Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category
Friday, February 28th, 2014
I am slowly but surely waking up from my marmot-like winter hibernation, so while I’m stretching my paws and getting my hiking mojo reset, I’ll play catch-up with some of my favorite trips from this fall.
Since we had our furry running coach, Brutus, with us, we picked a trail we knew would be excellent for running, the Ptarmigan Ridge trail on Mount Baker, but due to the heat (omgz way too hot for September – little did we know it would rain the rest of the month) and my getting over a cold, we ended up just hiking most of the day…
…with lots of breaks to cool off in streams and roll around on snowfields.
I love this trail. Similar to Paradise and Sunrise on Mount Rainier, Ptarmigan Ridge lets you cheat your way through thousands of feet of forest and drive straight up to the timberline. Alpine views from start to finish!
Last time we were here, we stopped and camped at the turquoise lake, but this time we had our eyes set on the Portals, which you can see in the distance in the photo above. Last time we also didn’t have any views until the last fifteen minutes of the hike, so we were kind of blown away this time.
Still, I was feeling pretty blah from my cold, so Brutus and I took a very satisfying nap while JK and the Italians explored the Portals.
The hike back to the car was breathtaking (the views, not the trail – it’s mostly flat) – Mount Shuksan ahead…
…and Mount Baker in the rear view mirror, all taken in while snacking on trailside huckleberries. Hells yeah.
Oh, and marmots, marmots all around. All in all, it was an excellent summer for marmot sightings.
It was hard to leave, so we stopped the car at Heather Meadows to watch the sunset and feed the hounds before driving the long road home to Redmond.
This was the perfect ending to the best and most fulfilling summer of my life – so far.
Friday, January 3rd, 2014
Aaahhh, 2013. So much beauty. So many marmots. So many rewarding experiences. And fantastic weather (unless I have a very selective memory).
We started the year off right with a cross-country ski trip to Amabilis Mountain. For a while (a looong while) there it seemed like we weren’t going to pop out of the clouds, but when we finally did, it was glorious. A week or so later, I met up with Janelle for our first hike together, in postcard-perfect snow conditions on Mazama Ridge.
In late January, JK and I jetted off to the Virgin Islands for the best vacation of our lives (so far) on the small island of St. John. I don’t know why I never get around to blogging about our big trips (but have countless blog posts from Tiger Mountain), but I promise to write about this one soon, because wow. For now, I’ll say that our favorite hikes were Ram Head, which starts from one of our favorite snorkeling spots, Salt Pond Bay, and the Lind Point Trail – not for the trail itself, but because it takes you to beautiful Salomon Beach.
Our car was totaled in a hit-and-run right before we left for St. John, so we spent most of the winter hiking in the lowlands until we could get another car. A weekend in the sun on Mount Hood was a welcome return to snow, even though we just hiked straight up to the top of the Palmer Chairlift and then back down again. As winter turned to spring, the newly ambulatory Nathan took us to Oyster Dome, which never seems to disappoint, especially when you can wear shorts in March.
In April, I participated in a bunch of trail work parties for WTA on Cougar Mountain. Since they end early in the day, I liked to go running or hiking afterwards, which would leave me hopped up on all sorts of endorphins and in love with the Shy Bear Trail. I also did one work party on the new Mailbox Peak trail, where I earned my shiny new hard hat and found solitude(!) on the summit afterwards.
May saw us eating our way through London, Rome, and Oslo with our families, and when we came back, I ate even more after picking marvelous morels on Teanaway Ridge with Dani and Jo. Mmm, morels. Then I decided it was time to get in shape, and kicked off the summer with an excellent long run on Cougar Mountain, setting grander goals for the summer.
It’s interesting how many Issaquah Alps hikes made it onto the list this year. I think it’s because I tend to run more on those trails, and the bigger the endorphin rush, the giddier I become. We had so many good hikes to Poo Poo Point this year, but I’ll highlight our June trip as it was the most amooseing. My annual birthday hike to Iron Peak was wonderful as always, and was followed by a most excellent night of camping along the Teanaway River. I really love that area.
July was big this year, and the weather fantastic. I accompanied JK on his final Washington volcano climb, Mount Adams, wrestled with the panic monster, and was rewarded with a truly epic glissade. A couple of days later, I hiked and ran the Mount Defiance Loop I’ve had my eye on for years. Score!
One of my absolute favorite hikes this year was Benchmark Mountain near Glacier Peak. It was a new trail for us, but it will definitely go on the repeat list. Wildflowers and views in every direction, and hardly anyone else on the trail. To round out the month, I finally hiked to Sahale, home of the most picturesque crapper of all time.
August means WTA Hike-a-Thon, where I get to hike as much as I can while raising money for trails. Yay! Mount Defiance made it onto the list again when JK and I escaped the clouds in Redmond and found wonderful sunshine and total solitude up there, even on a summer Saturday. Later that month, we hiked the Enchantments and Little Annapurna in a day, my big goal hike for the summer. It felt so good and I want more!
Our participation in TNAB sucked this year too, but we chose the one we did go to well. Rampart Ridge provided marmots galore and a ridonculous sunset. Oh, and a yellowjacket nest, but let’s not focus on that. My last Hike-a-Thon hike was Point 6262 above Minotaur Lake, where we (and the dogs) found lots of huckleberries and ate ourselves silly. The views were okay too, I guess.
More huckleberries were found along Ptarmigan Ridge on a very very hot day in September. After that I suddenly lost all interest in hiking, but I did manage to get out to finally see the golden larches in Headlight Basin in October.
