Monday September 22, 2014
Photo of the Day: Mount Townsend, Sunday
This weekend we had friends in from New York, visiting (and participating in) the Port Townsend Film Festival, and what's a visit to the Pac Northwest without a grueling hike? That's what we did yesterday. This is near the summit, along the Little Quilcene trail.
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I really should've had them a bit more in the lower left, shouldn't I? Oh well. It's the immensity of it all that matters.
Monday August 25, 2014
Annette Lake, August 2014
P and I went on a hike with our friends Ben and Diana yesterday. This was our destination and lunch spot.
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This is the third time I've hiked Annette Lake. It's not a bad hike, almost always under a canopy of trees so cooler than most, but hardly something to write a blog about. It's medium length (3 miles one way), without much elevation gain (1,000 feet or so), and fairly accessible: less than a mile from Exit 47 off of I-90. It's also not very crowded. The ending is pretty but hardly Snow Lake.
I think about it, though, because the first time I hiked it, in Sept. 2011, I was done almost before noon. It felt like child's play to me: too easy. I felt super strong. A month later I came down with what was diagnosed, a month later, as subacute thyroiditis. I've been in the wake of that ever since. Life gives and life takes, and this is one of the things it took. It'll take more.
Sunday August 03, 2014
Photo of the Day: Mount Dickerman Summit
It was a beautiful day for a hike in Seattle, and with P down with a broken toe I decided to summit Mount Dickerman, which I haven't done in about 10 years. It's about 8.5 miles roundtrip, 3900 feet elevation gain. Here's a shot of the summit.
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I actually think of Dickerman as “the Derek Jeter hike,” since the first time I went, 10 years ago, my friend Jim, who grew up a Yankees fan, kept going on and on about how great Jeter was and—get this—I was too tired to argue back. Imagine. This time, I also ran out of gas a bit near the summit. But not that bad.
The wildflowers were out, too.
Wednesday July 09, 2014
Mount Rainier, Sunday
We took this on the Noble Knob trail on Sunday. Click on the pic for a bigger version:
Looks unreal, doesn't it? Like a painting? P always thinks this. It's like Rainier is just too stunning to be real.
This was the second time we'd hiked the Noble Knob trail. The first time was more than 10 years ago, and I had some vague sense of dislike about it. Was it too hot? Not shady enough? Too flat and thus not challenging enough? Did I dislike the fact that you could see Rainier all along the trail, rather than at the end, so it felt like getting dessert before dinner and I'm too Puritan for that shit?
It was all of that, but it was mostly the dirt road you have to take to the trail head: bumpy, dusty, rocky for six long miles. We bottomed out three times on the way up, no times on the way down, but ... that stretch isn't fun. On the way down I timed it and it took us 40 minutes. Not exactly speedy. Ultimately the trail isn't quite worth the road in.
But Rainier? It's real and it's spectacular.
Saturday August 10, 2013
Above the Clouds on Granite Mountain
“Writing is of use to the psyche only if the writer discovers something he did not know he knew in the act itself of writing.”
-- Norman Mailer, “The Presidential Papers of Norman Mailer,” pg. 219
I read that quote early this morning while I was contemplating a hike up Granite Mountain. I'd planned on the hike but woke up to see a different weather report. Rain? Thunderstorms? Possibly? I decided to drive out to the trailhead, see what it was like. At worst, I'd just turn around and come back.
Norman was big on the journey without a known destination. He was anti-repetition. I kept thinking about that in the early stages of the hike. I was on a hike whose ending was known to me—I'd done it two or three times over the years—but today I didn't know what I would find. Would the weather turn bad? Would I have to turn back?
About a third of the way up, I came upon a clearing with blue skies peeking through and inwardly rejoiced. A second later, the switchback switched back, and when I came out on the woods on the other side we were socked in again.
Then I noticed the wildflowers. They looked beautiful with the sun filtering through the condensed air.
The wildflowers were even more out when I left the woods completely and scaled up the south side of the mountain.
Off and on, we were still socked in. I worried there would be no view. But near the top, before the final ascent to the lookout tower, I got above the clouds and could see the Cascades, clearer than normal on a late summer day.
And by the time I got the top, well, no complaints.
Here's to not knowing what the end will look like.
Sunday June 30, 2013
Mt. Rainier from Mt. Si
My friend Ben and I hiked up Mt. Si today on one of the hotter days of the year in the Pac NW. I was looking for a good hike with a view that was less than 4500 feet, since that's where the snow line is right now, but maybe 8 miles roundtrip with 3,000 feet elevation gain isn't a good hike to inaugurate the year. I'm still feeling it. The top had swarms of dark black bugs that hurt when they bit. Anyone know what they are? Crowded trail, of course, with a few runners. One guy passed us going up (as we were going up), then passed us going down (as we were going up), then passed us going up again (as we were going down). That's commitment. Or something.
In the end, not bad for a couple of 50-somethings. Even if Ben complained the whole time.
Rainier from Si.
Me on Si.
Sunday May 05, 2013
First Hike of the Season: Lake 22
Beautiful weather today in Seattle—81 degrees right now, which is insane for this time of year—so Patricia and I took advantage by hiking up to Lake 22 off the Mountain Loop Highway. Well, not all the way to Lake 22. After 90 minutes or so, we ran into one patch of snow, then a second, then a lot. We stopped at a lot—I'm guessing about a half mile from the lake. Maybe those who hiked all the way know.
