Archive for July, 2009

Holy heat wave, Batman!

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

Things are amiss here in the gray land of coffee and rain: Seattle broke it’s all time recorded heat record today by reaching 103 degrees. Gaahk! Our house is 94.3 at the moment and my viking body is not happy about it.

It’s pretty much too hot to do anything else but go swimming or collapse naked in front of a fan, so I went for one of the least active activities I could come up with – scrapbooking! Unfortunately the upstairs office (where all my scrap crap lives) was baking in the sun, so I had to drag some paper and supplies downstairs. I quit after this one layout because the process of cutting things was making me sweaty and, as it turns out, fans and paper don’t mix. Sure felt good to make a page again though. Scrapbooking, I missed you!

Mama

This is a lift of a page by the wonderful Jessica Sprague from the September issue (I love how you get the September issues of magazines in July) of Creating Keepsakes. I got to use my new favorite font, Reuse by Quickutz.

I’m off to go take a cold shower (and I should probably force the pups in there to cool them off a bit) and then go to the movie theater to take advantage of their air conditioning. When it’s cold outside you can at least put on more clothes; this is torture!

Alpine Lakes Blood Drive

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Poor Bobby has been suffering from various ailments (intestinal issues and broken bones) all year and hasn’t been able to hike much, so now that he has a clean bill of health we wanted to gently reintroduce him to the mountains. With 19 miles RT and only 1550 feet of elevation gain (according to the book, but it felt like more – possibly because it’s been a while since I carried a full pack. And possibly due to all the laziness and fatness. Ahem.), Spectacle Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness seemed to fit the bill.

We took it easy on the way in to make sure Bobby was doing ok, and stopped after 4 or so flat miles to have lunch by Pete Lake. I have never heard anything positive about Pete at all, so I was pleased to find a very pretty little lake nestled below some impressive mountain scenery.

Wellie & JK Bobby

Bobby seemed happy and energetic even in the heat, so we carried on towards Spectacle Lake. After 7 miles or so we got to the double creek crossing where a ranger was hanging signs – apparently the bridge is out on the alternate trail via the PCT, so you have to ford the creek either way. It wasn’t deep, but it was pretty damn cold – here’s a video of the first half of the crossing:

We hiked onward and (finally!) upward with the ranger for a bit (hi Billie! ) until she forked off towards Escondido and left us to battle the dusty switchbacks up to Spectacle. The first view of the lake from the ridge is amazing, I fell in love instantly. Unfortunately the local mosquitoes had similar amorous feelings for us, so we hurried down and along the lakeshore to find a good campsite.

Spectacle Lake

The mighty explorers

JK eventually spotted a great site at the very tip of the little peninsula, and we wasted no time getting the tent up and hiding inside. JK went for a quick swim, but apart from that and eating dinner, we pretty much spent the whole evening in the tent, reading and snoozing. Stupid little vampires.

Tent in the morning

We were hoping it would be better the next day since it was supposed to be windy, but by then the mosquitoes were bad enough that we elected to have breakfast in the tent, something we never do. We spent a couple more hours reading before deciding to just give up and hike out.

We cleaned off some trail dust in Pete Lake (heavenly!) on the way out and hurried out the last four miles to the car. I need to either grow thicker skin or be more liberal with the DEET. We spent a month in India for our honeymoon and the mosquitoes were NOTHING compared to here in the Cascades.

If only the tent wasn't so warm

I might have been less pissy about the skeeters if the little buggers had been polite enough to avoid my face, but noooo, I had to walk around for the next week with a face full of what looked like giant, bulbous zits.

Taking a dip

Here’s a clip from JK (and Wellie’s!!) swim in Pete Lake – it’s a wee bit long since I haven’t found a video editing program yet.

Hopefully I’ll be able to go back here later in the season when the little bloodsucking monsters have died.

First solo hike

Friday, July 17th, 2009

After ten days on the East Coast where the most active thing I did was walk out on the Brooklyn Bridge, I was itching to get back to the mountains. I didn’t want to wait until the weekend, so I decided to embark on my first (gasp!) solo hike. Ok, so I had Sir Wellington with me, but he isn’t very talkative.

Since I don’t drive*, my brilliant and very patient husband agreed to shuttle me to Snoqualmie Pass and pick me up after work. I suspect he has finally realized how much easier I am to live with when I hike regularly.

Tasty Beef Wellington

JK dropped me and Wellie off at the Denny Creek trailhead and we started up towards the lakes. After reading on the FS website that Melakwa Lake was “not accessible from the Denny Creek trail” and seeing the signs about the “extremely hazardous” conditions where the bridge was washed out, I was amused to find a wide, completely dry path across the creek.

