Sun Jul 30, 2006

Annette Lake [Amanda West]

On Saturday, Amanda, Fes, and Mel hiked up to Annette Lake. Annette is located rather close to the Denny Creek area, off of I-90 Exit 47. (Go right instead of left.)

The hike to the lake is 3.5 miles, (7 miles round trip,) with 1800 ft elevation gain, primarily through forest. It starts out easily, gets a little daunting with switchbacks in the middle, (which are still nowhere near as bad as the stairs to Bridal Veil Falls), and flattens out with some rocky crossings before getting into more forest. The lake itself kind of sneaks up on you, as there is no telltale descent into it. It is small, but pretty, and I imagine would be great for a swim on a warmer day.

The descent was much faster than the climb (as is usually the case) but a little harrowing at times, given the number of roots and rocks poking up out of the trail. If you're tired (as I was getting) it makes it really easy to, say, catch your toe on a root and attempt the throw yourself into a ravine. (Though this is a good way to scare the people you are hiking with.) The trail is noted by a lot of websites as being heavy use, and it was, inasmuch as we encountered other hikers ever 15 minutes or so. Still, at no time did it feel particularly crowded.

Overall, I'd say this hike was a good choice for a beginner and two vaguely out of shape hikers, and an excellent way to spend a Saturday.

Photo gallery here.

Posted by: LeeNy on Jul 30, 06 | 11:20 am

Tue Jul 25, 2006

Hurricane Ridge/Lake Angeles [Ethel and Anthony]

Ethel and I had quite the adventure this weekend! We took a backpacking trip starting out of Hurricane Ridge, down to Lake Angeles. This has to be, hands-down, one of the best hikes I've been on yet. We got up at 4:30 on Saturday morning so we could get ready and catch the 6:10 ferry to Bainbridge, hit Port Angeles sometime around 8:30-9:00 A.M. and hit the trail around 9:45. I had originally planned to hike out to Heather Park, which is a backcountry campground in alpine meadow on the northwestern slope of Mount Angeles, but decided upon Lake Angeles when we learned that there might not be water at Heather Park.

The route we chose took us from Hurricane Ridge, and then from Hurricane Ridge there's a trail called the "High Ridge" aka "Sunshine Ridge" which starts at a small junction of trails below Sunshine Hill (or is it Point?). This early in the morning, there were a healthy number of tourists on the small meadow trails, but when we got onto the Sunshine Ridge trail there was practically no one. Well, that's all their loss really because Sunshine Ridge was two miles of the best alpine walk I've ever taken in my life, which says a lot considering all the time I've tromped on Mount Rainier and Green Mountain growing up around here. The sun was shining, but the steady breeze provided relief from heat.

That didn't stop the air from smelling beautifully fragrant from a kaleidoscope of beautiful alpine flowers in brilliant blues, lavenders, reds, oranges, whites, and yellows, and the sweet scent of pine and wild strawberry. Sky blue butterflies, monarchs, and bumblebees were buzzing and fluttering everywhere. One of those memories that people tend to take with them to their graves. There was one couple who had caught up to us at one point, but after we passed the junction with the climbers' trail to Mount Angeles, we were blissfully alone again. [ to continue. ]

Posted by: LeeNy on Jul 25, 06 | 11:32 am

Mon Jul 24, 2006

Mt. Adams Summit [Chris Laurel]

I joined a couple friends this weekend for a climb of Mt. Adams via the non-technical South Route. They were training to climb Rainier in a couple weeks; I was just jonesing to get above the timberline. We left Seattle at 3pm and arrived at the trailhead just before 10pm. We stopped for dinner, groceries, and gas along the way, but driving straight through would still have taken a long time--probably about five hours. The camping area at the trailhead was no-frills. It took us about twenty minutes to set up a couple of tents in a clear area just a few feet from the forest service road.

We wanted to get an early start and avoid being on the mountain during the midday heat. Alarms were set for 4:30, and we were on the trail by 5:20. The trail began at 5600 feet and rose gradually at first, clearing the timberline in a couple miles. Above the trees, we enjoyed beautiful views of Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Hood, but the route itself wasn't pretty. There weren't the alpine meadows or spectacular glaciers of Rainier and Baker. Mostly, there were piles of volcanic rock interspersed with channels of snow. Between 8000 and 8500 feet the snowfield became continuous. There was a solid boot path in the snow, so we didn't feel like we needed to put on our crampons even in the steeper sections. A section of loose rock right before the summit was slightly more challenging than the rest of climb, but I've been on much worse scree than that. Having to wear on windproof layer to keep warm on the final portion of the climb was a relief after dealing with this heat wave.

