition doing work and laying gravel in the parking area. The trail starts starts climbing slowly above the Mt. Loop Highway to the crossing with Twenty Two Creek. It starts to climb more switching back to waterfall views of the creek. It was running fast - an indicator that we were going to run into snow. There were wonderful small woodland plants like Cornus canadensis lining the trail.

After climbing for a while, the trail opens and crosses a large talus slope bring lots of interesting plants in the open area. The trail makes a couple of large switch backs up the slope before reentering the forest near the creek. This become more boggy. It was filled with Skunk Cabbage - Lysichiton americanus. Can you guess that it is related to the stinky Arum in my garden? Yes! It is one of the few arums that are native to the US. There is also a species that grows in bogs in the east. The weather was cool so we did not notice any odor.

We were just about 1/4 mile from the lake when we ran into snow. The moist air had cooled considerably and we arrived at a foggy snowy lake. On clear days, the rocky slopes of Mt Pilchuck tower in the background. Maybe another day.


Along Lake 22 Trail
Well maintained trail to start

Along Lake 22 Trail
The steps eases the elevation gain along the switchbacks

Cornus canadensis
Cornus canadensis lines the forest trail

Diamond-like dew drops
Diamond-like dew drops

Linnaea borealis
Linnaea borealis - Twinflower

Asarum caudatum
Asarum caudatum - wild ginger

Misty hillside
Misty hillside

Aruncus dioicus
Aruncus dioicus - goatsbeard

Maidenhair fern
Delicate Maidenhair Fern

Lysichiton americanus
Lysichiton americanus - Western Skunk Cabbage

Trillium ovatum
Trillium ovatum

Foggy Lake 22
Foggy Lake 22

Foggy Lake 22
Foggy Lake 22

June 30, 2009

Iron Peak - Teanaway Country

Iron Peak

I heard that the trails in the Teanaway basin were open. The warm weather has opened the eastern slopes of the cascades earlier than last year even with our heavy snow fall. We decided to go to Iron Peak, one of our favorite trails in the area. We hiked this last Tuesday - June 23rd.

We have been hiking this region since the early '80s. I have a photo on my desk that was taken on our first trip to Iron Peak way back in early July 1986. I think we've been up this trail 4 or 5 times. The trail is not that hard since the wide switchbacks spread out the elevation gain. It was fine for me even being out of shape.

The drive takes about 2 1/2 - 3 hours from north Seattle. The last 13 miles are on dirt road. The road used to be pretty bad but it was regraded and improved about 5 years ago. But time is starting to takes its toll - man were the potholes killers this time - especially in the bright sunlight.

We got to the trail head around 11am. The parking area at the side of the road was empty. It was Tuesday and few people were to be seen. In fact we never saw another hiker on the trail the whole day.

The trail starts along side of El Dorado Creek. It was running fast and full but it was a lovely sound. The forest is Douglas fir and pine with very little undergrowth. But what makes this area special is the serpentine soil - a unique soil poor in minerals. It creates a botanical wonderland with species of wildflowers that have adapted to the soil. About half way up, we came across a large blow down. Fortunately, it was easy to pick our way through the broken trees.

On the upper slopes we saw lovely anemones, glacier lilies, shooting stars, and snow douglasia. Off in the distance we could see Rainier and close by the rocky sides of the peaks in the Esmeralda Basin.

We reached the saddle by 2pm. Yep - it is taking me about 1 hour to climb 1 mile. The rest of the way to the summit still had snow patches and we were content to explore the saddle. We sat on the rocks, ate our sandwich and watched the lovely view down the opposite side to Beverly basin where we hiked last year. The wind picked up and the high overcast cooled us off. We headed back down to the car and back to Seattle by 7pm.

Iron Peak trail

View towards Esmeralda Basin from Iron Peak Trail
View towards Esmeralda Basin

Iron Peak trail

Iron Peak trail

View from Iron Peak Saddle
View towards Beverly Basin from Saddle

View of Beverly Basin from Iron Peak Saddle
View of Beverly Basin from Iron Peak Saddle

Anemone drummondii
Anemone drummondii

Erythronium grandiflorum
Erythronium grandiflorum

Douglasia nivalis
Douglasia nivalis

Related posts:


July 10, 2009

Railroad history along Iron Goat Trail

Crossover on Iron Goat Trail

Like most of the west, the railroad has played a large part in the settling of Washington. The two main access points to the Puget Sound area are across Snoqualmie/Stampede Pass and Stevens Pass. Rail came earlier to Stampede Pass area. Northern Pacific Railway choose Tacoma as a terminus and the rail line opened over Stampede in 1888.

The Great Northern Railway went farther north and cross the Cascades at Stevens Pass to the terminus of Everett and Seattle in 1893. In February/March 1910, two trains were delayed by snow and avalanches for several days. The trains made it to Wellington where they waited for the tracks to be cleared. On March 1, 1910, thunder triggered an avalanche which swept the trains off their tracks and down 150 feet. The accident killed 96 people and is one of the worst rail disasters in the history of the US.

To protect the trains, a series of show sheds were built over the 9 miles of steep tracks at the pass between 1913-1915. A new tunnel was build in 1929 and the old steep grade and tunnels were made obsolete. Today, the tracks have been turned into the Iron Goat Trail. Do you remember the train with the Mountain Goat as its emblem. That was the Great Northern mascot from which the trail gets its name.

Today Highway 2 parallels the train tracks to the top of Stevens Pass. Just a few miles from the pass, is the Iron Goat Trail Interpretive Center. It includes several informative panels on the history of the railroad and a bright red caboose. Today the trail is the result of the hard work of the Volunteers for Outdoor Washington.

A new crossover trail between the Interpretive Center at Scenic and the upper grade opened two years ago. It is a short 1 mile trail which gains 700 ft over 25 switchbacks. The group did a great job on the trail.

Monday we decided to check out the trail. We decided to hike up the crossover trail to the main grade, then to Windy Point and continue east towards Wellington. It took about 1 1/2 hours to drive from our house to the Interpretive Center. The clouds had closed in and lowered by time we reached the trail head. It was wet and misty.

We took our time climbing - enjoying the woodland flowers which were in bloom. We reached the main grade and went to explore the tunnel. I was amazed at the size and darkness of the tunnel. It was also amazing to see that much concrete in the forest.