Nice hike, though. The mountain streams and waterfalls are flush with clear spring runoff. You'd get near one of those waterfalls and the temperature would drop 10 degrees.
Patricia on the long bridge.
Sunday October 07, 2012
Mt. Pilchuck: Breathtaking Twice
I was going to call this post “Rocky Horror Pilchuck Show,” since, as I was climbing Mt. Pilchuck on this glorious, glorious fall day, there was a couple ahead of me, then behind me, whom I couldn't shake (I kept stopping to take pictures), and whose male half kept droning on and on. About nothing. In a loud baritone. It was like being pursued by the Bore-anator. That same kind of calm, plodding persistence.
But eventually I did shake them and forgot about them amidst the beauty of the hike and the fall colors.
Here's a video from the summit. The Cascade mountains were clearer to the north than the south. I filmed it from the rock on which I was eating lunch.
One day I'll figure out how to make better movies.
Here are some of the fall colors:
Sunday August 12, 2012
Granite Mountain Redux (Redux)
It was blue skies and 80s in the Pacific Northwest today so I did one of my favorite hikes, Granite Mountain, about 40 minutes east of Seattle on I-90. It's a pretty difficult hike—4 miles one way, 3800 feet elevation gain—and I‘ve had health issues recently, but it was a great day. Much of the hike is along southern exposure, so once you’re out of the woods, halfway through, you definitely get some heat. You also get a gradual view of Mt. Rainier. Going up, it's kind of like Rainier-rise: there's a bit of it, then more, then more. When you reach the cabin outpost at the top, on a good day, you‘ve got a clear view:
iPhone cameras don’t do it justice.
On the way down, it's Rainer-set: a little less, a little less. By that point, of course, you want it to go away so you‘ll be closer to the shade of the woods. Southern exposures can be brutal. At the same time, as with all loves, it’s tough to say good-bye to Rainier. And as with all loves, your love doesn't care.
The outpost, by the way, is a functioning outpost, run, this day, by Bob, a former Washington Trails Association member, who, five years ago, became a volunteer USFS member. He spends weekends, June to September, on Granite Mountain. This outpost is apparently the third one built on Granite Mt. The first was a cabin, built around 1912. The second was a cabin with a cupola for viewing in the 1920s. “Like a lighthouse?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. Then in the 1950s, they decided to combine cabin and cupola and put the entire thing on stilts. That's how we got what we got. Which I love. In the photos below, Bob is the right-most photo, the right-most person:
My first trip to Granite Mountain was two years ago.
Last year I did it again with video.
Sunday August 21, 2011
Day Hikes from Seattle: Bandera Mountain
The guidebook, or guide website, mentions a fork in the trail about an hour into this hike: one path heading to Mason Lake, the other up to the summit of Bandera Mountain. It also mentions that, on the Bandera Mt. path, things get pretty steep. They ain't kidding. On the way down, I noticed that the hill is so steep it's actually convex rather than concave. It curves, like the earth, and you lose sight of people on the other side of the curve.
Nice trail, all in all. Starts out wide and gently sloped, gets steeper past your first (and only?) waterfalls, opens into meadows and wildflowers. Then it makes you choose: a lake or that hellish ascent to the summit. I went latter. The summit, or false summit, is actually a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping for 360-degree views but no such luck. Rainier was way out, though. Bandera is actually one of those Mt. Rainier, peek-a-boo hikes. You go along a southern exposure in which you get the tip, then the top, then the whole of Mt. Rainier.
Sunday August 07, 2011
Half of Mt. Pilchuck: Powder in August
I was late getting my teeth straightened and I was early losing (some of) my hair, so for a time, when I was 19, I feared I would exhibit the imperfections of youth and age simultaneously: bald with braces.
I remembered that post-adolescent injustice today while hiking Mt. Pilchuck in the Cascade Mountains. From the moment you get out of your car at the trailhead you're inundated with flies and mosquitoes. They're still bugging you an hour later, halfway through the hike, when the trail disappears under snow, making it difficult to continue unless you have serious hiking boots and ski poles.
Mosquitoes and snow? Imperfections of winter and summer? C'mon Nature, pick a season and end it.
For a time the hike seemed almost too pristine. Early on, it was a damp, a clue that the snow was still melting, but then it gave way to long stretches of a fairly easy, almost too easy, gradation. WTA had even built some steps into the hike. I breezed along, trying to get away from the bugs.
Around a corner the dirt-trail becomes a rock trail, which I find difficult to pick up. Ten minutes later, the rock trail disappears beneath patches of snow. Then “patches” disappears, leaving only the snow. This is as far as I got:
I could've gone further but at one point took a step and disappeared up to my knee. Bad sign.
On the way down I saw four dudes hiking up with skiis. “That's the idea,” I told them. They were pumped. Powder in August.
Sunday July 24, 2011
Granite Mt. Redux
Two years ago hiking Granite Mt., I missed the turnoff for Granite Mt., went a mile out of my way (two counting the return), and wound up with a 10-mile hike rather than a mere eight.
Today, the first nice weekend of the year in Seattle, I returned. Didn't miss the turnoff this time but probably should've checked the snow conditions. Put it this way: the prepared brought their crampons; I brought a turkey sandwich.
A good day, nevertheless.
P.S. First time attempting audio commentary. It'll get better...