Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Weekly Hike #11: The Last Weekly Hike (Maybe)

Remember back in January, in my annual goals, when I said I was giving myself a pass on hiking goals? Well, the fact that I only have done eleven weekly hikes means I have made good on that promise. I am not swearing off on ever doing weekly hikes again, and in fact, I'm sure there will be more this year. But with the first day of autumn only six days away, and with rain in the forecast for the end of this week, it is not likely that I will get out on the trail much, if at all, before autumn begins. Autumn is my favorite time to hike, however, so I'm pretty sure there will be a few more hikes before the rainy season begins in earnest. So what follows is not the last weekly hike ever (far from it), but almost certainly the last weekly hike of the summer of 2014.

On August 26, Mr. D and I decided to go to one of our favorite spots to hike, Wallace Falls State Park, and to hike to the Upper Falls viewpoint, a hike destination that I vaguely remembered getting to once, several years ago. But Mr. D wanted to practice the uphills, because of what he had on his back:
Yes, that is a heavy-duty backpack, loaded with camping gear. Mr. D was going on a two-and-a-half-day backpacking trip with our friends and former neighbors over the Labor Day weekend, and he wanted to practice hauling his gear on our hike. I was happy that I didn't have to haul anything but myself up the steepest sections of that trail!

Wallace Falls State Park is a beautiful place, and hiking there is a pleasure. To start with, there is the forest, which is mostly Douglas fir, but also includes some cedar and hemlock.  I love how tall and straight the trees are here. One of my Flickr contacts described this upward view as being "as if you were in a tree tunnel". I love that description, and it is so true.
The trails at Wallace Falls also follow the water. Here is the view at one of my favorite spots, taken from the bridge over the North Fork of the Wallace River.
And then there are the falls. I have seen the Lower and Middle Falls more than once, and photographed them, too, but the Upper Falls were new to me.
I love that old, dead tree, balanced so perfectly between the rocks on either side of the falls.

I know I will return to Wallace Falls State Park many more times in the future, and I will always find something new to enjoy and photograph. I hope you will "hike" with me and my camera when I do. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Weekly Hike #10: A Mini-Hike on a Hot Day

On Monday, August 11, the hottest day of the summer, we took a very short hike. There were a couple reasons for this. First, it was hot; second, my sister-in-law and my nine year-old nephew were visiting, and we wanted to do a hike that would be fun for everyone. We drove up to the Denny Creek trailhead, and headed for the Denny Creek water slide, two miles up the trail. Mr. D and his sister set the pace:
This trail is pretty gradual, and crosses Denny Creek more than once.
It also goes directly under Interstate 90.
 Once we arrived at the water slide, it was apparent that there wasn't enough water to actually slide (the result of a pretty dry summer), but the nephew and sister-in-law still enjoyed playing in and around the creek. That is the two of them on the left in the photo, which was unfortunately, the only photo I got of their water activities.
While the two of them played, I sat on a large rock with Mr. D and enjoyed the beauty of the surrounding forest.

I also spent some time knitting on the second of my couplet socks. You can see a bit of Denny Creek in the background.
We were lucky that we were in the mountains for most of the day. The temperature up there was in the mid-80s. Once we headed home, we realized how hot it was down in the Seattle area. This photograph was taken about five miles from our house. It shows the temperature display in our Prius at that very moment. The official high temperature for the day was 96 degrees, but we know it was really hotter...
Fortunately, now the temperatures are cooler, and there is a hint of early morning crispness in the air, so autumn knitting season is on its way. I'll update you on my knitting projects and plans in the next post.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Weekly Hike #9: Beyond Sunrise

On August 8, Mr. D and I got up early and headed to Mount Rainier National Park and our first hike together in over a month. Usually, when we go to Mount Rainier we enter the park from the southwest corner and head right up to Paradise. This time, however, we had heard that there was roadwork going on between Longmire and Paradise, and that there could be substantial delays, so instead, we entered the park at the northeast corner and headed to Sunrise.

Sunrise is, at 6,400 feet, the highest point reachable by road on the mountain. Sunrise also is a place of spectacular views:
There was a trailhead near the Visitor Center, with lots of destinations, all of them up:
We decided to hike to Frozen Lake. The trail was steep, but smooth, and we made fairly quick progress. That's Mr. D ahead of me on the trail.
We reached Frozen Lake, and discovered that they call it "frozen" for a reason. Not only was there snow still floating in the lake in August, but there was a very cold wind blowing across it. Despite having to immediately switch from short sleeves to sweatshirts, we stopped to enjoy the view.
Initially, we thought we would circle back to Sunrise via the Burroughs Mountain trail, but a large snowfield (and neither of us with our hiking poles) caused us to turn around. Instead, we walked for a half hour on the Berkeley Park trail, which provided more spectacular views.
Then, because we wanted to move on to another part of the park, we headed back to Sunrise. But before getting in the car, we enjoyed one last look:
The rest of the day's adventures didn't involve hiking, but I'll share some highlights:

We ate our lunch on the shore of the beautiful Ohanapecosh River, and then strolled through the Grove of the Patriarchs, home of magnificent old growth cedars and Douglas fir trees.
Then we drove up to Paradise, our favorite spot on the mountain. On the way there, I shot this photograph of the south face of the mountain:
This turned out to be our only glimpse of the summit, because by the time we reached Paradise, the top of the mountain was completely shrouded with clouds. We contented ourselves with a short walk along the edge of the meadows, and enjoyed the scent and sight of blooming wildflowers. Then we headed home.
We aren't through with Mount Rainier for this hiking season, however. We will be heading back for a day of hiking at Paradise in September, weather permitting, so stay tuned.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Weekly Hike #8: Lots of Falling Water (But Not Falling Hikers)

Okay, let me start off by saying that I am ashamed that this post is about a hike that happened well over a month ago. I'm even more ashamed to admit that there have been no hikes since then, although there was a lot of travel and tons of walking, just nothing that could be called a real hike. I will fill you in on some of that travel in a later post, but now I want to get this post out of the way, because another hike will be happening tomorrow.