We headed for Windy Point. It took us along a narrow edge on the side of the tunnel and a short way through the forest. Unfortunately the clouds and mists prevented us seeing the vista. We could hear the traffic below on Highway 2. We continued along through the forest. For a while we hiked along side one of the snow shelters. Railroad spikes littered the forest floor. We came along one of the rail mileage posts. The forest was dark and rather spooky. I had heard that someone had seen a large bear on the trail the previous week and we could see bark that had been torn from trees - a sure sign of a bear in the neighborhood. It was getting colder so we decided to turn back. We stopped at the Windy Pass overview which was still clouded over and ate lunch.

We headed back down - fast and smooth. We arrived back at the parking lot in no time. We took a bit of time to read the history and explore before heading back to civilization.

There is much more to explore. We would like to return and explore from one of the other two trail heads. For more information - see the Iron Goat Trail website.

Iron Goat Trail Interpretive Site
Red Caboose at the Interpretive Center trailhead

Steps on the Crossover on Iron Goat Trail
Stairs along the Crossover Trail

Switchbacks along crossover
Steeper switchbacks near the top of the Crossover trail

Snow Shed along Iron Goat Trail
Snowshed wall near one of the tunnels

Old Rail Tunnel
Old Rail Tunnel

IronGoat-040
View from just inside the tunnel

Tunnel built in 1914
Built in 1914

Snowshed along old Tunnel
Trail continues along side of the tunnel snowshed

Iron Goat Trail
Hard to believe there is a tunnel behind that hillside

1713 railroad miles from St Paul Minn
1713 railroad miles from St. Paul Minn.

September 15, 2009

Naches Peak Loop Trail - Mt. Rainier

Naches Peak Trail - Mt. Rainier

Our anniversary is in early September. We try to go every year to Sunrise at Mt. Rainier for a late afternoon hike. We take along a picnic and have dinner while watching the sun set. The idea came from a co-worker who told me that she would drive up to Chinook Pass after work with her husband and have a picnic. I loved the idea. We are not always able to make it but we have a couple of times including last year. It was rainy on Labor Day weekend so we waited another week.

I did not want to do a very strenous hike so we decided to do the loop around Naches Peak. We like to start along the Pacific Crest Trail at Chinook Pass and loops around the peak. It is an easy hike just over 3 miles long.

It starts out with wide expansive views east before swinging west. Dewey Lakes appear in the distance and and the PCT trail turns south. The loop trail continues straight west coming to a beautiful little tarn lake with views of Mt. Rainier. The meadows are starting to yellow and the blueberry bushes are turning red. The ash is still green but accented with brilliant red berries.

The vistas continue as your travel west with views of Mt. Rainier and Cayuse Pass to the south before the trail swings north and enters the forest. Soon you arrive back at Highway 410 and Tipsoo Lakes. It is about 1/2 mile back up to the pass where we left our car. G was a sweetheart and hiked back to the car while I waited.

We decided to have our picnic along the lake. The weather was gorgeous and everyone had taken advantage of what could be the last good weekend in summer. It was crowded and the road was noisy from the Harleys out for a Sunday ride. But the food was good and the crowds soon disappeared. After our picnic, we drove up to Sunrise and watched the final rays of sun before heading back.

Naches Peak Trail - Mt. Rainier
Along the Naches Trail south of Chinook Pass

Naches Peak Trail - Mt. Rainier
Some friendly hikers we met along the trail

Naches Peak Trail - Mt. Rainier

Naches Peak Trail - Mt. Rainier
Seed pods of Anemone occidentalis

Naches Peak Trail - Mt. Rainier
Dewey Lakes

Naches Peak Trail - Mt. Rainier
Blue vista

Naches Peak Trail - Mt. Rainier
Fall color along the Naches Loop Trail

Anniversary Dinner at Tipsoo Lake
Dinner and Prosecco

Anniversay Photo

Related - Burroughs Mountain 2008

October 11, 2009

Blue Lake Trail - North Cascades

Blue Lake - North Cascades

One of the Fall joys in the Northwest is the opportunity to see the beautiful sub-alpine larch trees turn brilliant gold. If you are lucky, you can catch them on a crisp clear day where the gold blazes against the blue sky.

The weather cooperated this year and yesterday we drove up to Washington Pass to hike to Blue Lake. The big leaf maples were turning along the road as we drove along the Sauk River and as we climbed higher, the vine maples had turned bright yellow and red. But it was cold! There were icicles hanging down the rocky cliffs along the highway.

The trail head to Blue Lake is just before Washington Pass along the North Cascades Highway. It took us about 3 hours to drive from Seattle and we arrived shortly before noon. The parking lot was almost full and several other groups were getting read to head out. Busy day on the trail. Not surprising since it is one of the easiest trails where you can see sub-alpine larches. And it had just been mentioned in the New York Times travel article on "Finding Autumn Gold in Unexpected Places".

The trail starts along boardwalk and parallels Highway 20 for about 1/2 mile before it turns and starts to climb. The climb is gradual and after about 1 mile, the trees start to thin and you can start to see Cutthroat Peak. The larches appear about 1 1/2 miles and after a short 2 miles, you arrive at the lake.

The low sun turned the larches bright gold. They were beautiful contrasted against the dark granite and blue of the sky. Of course, since it was Saturday, every lake vista was taken up with a photographer trying to get the perfect picture. We spent about a half hour climbing along the shore with everyone else before heading back. We still passed many groups heading for the lake.

The drive back was blinding - mostly with the late afternoon sun as we were driving due west. We headed to La Conner for pizza dinner. The beer never tasted better.

Blue Lake - North Cascades
Start of the Trail

Blue Lake - North Cascades
The Larch appear

Blue Lake - North Cascades
Granite peaks along the way

Blue Lake - North Cascades

Blue Lake - North Cascades
Magical trail through the larch

Blue Lake - North Cascades

Blue Lake - North Cascades

Blue Lake - North Cascades


Blue Lake - North Cascades


Blue Lake - North Cascades

Blue Lake - North Cascades
Golden Needles

Blue Lake - North Cascades

Bluepano


November 2, 2009

Boulder River

Boulder River

A friend call last week and asked if we wanted to go hiking on Sunday. Sure! I had read several good reports about Boulder River,. a low elevation hike near Darrington. It starts at about 1,000ft and only gains 600 feet over four miles. The low elevation makes it a good hike for late or early in the season.

