Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Weekly Hike #14: A Bonus

At the start of the summer, my goal was to do one hike per week, totaling 13 hikes by September 23, the first day of autumn. Our hike last week at Paradise was number 13, but there remained more than a week of summer left, so on September 20, Mr. D and I did one last bonus hike. I had a lot of other things that needed doing that day, so we opted to do a shorter hike—the Talus Loop Trail on Mount Si. This is a kinder, gentler hike, not the four-mile, 4,100 foot slog up to the top of Mount Si. Mr. D does that hike numerous times during the year, even in winter.  I've never had any inclination to join him, despite the fact that it's one of the most popular hikes in the state.

As you can see from the sign, it's 1.7 miles from the trailhead to the start of the 1.3 mile loop; 4 miles round trip. There is a fair amount of uphill on this trail—a 1,700 foot elevation gain. The forest we hiked through was beautiful, filled with moss-laden trees, like this one:

There were some large Douglas firs along the trail, too, and here and there we came across some tiny streams wending their way through the forest.

About half-way through the hike, we came to the highest point, a rocky ridge, with some large flat boulders that made a great place to sit and have a snack and enjoy the peek-a-boo view of a very familiar mountain.

Mr. D tells me that the view of Mount Rainier is even more spectacular from the top of Mount Si, and because I survived the hike to Surprise Lake, I could certainly survive Mount Si. Hmmm...maybe next year.

While this isn't necessarily the end of my 2011 hiking season, the weather is getting cooler and there will soon be snow in the higher elevations, so it may be lowland hikes, walks and adventures in the coming weeks. Whatever we do, I'll be sure to document them here.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weekly Hike #13: Paradise

Weekly Hike #13, to Mount Rainier, was scheduled for Wednesday, September 14, because the forecast that day was for cooler weather. Mr. D and I did not want to repeat hiking in 80-plus degree heat, as we had done the previous week at Snow Lake. When we got up early Wednesday morning, the weather was definitely cooler, but it was also cloudy and gray, and it remained that way during the entire three-hour drive, until just after we drove through the entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. Then, as if on cue, the clouds parted and the sun burst forth. The only thing missing was the angels singing...

The hike started out from Paradise, located at 5,400 feet on the south slope of Mount Rainier. But it also was paradise. The wildflowers, blooming exceptionally late this year due to heavy spring snows, were at their peak, and everywhere we looked there were lupines, lupines and more lupines! Their fragrance was indescribable—a wonderful spicy perfume that I wish I could capture in a bottle. In addition to the thousands of lupines, there were also Pearly Everlasting (the white flowers in the meadow below), Alpine Asters and Pasqueflowers.

The trails at Paradise are an interesting mix of easy and difficult. The trails that start out near the visitor center are paved, and some are smooth enough to be wheelchair accessible. The higher and steeper you go, the more difficult the trail. Below are photos of the Skyline Trail just below and just above our lunch spot at Panorama Point (elevation 6,800 feet):

The hiking was hard sometimes, but always satisfying, because everywhere we looked there was a spectacular view.

Since this hike last week, the weather has grown cooler, and we've had rain for the first time in over a month. At Paradise, the lupine blossoms have probably faded, and the first snow is not too far in the future. But I have these wonderful images of the final hike of the summer to remember until the lupines are in bloom once again.

We'll be back next year, Mount Rainier; we'll be back.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekly Hike #12: Hot!

On Wednesday, September 7, Mr. D, my sister-in-law and I decided to hike to Snow Lake, in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness near Snoqualmie Pass. I've hiked this trail two or three times before, the last time about three years ago. I was a little nervous about this choice on this day, because the weather forecast predicted hot and sunny, and the trail has very little shade. Mr. D countered my misgivings by pointing out that we would get an early start and be up to the lake before it got too hot. Well, he had the right idea, but it was still quite warm on our climb up.  Much of the trail is steep, rocky and out in the open, as you can see in the photo below (that's my sister-in-law ahead of me on the trail):

We did eventually make it up to the ridge overlooking the lake basin, and the view almost made up for our uncomfortable ascent.