Mr. D and I didn't have a whole day for a hike, so he suggested that we hike to Bridal Veil Falls, which is an off-shoot of the Lake Serene Trail. He also said that it should be a fairly gentle hike—famous last words!
At first, he was exactly right, the trail was level and smooth
But then we took the off-shoot to the falls, and the trail changed drastically...
The scenery along the trail was worth it, however. Here an old growth stump serves as a nurse tree for two of its grandchildren.
After a half hour of very, very careful hiking, we finally reached the falls. It was pretty spectacular, but I'm still not sure it was worth negotiating all those rocks.
The views out across the valley were spectacular, too
Once we got back to the main trail, we walked a little further and stopped for a snack by this  small waterfall, which I liked even better than the roaring falls above it. And I didn't have to climb over a single rock to enjoy this one!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Weekly Hike #7: A Rock 'n' Roll Solstice

Yes, that photo is correct; on June 21, the summer solstice, I was up before the crack of dawn. I can already hear you asking me why. Well, I wanted to hang out for a few hours with about 18,000 of these people:

In addition to being solstice day, June 21 was the day scheduled for the Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, and Mr. D and I signed up months ago to walk in the half-marathon.

The race wasn't scheduled to start until 7:00 a.m., but all cars had to be parked by 6:00, so that is why that pesky alarm went off before 4:30. Once we got there and connected with Sarah, Martha and Tom, our walking buddies, there was time to look around.

Sadly, because of the events at the Boston Marathon last year, we had to see this policeman and 
his dog at work.

Do you think he ran the race dressed like that?

Here are, left to right, me, Sarah and Martha, in a before the race selfie.

At seven o'clock, the race started, and we were off—NOT! Because we were walking , and our predicted half-marathon times were slower, we were positioned in a "corral" at the back of the race. It took us almost a full hour to get to the start line. By that time, Mr. D was really impatient to get started, so he took off like a shot (and finished about a half-hour ahead of Sarah and me).

This year, unlike the Narrows Half-Marathon last year, I actually took a few photos with my phone along the way:

Seattle's tallest building, the Columbia Center Tower, right, and the Seattle Municipal Tower, left.

The first rock band, at the mile 2 marker.

The giant guitar player, near the half-way point.

The view between mile 11 and mile 12. 

Happy finishers. I finished in 3 hours, 33 minutes and 26 seconds. 

All this was good fun, and a great way to celebrate the solstice. To find out what else I've been up to in the last month, watch the blog in the coming days for another hike, a knitting triumph, and some other fantastic events.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Weekly Hike #6: Never Again!

This is going to be a very short post. The hike that we did, West Tiger Mountain Summit, was not a fun hike. Here are the reasons why:

  • The trail was very steep.
  • The last quarter mile was covered with a lot of loose rock, which was especially treacherous on the way down.
  • It was cold and misty at the top, so there was no view.
  • The hike took way too long, and then we had to wait until we got home to eat lunch.
  • Hungry = Grumpy.
I did see some photo-worthy scenes on the hike however, so I'll leave you with those. Don't worry, the next hike is so much better!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Weekly Hikes #4 and #5: Opposite Sides of the Same Valley

Don't worry, I'm not going to do any more of these "twofer" hikes, but these two occurred so close together in both distance and time that I decided to cover them in the same post. The valley in the title is the Snoqualmie Valley, and the two hikes in question are the west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail, which we hiked on May 31, and Little Mount Si, hiked on June 6.

I hiked the west end of the Rattlesnake Mountain trail a couple times last year, but this was the first time I've done it in the spring, with the accompanying new growth and seasonal bright greens.

This view is near the start of the hike. I love how the sun casts shadows of the alder trees on the trail. As we hiked further, we came upon hints of summer bounty to come.

This is a just-opened thimbleberry blossom, that will become a sweet red berry by early August.

Most of the forests in the foothills of the Cascade Range were once covered with Old Growth forest, which was, sadly, logged many years ago. You can still see evidence of those forests along many trails, and this one is no exception.

Here you can see the base of one of the giant Douglas firs that once covered these slopes, with much younger trees next to it and nearby. The stump and roots of this huge tree probably provided nourishment for the surrounding  trees when they were seedlings. Maybe, if we are lucky, these trees will someday be giants like their predecessor.

On June 6, a beautiful sunny day, we did our annual hike up Little Mount Si. Mr. D and I have been doing this hike at least once a season for almost as long as we've known each other. The hike is relatively easy, with only one steep and rocky section, the last quarter-mile before the summit. Once on the summit, there are some spectacular views of the Snoqualmie Valley and the surrounding foothills. That's Rattlesnake Mountain underneath that one little cloud. The notch on the left end is Rattlesnake Ledge.

We always take a few minutes to enjoy the view and have a snack before heading back down.

On this hike, I saw two metal markers—one is in the photo below—attached to rocks on the summit. I'm sure that they have been there before, but perhaps I'm more aware of my surroundings than I have been in the past—I'd like to think so, anyway! Wikipedia tells me that the markers are used for land surveying. You can read more about the markers here.

As you can see from these two hikes, we had some perfect late spring hiking weather. Next up is a hike that wasn't so perfect, followed by the first hike of the summer. I'll be back soon to tell you all about both of them.