We checked the forecast and it looked pretty good. Sunday rolled around and I checked the weather radar in the morning. There were showers all along the highway from Arlington to Darrington but the forecast was still for clearing and no rain. We packed our rain gear just in case, dressed in warm clothing and headed out.

It was easy and beautiful drive through the farm fields and along the Stillagaumish River to the trail head. The drive was lined with big leaf maples and alders that were still wearing their yellow end-of-the-season leaves. We turned off at French Creek Road - FS 2010. The trees were still dripping from the morning showers and the potholes were filled to the rim with water. I dodged the pot holes the best way I could although we did hit several. After a short 3 1/2 miles, we arrived at the trail head.

The beautiful scent of cedar overwhelmed us as we opened the car doors. We had parked in a group of old cedar trees. We laced up the boots and headed down the trail. One side was lined with tall mossy fern-covered rocky cliff. On the other side, Boulder River roared in the distance. The bright sun rays cut the mist and made the forest look heavenly. The path was covered with huge big leaf maple leaves the size of two large hands. Water dripped from moss laden trees.

The sound of the river became louder. At about 1 1/4 miles, we came to a beautiful waterfall. We continued on walking - in and out of the fog and sun. After about 2 miles, we decided to stop at an sunny cliff and have our lunch.

The sun was getting lower. We had just turned our clocks back the previous night and we realized how quickly dark was coming. We returned to the car and headed back. The late afternoon sun turned the area golden and we had to make one more stop along the Stillaguamish River before heading back to civilization.

More details - WTA Boulder River

Boulder River

Boulder River


Boulder River

Boulder River

Boulder River

Boulder River

Stillaguamish River

January 3, 2010

Spencer Island Birdwatch Walk

Spencer Island

I've had a bit of cabin fever. The holidays are over. The weather has been dreary and stormy. I really have needed to get out of the house and go someplace different. Fortunately a friend called yesterday and asked if we wanted to go birdwatching on Spencer Island. It was a great idea. He got a spotting scope for Christmas and this would be a good place to practice using his new scope. It is also not far and it would be easy to get to. There was no rain in the forecast - just a typical cool gray day.

We parked near the Everett Waste Treatment plant. We could hear the gun shots as we put our boots on. We did not expect share the island with hunters but on hindsight - we should have expected it on a Sunday early in January. We headed down the road towards the bridge to the island. The island is located in the Snohomish River Estuary in Everett. Originally it was a farm but over the years the island dikes have been breached and it is becoming a marshland.

We crossed over the bridge and met several hunters who had finished for the morning. The northern part of the island is run by the Washington Fish and Game and is open to hunting. The southern portion of the island is owned by Snohomish County and hunting is prohibited. We turned South.

We stopped along the way to watch the birds. The tide was high when we arrived and we did not see much at first. We meandered along the dike and across the island towards the river. We had gorgeous views across the marsh to the surrounding mountains. Mt. Baker glowed in the sun. Misty fog hung along the river shore.

We slowed down and let the morning progress. The tide retreated and more and more ducks arrived to swim the muddy ponds among the cattails. We started to see more raptor birds in the trees - a pair of red tailed hawks surveyed the fields, a peregrine falcon swooped along the river and a harrier hawk flew low through the reeds.

We completed the loop and started back to the car. We heard the cry of a kingfisher and saw a beautiful young bird perched on the snag swooping down for fish in the pools. We spent about 3 lovely hours in the cool winter day - enjoyed the beauty of the wildlife.

Spencer Island
Bridge to the island

Spencer Island
Flooded marshland

Spencer Island

Spencer Island
Misty fog along the river

Spencer Island
Mt Baker

Spencer Island

Spencer Island
Path Across the Island

Spencer Island
Falcon in the trees

Spencer Island
Ducks in the marsh

January 10, 2010

Lord Hill Regional Park

Lord Hill County Park

The sun was supposed to grace our presence today so we planned a hike. I had heard from friends and NW Hikers forum about Lord Hill Regional Park near Snohomish. It sounded like a great place for a walk in the woods so we bundled up and headed out.

We decided to explore the backroads instead of taking the faster highway. We took Hwy 524 across from Lynnwood. It was interesting and went from new housing tracks to double-wide trailers set back in the woods. It ended up at Malby and the cafe was busy as to be expected on a Sunday Morning. We headed up Hwy 522 to Monroe and took the old Monroe-Snohomish Highway through the farms along the edge of the Snohomish farming valley.

The road to the park and up Lord Hill was lined with large houses designed as a horse farm. Many had magnificent views back across Monroe to the Cascade Mountains. The parking lot was rather full but we were able to find a parking place.

The park was once the farm of Michell Lord. He purchased 80 acres in 1879 and later expanded on it. He was mostly a dairy farmer but he also raised other animals and had 100 acres in cultivation. Later the area was logged in the 1930s and again in the 1980s. The park is 1,300 acres above the Snohomish River and is criss-crossed by several trails.

We decided to head to one of the view points and make a loop. We stayed on the main trail and then turned off on one of the pipeline cutoffs to point 630. Here we were treated to a view across the farms along the river with the Olympics peaking up above the horizon. We returned a short ways and then headed over to the Pipeline trail to Temple Lake. We returned by lugging up Pipeline trail to Beaver Pond and the parking lot. It took us about 2 hours and we did maybe 3-4 miles. Not much but a great start to the New Year.

Lord Hill County Park

Lord Hill County Park

Lord Hill County Park

Lord Hill County Park

Lord Hill County Park

Lord Hill County Park

Lord Hill County Park

Lord Hill County Park

February 21, 2010

Tiger Mountain Poo Poo Point via Chirico Trail

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountain
Overlooking Bellevue and Lake Sammamish

What glorious weather we are having for February! Brilliant sunshine and temperatures almost to 60 degrees. Perfect weather for a winter hike.

Tiger Mountain is just east of Issaquah. It encompasses more than 70 miles of trails ranging in a variety of steepness. The mountain is managed by Department of Natural Resources and the trails are maintained by the Issaquah Alps Trails Club. It is a perfect location to hike in the winter since the many of the high points are less than 3000 feet. You can run into snow and ice during cold stretches but with this year's El Nino weather, the area has been snow free most of the year.

The trails are a variety of difficulty. We used the heavily used Tiger Mountain 3 trail and Section Line trail from the High Point trailhead when we trained for Rainier and Whitney. But we have never explored the other regions. Poo Poo Point has been on my list and we decided to try it.