Reaching the 12,276 summit was much easier than I expected. It was a 6,700 foot ascent, and we completed it in just over five and a half hours and hardly felt winded. I'd been thinking about bringing my snowboard, but decided against it because I was intimidated by the prospect of doing all that vertical while hauling the board on my back the whole way. I shouldn't have wussed out; the snow was soft and sticky, but I could have enjoyed a nice long July snowboard run. Instead, we glissaded down the top half of the route. The glissade paths were well worn, some of them with five foot high walls and twists like a bobsled course. Lots of fun, but still not as good as being on a board.

If we'd left Seattle earlier on Saturday, we could have hiked a few hours and camped at one of a number of areas higher on the mountain. We would have had a campsite with beautiful sunset views of Mt. Adams, as well as a shorter summit day. Breaking the climb into two days is not what you want if you're doing the South Route largely as a training hike, but otherwise
I'd recommend taking the extra time.

Trip photos are here:

Posted by: LeeNy on Jul 24, 06 | 2:21 pm

Sun Jul 09, 2006

Silver Fir Campground/Heather Meadows [Anthony and Ethel]

Got back from a lovely camping expedition to the Silver Fir car camping grounds at the end of Highway 542, a sliver of road wedged between Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan and the Canadian border. Amazingly beautiful terrain with a ton of trails in the area and way less people than the I-90/Hwy 2 corridors offer. Mostly people from Bellingham, and Soviet Canuckistanians making day trips and short overnighters. Ethel and I are convinced this is our second-favorite chunk of wilderness real estate, next to Olympic National Park.

The Silver Fir campground is an awesomely quiet, small campground (21 available comparison the Hoh campground offers 89, Ohanapecosh on Mt. Rainier: 205...and Silver Fir takes reservations), with direct access to the Nooksack River. The campground was one of the most insanely clean campgrounds I've ever been to. The camphosts obviously rake and clear the sites of deadfall making the camper's sport of collecting firewood very difficult. The river came in handy, along with my filter since the water pump was busted and didn't offer potable water when it was running. I also got to practice my log splitting technique with my hatchet, which I learned from watching The Hidden Blade. Samurai movies are very educational. [ to continue. ]

Posted by: LeeNy on Jul 09, 06 | 11:37 am

Sun May 21, 2006

Staircase Rapids Loop Trail [Ethel and Anthony]

Wrote this while relaxing by the campfire last night:

"We have established our first camp of 2006 at Staircase, on the southeastern corner of luv-er-ly Olympic National Park. What started out under gray skies in Seattle turned to blue on the shores of Hood Canal, and continued to this lovely campground on the banks of the Skokomish River. We took a hike shorly after we arrived on the Staircase Rapids Loop trail. It was an awesome hike through moss-draped old growth forest next to a raging whitewater river. I got to try out my water filter, which worked out great, and got a glacially cold drink. Dinner was excellent, expecially the grilled spring onions when the fire burns and caramelizes them. Discovered that Ethel's quite the pyro, finding small bundles of kindling to keep the towering inferno going. Now darkness falls...will the bear that the ranger told us was prowling the campgrounds come shambling through ours?" [ to continue. ]

Posted by: LeeNy on May 21, 06 | 11:44 am

Fri Mar 31, 2006

Winter Hiatus

Though the site seems idle, the members are active, and those who haven't broken their arms have been on the slopes this winter. But spring has sprung, and we have reservations near Mt. Rainier for Memorial Day Weekend 2006. Stay tuned for early season trip reports.

Posted by: LeeNy on Mar 31, 06 | 9:30 am

Sun Aug 28, 2005

Surprise Lake [Cat and David]

David and I hiked up to Surprise Lake yesterday. Definitely the best hike I've done so far this season. The Washington Trails website gives an estimated time of six hours for the hike and it took us just about exactly that (including 45 minutes at the lake for lunch and a quick swim). It's eight miles round trip, with about 2300 feet of elevation gain.