There were mountains in every direction.

The water in the lake was an amazing shade of blue-green, and bear grass, in full bloom, brightened our path.

While we were enjoying all of this lovely scenery, it was getting hotter and hotter, and it was well into the eighties by the time we headed back down the trail. It was definitely not a fun trip back to the trailhead, but I survived (just barely) to hike again. More about our next hike (#13) is coming up soon!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Finishing Flurry

I was going to title this post, "Finishing Frenzy", but it hasn't been very frenzied, and I still have a lot of projects on the needles. I did have a little flurry over the last couple weeks, however, and I want to share the projects that came off the needles.

I had my biggest "ta-da" moment when I finally, after almost three months, bound off on Yvonne, my It's the Berries Vest.

I began knitting this in early June, and the two-hour long bind-off happened on August 31. Despite the very repetitive pattern, which might seem boring, I really enjoyed this project. It was almost always my car project on days that Mr. D and I went hiking, and that helped me to finish it a lot sooner than I might have otherwise. It's a lot of knitting—at the end I had 544 stitches on the needles—but it is well worth the effort. I can't wait to wear it!

After finishing a big project like this one, I usually want a change-of-pace small project. Over the next few days, I finished two small projects. The first was French Kiss, designed by Nikol Lohr.

The designer bills this as a "two-hour beret," but I'm a slower knitter than she is, so mine is called the Four-Hour Beret. It's knit with bulky yarn held double on size 13 needles, and it does knit up very quickly. It's a mystery to me why so few people have knit this little gem. It's also a great stash buster; look how much yarn was left when I finished:

My other FO was my standard change-of-pace project—a dishcloth. This time, it was a new riff on "Grandmother's Favorite", my Old Favorite with a Twist. The pattern is eLoomanator's Diagonal Knit Dishcloth, and I love how it turned out. I'll be knitting more of these in the future!

Today I'm off on the last hike of the summer. I'll be back with a report on last week's hike in the next day or two, as well as my thoughts on "almost UFOs". Stay tuned!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Weekly Hike #11: Chilly on the Pacific Crest Trail


On the last day of August, Mr. D, my sister-in-law and I decided to hike a section of the Pacific Crest Trail. The weather in August had been gorgeous almost every day—sunny and in the 70s—except on the day we chose. When we left home, it was cloudy, cool and a bit misty.  When we arrived at the trailhead, it was even cooler and very foggy, but we are intrepid hikers, so that didn't stop us.

Mr. D had been telling me for a week how beautiful the views of surrounding mountains were on this stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail. That may be true, but this is what I saw on August 31:

That's Denny Peak behind the fog.

The snow has melted off recently, so although we couldn't enjoy the mountain views, we did enjoy the wildflowers along the trail.

We saw Scarlet Paintbrushes, Western Columbines, and Brown-eyed Susans.

Everything was going along fine until we came to this:

I had seen a notice at the trailhead about a a number of trees that were blocking the trail at around the four-mile mark. There was a big wind and rainstorm last November that had caused the blowdown.  The trees at least gave us a place to sit. so we decided to stop and eat our lunch and figure out how to get around the trees after we had eaten. The problem was, once we stopped moving, we began to get cold, and so after quickly eating our sandwiches, we turned around and headed back to the trailhead. 
This hike gave us taste of fall hiking on the last day of August, but, as you will see in my next weekly hike, summer is not over yet!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Farmer's Markets

I love farmer's markets. All those veggies, flowers and fruit, not to mention the food and crafts. It's a  feast of color!

I've been making pictures at farmer's markets for the past couple years. Here are some of my favorites, from the Bellingham Saturday farmer's market (tomatoes); the Pioneer Courthouse Square Monday farmer's market in Portland (berries and bread); the Edmonds Saturday market (the market scene above and the poppies and hand-painted silk scarves); and my local farmer's market, held on Sundays in Lake Forest Park (sweet red peppers).

Let's go to the market!