The name is pretty unusual. It turns out to have been named for the sound the train whistles made passing by. Poooo Pooooo... Today the point is used by hang gliders. It has has magnificent views to the South and West. Ranging from Mount Rainier and Maple Valley towards the south, Bellevue and the Olympics to the west and Whitehorse and Mt. Baker.

There are two typical ways to reach Poo Poo Pt. The first trail starts at the Issaquah High School and is appropriately called the 'High School Trail'. This trail is over 4 miles one way and an elevation gain of 2200 feet. The second trail, Chirico trail, is more direct. It is used by the hang gliders to haul their gear to the take off spots on Poo Poo Point. It is great condition with many flat rock steps but it does seriously climb 1500 feet in just over 1.5 miles. It is a great place for a quick work out.

It takes about 45 minutes to drive to the trail head from North Seattle. Take the Front Street Exit (#17) off I-90 and pass through the charming old downtown of Issaquah. Front Street becomes the Issaquah-Hobart Road. The trail head is at the landing area on the left side of the road near SE 113th Street. There is a small parking lot and we lucked out and found a parking spot. There is limited parking along the road with many No parking or stopping signs.

The trailhead starts across the landing field through cedar forest. It starts climbing immediately. It alternates between evergreen forests and stark gray forests of alder. The Indian Plum (Oemleria cerasiformis) was just starting to bloom and I spotted brilliant red blossoms of an early flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum). The trail is in excellent condition although it is narrow. There is a small viewpoint after about 1 mile and the trail then continues to switchback. Just before the top, there is a web of different trails to the south launch. They all go to the top. We choose to follow the switch backs instead of plowing straight up to the top.

What a beautiful view. Mt Rainier in the distance and Maple Valley and the Cedar Valley below. The warm sunshine felt great on a mid-February Friday. We rested a bit and enjoyed the view and sun before heading up to the North launch just a short distance further.

It was a little weird to see astroturf but it looks like it does protect the launch area. From the North Launch area, we had a over 180 degree vista starting south to Mt Rainier. The Olympics, downtown Bellevue and Lake Sammamish were at our feet. Over our shoulder to the North was Mt. Baker. It was a little hazy but warm. Wonderful hike. Wonderful day.

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
Trailhead

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
Hang glider memorial

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
Trail climbs steeply but is in great condition

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
Switchbacks

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
Winter Alder grove

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
South launching site - over looking Maple Valley

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
North launch site

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
Bellevue via telephoto from Poo Poo Point

Poo Poo - Tiger Mountin
Mt Baker in the distance


March 2, 2010

Cedar Butte Trail

Cedar Butte

I don't know why it has taken so long for us to do this hike. It is located just across from Rattlesnake which is one of our favorite hikes in the winter. Cedar Butte is a small knob just east of Rattlesnake Lake near North Bend. It is lower than Rattlesnake Ledge - 1800 ft but the trail is about the same workout. It is 2 miles to the top and a 900 ft elevation gain.

The drive from home takes just about 1 hour. We usually try to get out before 10 or 11 at latest. The southbound Express Lanes are usually open until 11 so we can quickly get through downtown Seattle and head east. The forecast was for partial sun and a high of 60. 60 degree! on the first of March! We took the exit just after North Bend (home of the Snoqualmie Casino and a large Outlet mall). The parking lot was pretty empty. Probably not that unusual for a winter Monday.

The trail starts at the Iron Horse State Park. The first mile is along the John Wayne Trail - a rails-to-trail from the old Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad. It starts at Cedar Falls and goes over Snoqualmie Pass to Easton and beyond. We have cross country skied on part of the trail south of Cle Elum. A great resource for many different sports.

Follow the John Wayne Trail for about a mile until it crosses a bridge over Boxley Creek. Look to the south for a trailhead for Cedar Butte. The trail starts up and soon comes to a junction. Here you have a choice; go to the right and you will reach the summit in about 1 mile with a good grade or go to the left and save a 1/2 mile distance but be prepared for a steeper climb.

I prefer a gentler trail on the downhill so we decided to go the shorter steeper trail to the left. It continued through the cut forest for a short distance and the it entered a very magical forest. It seemed as if everything had been airbrushed in brilliant green. It was the spring growth of moss. There was long tendrils of moss on some of the branches of the maples. The trunks of the taller evergreens were sprayed with a fine coat of moss. It gave it a surreal feeling of being in a room that had just been spray painted.

Soon we reached the Saddle Junction where the trail to the right rejoins and we headed up the final 1/4 mile or so to the summit. The switchbacks took us to the top while views of Rattlesnake and the I-90 corridor peaked between the trees. The summit was a little bit of a disappointment. The trees have grown up blocking much of the view. You can still see up the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie Valley bounded by Tenerife Mountain on the West and Mailbox Peak on the East. It took us just a bit over 1 hour to make the two miles. Not too bad.

We headed back down quickly passing the Saddle Junction and heading on the other longer trail. We entered into the magical moss forest again. The wind was blowing and creaking the trees above our heads. All was quiet besides the rustling of needles from the wind. We passed the Boxley Blowout where in 1918 the City of Seattle's Cedar Dam burst and blew out the area. There was not much to see today so we continued on and we were soon back to the John Wayne Trail.

We made it back to the car shortly. The weather had continued to be warm but cloudy. We could see some signs of Spring in the forest; the brilliant green of the moss, the young leaves of fox glove, a few bright pink blossoms of thimbleberry, blossoms of Indian Plum - but there was still a lot asleep. No sign of trilium, no fiddleheads of bracken ferns, no maple racemes. It may feel like Spring in the city but it is still mostly sleeping in the forest.

Here are some photos of the hike.


Cedar Butte
Trailhead at Iron Goat State Park

Cedar Butte
The start of the John Wayne Trail

Cedar Butte
Start of the trail

Cedar Butte
Eerie Mossy Forest

Cedar Butte
Moss Hair

Cedar Butte
Mushrooms on moss

Cedar Butte
Saddle Junction

Cedar Butte
Rattlesnake Lake and a portion of Rattlesnake Mountain in the distance

Cedar Butte
Trail to top after Saddle Junction

Cedar Butte

View from the top


April 20, 2010

Umtanum Creek Falls

Umtanum Road - not much in bloom

We decided to drive over to Ellensburg in Central Washington and see what was in bloom. Ellensburg is about 125 miles east of Seattle over Snoqualmie Pass. It is farm oriented town with many cattle and hay farms. Central Washington University is also located in the town. We invited two of our friends. One is a birder and he was interested in checking out the bluebirds and whatever else he might find.