My hiking blahs continued until JK and I were hit with mushroom fever (which sounds like a really gross disease) and took every opportunity we could to hunt, pick, and eat chanterelles, yellowfeet, and hedgehogs. This year we’ll start earlier…and we might have to buy an extra freezer. Right before Thanksgiving, we enjoyed an unseasonably warm and unseasonably sunny trip to Mazama Ridge, where we ran into Janelle (not surprising since I think she might actually live there) and Jessie welcoming the holiday season with a Christmas tree.
Then I got an ear infection followed by a bad cold, and the only hike I have done since Mazama was a short loop on Cougar. I’m sure my first hike of 2014 will lead my lungs to quiver and explode and my leg muscles to actually detach themselves from my body in protest.
Happy New Year!!
Tuesday, November 26th, 2013
Yikes, I don’t know what happened to my blogging mojo. (Un)fortunately, it shouldn’t take too long to catch up since my hiking mojo skipped town as well. It happens, sometimes I just burn out a little bit after summer.
So, let’s go back to the last day of August and my last hike of Hike-a-Thon 2013. Last year on almost this exact date, we hiked to Labyrinth Mountain above Minotaur Lake. This time we decided to take a left at Minotaur and scramble up Point 6262 instead.
The berries were plentiful on this hike, and we spent quite a bit of time stuffing our faces in the meadow below the lake. The dogs even started eating berries straight from the bushes, something we thought was hilarious until we realized that: a) they would come home and strip the blueberry bushes in our yard clean and b) they probably aren’t smart enough to tell the difference between edible berries and non-edible berries. Ruh roh.
I loved Labyrinth last year, but I think this peak was even better. Minotaur and Theseus Lakes looked beautimous below.
With views like this, Point 6262 deserves a mythological name of its own, no?
Wellie and Basil brought their adventure buddy, Brutus, along for this hike too, so I had all my favorite guys with me.
Pups, lakes, peaks, sun, huckleberries? Summer Saturdays don’t get much better than this.
Oh, and once again, Basil confused the minds of small children with his furlessness. After stroking Wellie’s (relatively) luscious coat, one of the little girls we met on the way down started petting Basil’s smooth skin. “This one feels like he’s naked! Is he naked?”
At least it was better than last year when, whilst snuggling with the nutrias at Yellow Aster Butte, our friends’ daughter informed us that “Basil doesn’t have any skin“.
Minotaur Lake & Point 6262 | 4.5 miles | 2500 feet elevation gain –
Humongous thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsors, little Nathan and family…
…fellow Mukmukian, Lindsay…
…fellow European, Barb…
…hiker extraordinaire, Elle…
…and Erik the Ooob! Thanks for supporting me – and WTA!
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013
Ehrm, I seem to have stopped blogging. Let’s just pick up where we left off and pretend this hike didn’t take place two months ago.
To the PCT!
Kendall Katwalk is one of the most popular hikes by Snoqualmie Pass, but, even though we’ve hiked here for six years now, this was our first visit. True to form, we left late, something that usually pays off in golden afternoon light and glorious sunsets. This time we missed the morning sun and had to make do with limited views and cold fog instead.
We’ve turned into wimpy fair-weather hikers (aided by two excellent Seattle summers in a row), so this weather was unusual for us…but it was honestly really nice to hike without feeling like I was drowning in my own sweat.
If definitely felt like fall, and the critters were prepping for the long winter to come. The pikas were frantically collecting impressive mouthfuls of noms to keep them going until summer, while the marmots were plumping up nicely for their upcoming snooze.
A freezing fog rolled in just as we reached the impressively engineered Katwalk, so we just had a quick snack before running most of the way back down to the car (luckily I had brought headphones so I could get Right Said Fred out of my head). I’ll have to come back on a purtier day.
The great thing about having hiked 20 miles the weekend before? It made these 12 miles feel like nothing. W00t!
– Kendall Katwalk | 12 miles | 2700 feet elevation gain –
Big thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsors, Jessie…
Thursday, September 5th, 2013
Oh, right, TNAB. I vowed to go to more of these Thursday evening hikes/sufferfests…then we went to one this winter, and promptly stopped. Why? Laziness, that’s why. Mostly, though, it’s because of the drive – rush hour traffic makes it difficult to be at the trailhead by 5:45.
Rampart Ridge? Worth fighting traffic.
To the family we met at the trailhead who warned us about the yellow jacket nest on trail, thank you so much! JK and Basil (who has the worst luck with bugs) still managed to get stung, as did some later arrivals, but Dani, Wellie and I managed to skulk into the woods and bypass the Nest of Evil. Luckily Basil seemed to be doing fine, but we gave him Benadryl just in case and kept a close eye on him the rest of the night.
If you’re hiking the Ramparts through “the backdoor” this fall, be careful, the nest is located right at the junction with Lake Laura, and the yellow jackets will repeatedly sting any man or beast who walks by. Last I heard, some thoughtful hikers had marked the area with flagging.
Moving on, the meadowy bits below the summit were full of scampering marmots, but I didn’t get a single good shot of them. Clouds and forest fire haze foiled my photography plans and cast the mountains in gloomy light…
…until sunset, when the sky ‘sploded in breathtaking pinks and purples. Whoa. When TNAB is good, it’s really good.
There was the usual drinking and chatting, oohing and aahing, joking and reminiscing (even some snoozing, courtesy of Basil, who was still high on Benadryl), and JK and I realized that we had missed this more than we thought.
We vowed yet again to attend more TNABs…and then Mother Nature decided that she would serve up epic storms every Thursday from then on.
If we’re going to fight traffic, it’s going to be for something a bit more pleasant than “rain Armageddon“. So…maybe next week. Or next year?
– Rampart Ridge | 4.5 miles | 2,200 feet gain –
Humongous thanks to my Hike-a-Thon sponsors, Kelsie…
…and Lyn! Y’all rock!