Melakwa Lake Outlet More columbine

The hike up to Melakwa took longer than I thought due to the heat (and possibly due to all the diner food I ate on the East Coast), but was well worth it – this was my first summer visit to the lake and it was absolutely gorgeous.

Lunch with a side of views

After eating lunch and lounging around by the upper lake, I headed down the trail to Tuscohatchie. This was kind of a pain in the ass for a trail that is actually on the map (and I love that the Forest Service recommended this approach to Melakwa instead of Denny Creek). I missed the first switchback and suddenly realized I wasn’t on the trail anymore, and I had to look around for a minute to find it again. After this the trail was easy to follow, but very rocky, muddy, brushy in some places and with enough downed trees to make it annoying. I was going a little faster than I should have, jumped off a log, rolled my ankle and fell onto the end of another log that went straight into my thigh, turned around to help Wellie get over the log and then did the same exact thing with my other thigh.

Finally we got to Lower Tuscohatchie and lazed around, soaking our feet in the water. It was heavenly.

Lower Tuscohatchie Lake

After Tuscohatchie it’s a short way to Pratt Lake. The lake itself was somewhat underwhelming, but the trail was full of tiger lilies and hummingbirds. The trail up from the lake took longer than expected, once again due to heat and the after-effects of too many french fries. Ugh.

I was planning on dropping down to Olallie Lake from the Pratt trail following a little side trail that was marked on the map, but suddenly I was by the Talapus Lake junction and realized I must have missed the other trail. By then I was too warm to want to take the longer route, so I just hiked on to the Pratt/Granite trailhead to wait for JK. In retrospect I regret not using that time to take a dip in Olallie instead of snoozing at the trailhead with Wellie.

It's a beautiful day... Hot dog on a log More tiger lilies

All in all a good (but hot) day, hardly any bugs, hardly any people. I was more comfortable hiking alone than I thought I would be, but at certain points during the very lonely stretch between Melakwa and Tuscohatchie I took to singing loudly – I figured my horrendous renditions of Ingrid Michaelson songs would deter bears and scary, murderous woodsmen alike.

Miles: 13-14
Elevation gain: around 3500 feet
Pounds it felt like I had gained while on vacation: 23

*Living without a drivers license is perfectly feasible in Norway, not so much over here. I just started reading the WA drivers manual so I can start taking classes.

Baking at Sunrise

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

I’m behind on the blog yet again, but I refuse to excuse myself (mostly because my only valid excuse would be laziness). Instead I’ll write up a little trip report from a couple of weeks ago – I’m going to try to (maybe) dust of my old html skillz and make a hiking section for this site to get all my trip reports and photos in one place, so I might as well start writing them all up.

Good to see you again

The road up to Sunrise on Mount Rainier opened the last weekend of June, so we decided to revisit one of our first hikes, Burroughs Mountain. We planned a relaxed day since we were to be joined by a group of friends, but once again the number of participants dwindled down to just me and JK. Luckily I kind of like him and think he’s easy on the peepers, so I didn’t mind wandering around in the mountains with him.

The Sunrise area was mostly melted out with only a few little snow crossings left on the way to Burroughs.

I really liked this trail Trails like this one...

After enjoying our sandwiches on Second Burroughs while watching climbers making their way up the Emmons Glacier route on Rainier, we trotted back to Frozen Lake and up to the Fremont Lookout. We hadn’t been there before, and I was pleasantly surprised by the trail – I think I even prefer it to Burroughs!

Fremont Lookout & Grand Park

This whole area is so beautiful, possibly even more so than Paradise (and much more so than our photos can convey). It didn’t hurt that it was an absolutely perfect and HOT day! I wish we lived closer so I could explore this side of the mountain further during the workweek (our must-hike list is getting impossibly long for the number of weekends we have available).

Big Tahoma, little marmot

The only wildlife sightings we had were of these frisky deer and a well-fed marmot.

Spring fever Park Ranger

We had to leave earlier than we wanted to get back to the dogs (they’re not allowed on National Park trails, boo!), so after stalking the marmot for a little bit we turned around and walked back to the Sunrise parking lot which was swarming with tourists – apparently most of them just drive up, walk 15 feet away from their car to take a picture and then drive away again, even though the area is full of gorgeous but easy trails. Oh well, more solitude for us!

All smiles

This has been a very volcano-centric year for us (St. Helens, Baker, a bajillion trips to Rainier), but I don’t think I can ever get tired of Mount Rainier National Park.

Frozen Lake & Cowlitz Chimneys

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