It took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to Central Washington. We were early for lunch so we exited at Thorp to go over to Hayward Road. The bluebirds were out but not many flowers in bloom beyond violas and desert parsley. We saw a sign at the beginning of the road that said "No Wind Farm Traffic". At the top of the ridge, we found the road widened and a steady stream of large dump trucks heading onto the top of the ride. Construction had started on a new wind farm. We decided we didn't want to mess around with the large dump trucks along a dirt road so we turned around. We will need to find a new favorite spot for wildflowers in the area. We headed on into Ellensburg and stopped for an early lunch at Campus U-Tote-Ums drive in.

The hike was off Umtanum Road. This road starts just before I-90 on Canyon Road south of Ellensburg. It swings under I-90 and through hay farms before turning west. The road climbs along the foothillls of the Cascades through the shrubby steppe - a bushy area dotted with tall pines. We started spotting blue birds. The Yakima Audubon Society have put up nesting boxes along the fences and we saw lots of activity. We saw a mixture of both Mountain and Western Bluebirds. Both are beautiful but we particularly love the male Mountain Bluebirds which are brilliant turquoise. We did a little bit of exploring along the roadsides to see what we might see in wildflowers. Not much. Violas, desert parsley, a few white onions, a few bluebells.We did find lots of wax and golden current in bloom.

The road turns to dirt and curves into a canyon. The trail head was around one corner. There was just one other car in the lot. We took our time along the trail stopping with the spotting scope to see what birds we could see. We also found evidence of very active beavers at the start of trail. Many young aspens had been cut down and several dams along the creek. But the hillside was still yellow gray and the trees were leaf less. It will probably be two more weeks before the hillsides color.

The trail was very easy - really a walk. It was a good place to explore. The trail followed the stream and was a little over a mile. We came to a rocky outcrop and the stream dropped over into a curved basalt bowl. It was a little unnerving for me. I slowly crept to the edge and looked down. The falls were spraying over and dropping down into the dark pool. There were two scramble trails that went around the bowl and down a very slippery slope to the pool at the bottom. I had no interest in going down and decided to stay at the top while G and our friends scrambled down.

We returned to the car. It was now overcast but still warm. We headed back about 4pm making a short stop at the Taste of Italy Espresso stand before heading over the pass.

Mountain Bluebird - Umtanum Road
Mountain Bluebird

Western Bluebird - Umtanum Road
Western Bluebird

Viola trinervata - Umtanum Road
Viola trinervata

Ribes cereum - Wax Currant
Wax Currant

Umtanum Falls Trailhead

Busy Beavers - Umtanum Falls Trail
Evidence of busy beavers

Beaver Dam - Umtanum Falls Trail
Beaver Dam

Umtanum Falls Trail
Along the trail

Umtanum Falls Trail
Muddy top just before the falls

Umtanum Falls
Top of the Falls

Umtanum Falls
Umtanum Creek Falls

Umtanum Falls
Marta at top of the Falls

Related posts:

April 27, 2010

Mt. St Helens

Mt St Helens

This is the 30th year anniversary of the eruption of Mt St Helens. Here is a picture from 2003. I hope to make a trip to the same area this year to see how it has changed.

June 19, 2010

Taneum

Vista from Tamarack Ridge Road - Taneum

Back around 2004, G and I started making an annual pilgrimage to the Taneum area to view the camas and other wildflower fields. Usually we would go mid-May and if it weather wasn't too hot we would find some stunning fields of blue. We had a sekret way in. Two years ago, we found our sekret way blocked by moguls of dirt and downed trees. Our sekret way was a couple of old jeep roads that Fish and Game decided to totally block and keep the ATVs out. Good thing but it was a pain to get through. We gave up on the trail.

But we still wanted to find the fields again. On our sekrit way, we would pass a dirt road so we knew there was one way to get somewhat close. A friend got a Green Dot Map for the L.T. Murray Wildlife area which we borrowed. Looking at it and a topographical map of the area, we discovered that we could probably get in if we could get up to the Tamarack Spring campground which is in between Taneum and Manashtash.

We decided to go exploring with our friend on Monday (6/14). The weather was gorgeous but extremely windy. It has been cooler than normal and most of the flowers that we normally see in May were just starting to bloom.

We started by going up the Tamarack Ridge Road. If lucky, we might be able to make it across to Tamarack Springs. We entered through the gates off of Joe Watt Road and took the middle fork which is Tamarack Ridge Road. The road was rough but it did not have a lot of deep ruts so our friend's Subaru wagon was able to make it. G did get out in a couple of places and throw a few rocks off the road. This is the prime shrub steppe eco-system of the Eastern side of the Cascades that we love. The road climbed up through the Ponderosa pine forest to a ridge with a stunning vista across Thorp to the Stewart Range and to Ellensburg to the east. Here we found wonderful small rock gardens in the lithosol -- a thin, rocky soil - full of buckwheat, penstemon, balsamroot, bitteroot and desert parsley.

Tamarack Ridge Road - Taneum

Lupine along Tamarack Ridge Road - Taneum

Tamarack Ridge Road - Taneum

Wildflower garden - Taneum

Bitteroot - Tamarack Ridge Road - Taneum

Wildflower gardens on Tamarack Ridge Road - Taneum


We came to a pretty big puddle in the road and we decided not to risk going further on the rocky road so we turned back. We retraced our route and then drove up Taneum Road 33 to just beyond Icewater Campgound where we turned south on 3330 toward Buck Meadows. The larch and aspen trees were leafing out. They were both a gorgeous shade of chartreuse. It will be beautiful in the fall although it will also be a prime hunting region. The road is in excellent condition and we met no one other than a road grader who was re-graveling and leveling out the road for the summer season.