Despite all of the climbing that we had to do on the way to the lake, this hike never felt all that arduous. (Washington Trails rates it as "more difficult" but I wouldn't say it was any harder than the trail to Lake Valhalla, although longer obviously.) The trail gets rocky in places, but these rough bits alternate with pleasant wooded stretches of soft pine-needle trail. Even when you reach the switchbacks about two miles in, you're never in full sun for very long. As you climb you get some really gorgeous views and there are plenty of comfortable places to stop to catch your breath and have a sip of water.

Still, four miles of climbing is four miles of climbing, and we were tired and ready for a rest when we reached the lake. I wouldn't call it all that much of a surprise, but it does kind of sneak up on you. And it's very, very beautiful.

From the northern end of Surprise Lake, where we stopped, you get a good view of the surrounding mountains. The top of the lake is fairly shallow and the water is crystal clear. There was some sort of algae growing on fallen logs at the bottom of the lake, and it gave the water a blue-green tint. (It looks like the lake gets deeper further south, but we stayed on the shallow end.) We found a pretty little clearing to stop and eat lunch at, and I went for a swim to cool down. The water was cold, but not as icy as Valhalla -- undoubtedly because it's shallower. There were berry bushes all around the lake's edge, and we munched on huckleberries and blueberries for desert.

The hike back down was much easier, although tedious in places due to the rocks. The last two miles, in the mostly shaded valley floor following Surprise Creek was quite pleasant.

I didn't get to many good pictures, but I've got some posted at

Posted by: LeeNy on Aug 28, 05 | 9:26 pm

Tue Aug 23, 2005

Get em before they're gone!

It's finally berry season! We took a little day hike up to Lake Valhalla a couple weekends ago, and the trail was lined with ripening huckleberries and blueberries almost the whole way up. I even made berry pancakes on Sunday with the leftovers. (I didn't spend a lot of time harvesting the blueberries - I've been getting them from fruit stands and grocery stores all summer. The wild ones are quite delicious, though.)

We even found some red huckleberry bushes in our campsite. They needed another week or so to ripen, but they were plentiful.

Tonga Ridge is a really nice ridgewalk with acres of berry-filled meadow at the end. If you want to go up for your own berries, that's a great place to go - but a lot of other people think so, too, so I'd start early in the morning to avoid the crowd. And watch for bears!

Posted by: LeeNy on Aug 23, 05 | 10:18 am

Tue Jul 05, 2005

Lake Josephine.

Cat, David and I set out at an ungodly hour on Saturday, and headed up to Steven's Pass. Found the PCT trailhead (in the SE-most parking lot), loaded up our gear, and set out. Met a hiker and his daughter who were coming back down. He said he'd seen a bear or bear cub about 800 yards above the trail in one of the meadows, but we didn't see a sign of it.

The trail started climbing immediately, steadily but not terribly steeply alternating between woods and the edges of ski runs. The ski runs are basically like meadows, filled to the brim with wildflowers. We wound around a couple of runs, and under one or two lifts, then the real climbing began, mostly in the woods. The trail was pretty good, though rocky in places, getting more so the closer we got to the ridge. We took a break at the top of the ridge, until the breeze got too chilly. It was overcast, with thick bands of fog and low lying clouds drifting about, though it never actually rained.
[ to continue. ]

Posted by: Gray on Jul 05, 05 | 3:16 pm

Mon Jan 10, 2005

Mt. Baker Report

A few of us travelled up to Mt. Baker this weekend to get some of the
snow that had fallen there on Friday. It was beautiful. There was snow
all over the ground from Bellingham to Mt. Baker.

We stayed in Maple Falls (next to Maple Fuels and Mountain Dos - har har,
they are so funny.) The place was pretty nice for Baker standards. (If
you've ever stayed at Baker, you'll know what those standards are...)

We hit the mountain on Sunday. And while a lot of the freshie powder was
already skied out, there was plenty of powder and soft conditions to be
found. The canyon was awesome. In general, it was a fun day.

There still are some obstacles you need to watch out for, though. A random
rock, tree, or sheet of ice still can be found on the main runs. But it
definitely was the best conditions we've had this year yet.

And best part? No one got injured on this trip.

NOTE: This Tuesday night they are expecting upwards of 15" of snow in the
North and Central cascades. We are finally getting some of the fluffy
white stuff we need desperately.

[Report by Julie]

Posted by: LeeNy on Jan 10, 05 | 11:34 am

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