We turned off at Road 3120 and headed to Tamarack Spring. The campground was closed. We were thinking about heading in on Hutchins Road but it looked a little rough so we parked. We discovered a really interesting grave just past Tamarack Spring. It is fenced in and maintained by a local snowmobile club. It is covered by stones with an old cross made by branches. A chiseled gravestone says "White Woman's Grave". I was able to find an article on it from the Ellensburg newspaper from 1973. A local pioneer woman and her husband was traveling through the area and became lost. They were directed to go through this area since it was closer to Kittitas than Yakima. They were hurrying and the woman's horse tumbled jumping over a log and she was hurt falling from the horse. She was pregnant at the time. She had a miscarriage and died. Her husband buried her at the site. He had wanted to return and bring her down to a graveyard, but was convinced that since she was a pioneer woman, she should remained buried in a pioneer grave. Another man returned later with the gravestone to mark that it was a white woman's grave so it would not be vandalized. Eventually a fence was built over it and rocks cairned over it to protect it from livestock. Such a sad but facilitating story.

We walked for about two miles and we started seeing the fields of camas. It was in prime bloom along with delphinium, big head clover. In a couple of weeks, the penstemon should be blooming.

It was getting late and we still had the drive back to Seattle so we decided to call it a day. We did not find the fields we used to visit but we were really close. We know we can find them again next year. Monday was a great day also to explore. The campgrounds and roads were empty. We had the wilderness and the peaceful fields to ourselves.

Aspens at Gooseberry Flat - Taneum

White Woman's Grave - Tamarack Springs - Taneum

White Woman's Grave - Tamarack Springs - Taneum

Camas field Taneum





For more photos - check out the slide show on Flickr


July 4, 2010

Reecer Creek - Red, White and Blue

Reecer Creek Panorama

The forecast for the 4th of July was gray and damp as expected. The Cascades were providing a rain shadow for Eastern Washington so we packed up the car and headed east again for some sun and flowers.

We headed for Ellensburg. This time we drove up Reecer Creek which is north of I-90 from the Taneum area that we explored a couple of weeks ago. The traffic was light and it did not take the little hybrid long to get to Ellensburg. Okay... it is a little slow to get over the pass in our little hybrid but we got to Reecer Creek Road in about 2 hours.

We could tell the wind was strong. The grass and trees were waving as we drove back west towards Table Mountain. Reecer Creek Road leads to the top of Table Mountain and Lion Rock. The road passes through timothy hay farms in the Kittitas Valley before becoming one lane and starting to climb.

The vistas opened up as we climbed. We could see the new windmill farm being constructed along Hayward Road between Highway 97 and Highway 10. The sky was blue but the wind was cold. The flowers increased as we climbed. We noticed that scarlet gila was in bloom with its brilliant red firecracker blooms. The common name is skyrocket. We realized the fields were in bloom for the 4th of July celebration - red scarlet gilia, blue delphinium and white yarrow.

We started going back in time as we climbed higher. Soon we saw the seed pods of the camas that we had seen in bloom three weeks ago. A little farther we found fields of big head clover in bloom. Next the fields were filled with shooting stars and avalanche lilies. And finally a few patches of snow. We pulled to the side and had lunch over looking the valley before turning back.

We meandered back down - stopping when we saw something new - looking for the perfect red, white and bloom wildflower shot that we never found. But we enjoyed walking the fields and a day in the flowers.

Reecer Creek Vista

Reecer Creek Road

Reecer Creek Road Vista

Wildflower field - Reecer Creek Road

Field of Big head clover

Bumblebee on Big head clover

Boisduval's blue butterfly

Red White and Blue Wildflowers

Ipomopsis aggregata - Scarlet Gilia

Achillea millefolium - Yarrow

Delphinium nuttallianum

Indian Paintbrush

Platanthera dilatata

Lupine

July 6, 2010

Red Top Fire Lookout

Red Top Lookout

We have passed a sign to Red Top Lookout a million of times on our way to Teanaway hike but we never had a chance to drive up to the top. I have read a couple of hiking reports recently from people who have volunteered at the lookout or hiked one of the back trails to the lookout. One person also mentioned the details on where to find lovely mountain lady slipper orchids on the drive up. We had seen the orchid several years ago on the Ingalls Creek Trail but had not been able to find it again. We couldn't bypass an opportunity to find it again.

I did a little research on the road to make certain that our little Honda Civic could make it on the road and found out that there are three forest service campgrounds at the road end before the trail to the lookout. The forecast was for good weather on the eastern slopes of the Cascades so we decided to check go flower hunting and camping the last weekend in June.

G has the packing well organized and we were on the road before 9am. It took just about 2 hours before we arrived at the turnoff. The easiest way from Seattle is to go over Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 and take Highway 97 at Cle Elum heading towards Leavenworth. Just past Mineral Springs resort, go west on the first FS road past the bridge. This is FS 9738. Drive just over 2 miles until you come to a Y and take a left on FS 9702. It will be about 4.5 miles from the Y to the parking for Red Top Lookout.

We easily found the orchids and spent a good half hour just taking pictures of the beauties before heading on. We wanted to give enough time for the campers to vacate and we could get a camp.

Cypripedium montanum
Cypripedium montanum

At road end is a large area for parking. The three spots were spread out. I noticed one group was just finishing loading their car so we pulled in to wait a brief moment before moving into their site. It was a perfect - a little shady so it was cool in the light wind but overall very satisfactory.

We set up camp and ate our lunch before heading up to the lookout. A steady stream of hikers and rock hunters went by our camp. There is an area below the look out that is used by rockhounds for hunting agates. It was interesting to see the groups of people going by with shovels and buckets for digging.

The lookout is about 3/4 mile from the parking area but about 350 feet up. It starts in the trees before quickly climbing up a red rocky talus slope. Oh my - the view! At our feet, lay the Teanaway valley and Cle Elum in the distance. We could pick out a couple of our favorite hikes. To the north was the majestic Mount Stewart and the craggy line of the Enchantments and Wenatchee Mountains. The day was brilliant blue but with large white clouds swirling around the snow capped mountains.

There was no one at the lookout. It is typically staffed by volunteers but there was no one there Sunday evening. We crawled along the rocks looking for different vistas and interesting rock garden plants. We walked for a while down the back trail before returning to the trail head. We then took the path to the agate beds which are about 1 mile. More lovely vistas and fields of early summer flowers.

We returned to camp. Most of the people had left for the day. There was one or two people who came up late in the afternoon and only one other camper. By 7pm, it was just us and the other campers at the top of the mountain.

We walked over to an open rocky area near the camp and investigated the area while the sun was going down. We found little frogs, wonderful wildflowers and a beautiful peacefulness. We called it a day.

The next day was cloudless. We broke camp and headed down. We decided to return over Stevens Pass and make it a loop. We stopped for a while and did a mile or so on Ingalls Creek Trail before heading in to Leavenworth for lunch and the drive back.

I think I'm going to like camping.

Red Top Lookout
Looking up at the Lookout from the trail

Red Top Lookout
Wenatchee Mountain Vista

Red Top Lookout
Outhouse with a view!

Red Top Lookout

Red Top Lookout
Love the clouds

Red Top Panorama
Panorama of Mt Stewart and the Enchantment Range


August 3, 2010

Iron Peak - Face to Face with Mr. Billy

At the Saddle

Iron Peak is one of our favorite hikes. We did it last year in late June. Our friend wanted to go hiking in the Teanaway and suggested that we do Iron Peak. It would be a good time especially with the late snow melt this year - we might even see a few wildflowers still on the saddle.

The day was foggy here in Seattle. We have had a strange on-shore flow this month bringing us foggy morning. It usually burns off by noon or early afternoon. It has been keeping the temperatures moderate. We did not get out of the overcast until we went over Snoqualmie Pass.

It was the normal drive of about 2 1/2 hours. The dirt road had been graded up to the turnoff for Beverly and quite a few potholes to slow us down for the last few miles. There were a couple of other cars at the trail head.

The trail was dry and dusty. I took my time since I'm out of shape. It was quite hazy due to fires around Wenatchee and in central BC. I was surprised that we could not see Mt. Stuart clearly. It wasn't until the last mile or so that we saw some lupine and other wildflowers.

I mentioned last year that we had taken a picture at the saddle back in the mid-80's. We took a copy along and looked around for the spot we had taken the picture. We couldn't find it so we just found an interesting spot and tried to recreate it. It was fun.

Iron Peak 1985 Iron Peak 2010

We started back and our friend asked if we ever saw any goats. Nope. We had never seen any goat any of the times we had hiked this trail or others in the Teanaway or Esmeralda area. I had heard there were some but never saw one.

We hadn't gone more than maybe a dozen steps when G who was in the front said "There's a goat on the trail"! I thought for certain he was joking until I looked over his shoulder and sure enough - there was a billy goat coming up the trail. He was real interested in us and kept coming closer... and closer... We didn't know the proper etiquette for meeting a goat. We finally start around him and he passed on by.

It was gusty at the saddle and one our hats went flying. The guys started down the other side to get the hat while I stayed up at the saddle. I turned around and there was Mr. Billy Goat again. He kept coming closer and closer but he just stayed at the saddle. Finally he found a spot where a horse had peed and decided it would make a good salt lick. We watched him snorting around in the dirt until we finally decided to head down and leave the mountain to him.

It was a quick dusty trip down the mountain and back to Seattle. But what an experience to come face to face with a Mountain Goat.

View towards Esmeralda basin from Iron Peak trail
Hazy View along the trail

View from Saddle below Iron Peak
View from the Saddle

Coming up the trail
Coming up the trail

This is my trail
This is my trail

I'm just going to stand here and block your path
I'm just going to stand here and block your path

Okay, I'll let you go by
Okay, I'll let you go by

Hey - what are they doing?
Hey - what are they doing?

I told you this is my trail
I told you this is my trail

Gotta love the view
Gotta love the view

Related posts:


September 14, 2010

Burroughs Mountain Anniversary Hike

Burroughs Mountain

I have been looking forward to our Anniversary hike at Mount Rainier. The weather has been so unpredictable this year. The weather was rainy on our Anniversary. Of course, the sun came out on the days when G had to work. Finally the forecast was for three days of sun this week. G had a company picnic on Tuesday which was predicted to be the best weather day. We tentatively planned to go on Wednesday. But Monday morning, I checked the webcams for the mountain and the passes - perfectly clear. It also crossed my mind that if the forecast is wrong - which it typically is - it would probably rain late Wednesday. So I proposed to G that we go today. G was luke warm on the idea. But I gave him a couple of reasons and he finally agreed. We could get ready and be up on the mountain by early afternoon.

I whipped up our dinner; salad with left over grilled tuna and tomatoes and cukes from the garden with some more tomatoes and mozzarella and cantaloupe for dessert. We had to stop and pick up a bottle of wine and we were on our way. It took about 3 hours to make it up to Sunrise. They were repaving and painting the road so we were stopped behind the painting machine for about 30 minutes. We finally got on the trail around 2:30.

The sun was peaking in and out of the clouds. They had started to gather around the mountain. It was beautiful as the light raced across the meadows. The climb was tough at first but I got into a rhythm and was able to march right up and arrived at the top just before 4:00pm

We headed for our normal spot on the rocks overlooking Third Burroughs. We watched the clouds circle around while we had our wine and dinner. The chipmunks and squirrels entertained us.

Suddenly we noticed a low cloud creeping across the meadow below. It was time to go. It wasn't going to get any better. We were soon engulfed in the cloud and hiked back through the mist. We met up with a couple on vacation from Hershey Pennsylvania and talked about hiking for the last mile.

We dumped our boots into the car and headed down. We stopped for one last look at the mountain and wished ourselves many more happy years.

Burroughs Mountain
Sunrise meadow and lodge

Burroughs Mountain
Sunlit corn lily

Burroughs Mountain
Trail Junction at Frozen Lake

Burroughs Mountain
Cloud dappled light across the meadows below Fremont Lookout

Burroughs MountainBurroughs Mountain
Burroughs MountainBurroughs Mountain
Burroughs Mountain
Clouds creeping in

Burroughs Mountain
Time to go

Burroughs Mountain
Packing it up

Burroughs Mountain
One last photo op

Burroughs Mountain
Heading off

Burroughs Mountain
Good Bye for another season

Related Posts:

October 6, 2010

Lake Valhalla

Lake Valhalla Hike

Have you experienced a perfect Fall day? Sky brilliant blue, breeze soft and warm, colors aglow in a golden flame?

Finding a perfect day to hike is always difficult in the Fall in the Pacific Northwest. The weather changes from day to day and it is hard to predict. But more often than not, you will find good weather round the third week in September and the first week in October. The first week in October can be glorious. It is also between a couple of major hunting seasons so it can also be less crowded.

The forecast was for good weather on Wednesday so we planned to head for the hills. The only challenge was to figure out where to go. Last year we went hunting golden larches in the North Cascade National Park. It was larch season so one possibility was to go up to the Teanaway. I reviewed the recent trip reports on NW Hiker and WTA. The color has been great along the crest and one report caught my eye - Lake Valhalla off of Stevens Pass. It would be an easy drive and not too difficult from the Smithbrook trailhead.

The morning was foggy and gray but it was sunny at the Pass when we checked the traffic webcams at Snoqualmie Pass. The fog was thick along the Snohomish River at Monroe and it wasn't until almost Gold Bar that the sun appeared. The maples were turning yellow and there were broad swatches of red on the hills above Stevens Pass.

It took us about 2 hours to drive to the trailhead. The Smithbrook road is in great condition and there were no other cars in the parking lot. We put on our boots and headed up. The trail climbs along the road and stream. The devils club was brilliant yellow and the forest floor dotted with mushrooms of various colors. The trail switch backs through the forest for about 1 1/4 miles until it joins the Pacific Crest Trail at Union Gap. Turning south, it follows along the crest mostly level opening up to red hillsides of huckleberries and mountain ash and vistas to the east. It reaches an overlook down to the lake in about 1 1/2 miles. There below sparkling in the sun was Lake Valhalla.

We continued on and down to the meadows at the foot of Mt McCausland and on to the warm sandy shore overlooking Lichtenberg Mountain. The hillsides were aflame in fall color - Valhalla was burning in color.

We enjoyed our lunch and fed the chipmunks. We could tell the shadows were already lengthening so we headed back to the car. Overall, one of the best hikes this year.

Lake Valhalla Hike Lake Valhalla Hike
Lake Valhalla Hike Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

Lake Valhalla Hike

October 11, 2010

Longs Pass

Mt Stuart from Longs Pass
Mt. Stuart from Longs Pass


The forecast was for another set of sunny days. Perfect opportunity for another fall hike. Our hiking buddies are off on Monday so we gave them a call and they wanted to come. Hmm... where to go. The Seattle Times highlighted a hike in the Teanaway area that we had not done yet - Longs Pass. It was a bit of a drive but with the forecast of sun - it would be perfect.

We picked up our friends and were on the way by 8:30am. The normal Monday morning rush hour traffic getting out of the city but by 11:00 we were at the trailhead at Esmeralda Basin. Whoa - was it cold! It is only about 4200 feet but it was definitely chilly. I pulled on another layer and a vest. I didn't bring my gloves or winter hat so I needed to get moving.

You start along the Esmeralda Basin Trail #1394. This is part of an old mining road and climbs besides the creek running up to the end of the basin. After about 1/4 mile, you cross a small creek and come to the junction of the Ingalls Way Trail #1390 which leads to the Longs Pass Trail. This trail switch backs through the open forest littered with moss and leaves before emerging to the open slopes below Longs Pass. The vistas open up to Esmeralda Peak, basin and Fortune Pass. At about 2 miles you come to the junction for Longs Pass. Here the trail gets serious and climbs 600ft in 1/2 mile. It was also getting colder. We could see frost along the side raising up the soil with the spiky crystals. The way is mostly through serpentine and red rock. The blue sky is broken by the white snags. Thankfully it is cold. It would be hell hot on a summer day.

After about 2 hours, we reach the top and Mt. Stuart appears in all its glory. It is the second highest non-volcanic peak in Washington at 9,415 ft. The slope is dotted with golden larches tumbling into the Ingalls Creek Valley. The boys continue on up to the right to see the views and I decide to stay back and wait for lunch. Lunch was quite yummy - cheese sandwiches on homemade cinnamon bread and lemon orzo salad. G brought along a soda as a surprise which I really enjoyed but it made me very cold. I had to get up and walk around to warm up. G gave me some gloves that he had and I found a sunny warm spot on the rocks below where I waited for the boys to finish lunch.

We said goodbye to the mountain and headed down. It took half the time to make it back. We needed to make it over Snoqualmie Pass by 6:00pm since they were closing the road for repairs. The shadows lengthened and we were on our way. Another glorious fall hike.

Wild Turkeys on Teanaway Road
Wild Turkeys seen on the Teanaway Road on the way to the trailhead

Cascading stream at Esmeralda Basin trailhead
Esmeralda Creek cascading near the trail head

Esmeralda Trail starts as part of an old miners road
Esmeralda Basin Trail starts as remnants of an old mine road

Climbing up on Ingalls Way Trail
The Ingalls Way trail branches off and starts to climb

Pointing the way to Longs Pass
Junction to Longs Pass

Looking towards Longs Pass
Longs Pass is in the distance

Happy Hiker
Happy Hiker

Serpentine Rocks along Longs Pass Trail
Serpentine rocks along the trailside

Polystichum lemmonii - Shasta Fern
Polystichum lemmonii - Shasta fern grows among the rocks

Tarn showing the way
Tarn to show us the trail among the rocks

Vistas Across the Esmeralda Basin
Enjoying the vista across Esmeralda Basin

Nearing Longs Pass
Nearing the pass - the trees are sparse

Mt Stuart and Ingalls Creek Valley
Mt Stuart and Ingalls Creek Valley with golden larches

Vista from Longs Pass towards Eastern WA
Looking out towards Eastern Washington

Looking towards Peak 6878 north of Longs Pass
Looking opposite way towards Peak 6878 and Fortune Pass from Longs Pass

Lone Larch along the trail
Lovely Larch along the trail

October 19, 2010

Reflection Lakes Loop

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

It was another couple of glorious fall days this week. I don't know how long it is going to last. The forecast is for a significant storm approaching and due to arrive on Sunday. Freezing down to 5,000ft; Torrential rains; Snow in the mountains. We had to get out. Hopefully not the last time.

We decided to go to Mt Rainier. We have done the Reflection Lakes Loop several times in the past. We typically go clockwise starting from Paradise, we head up the Skyline Trail across Edith Creek basin and then across Mazama Ridge to Faraway Rock before descending down and back up to Paradise. G suggested that we reverse the loop. What an excellent idea.

The trail traveled south. Tatoosh Ridge was in the horizon and the fields blazed in the morning sun - red, gold, evergreen. The loop is about 5 miles and Faraway Rock is halfway. You have wide vistas down Stevens and Box Canyon east while looking down on Reflection Lakes. We hiked into the vista of fire and ice on Mt Rainier on the trail back to Paradise. Everything glowed ablaze in the fall sun.

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

Reflection Lakes Loop Trail

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