Archive for March, 2010

Trip Report 28

  • Points:  1
  • Trip Dates:  July, 2005
  • Wilderness Area:  Henry M. Jackson
  • Wilderness Size:  100,356 acres
  • Location:  Western Washington
  • Destination:  Lake Valhalla
  • Total Miles:  Approximately 6
  • Duration:  Day hike

Lake Valhalla

I dragged my future wife, Wendy, and our two dogs up to this beautiful lake in the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.  It’s a pretty typical hike to an alpine lake in the Cascades.

The picture below is of our mutt, Dozer, retrieving a tennis ball from the water.  He will wade, but will not swim.  Our other dog, a Corgi named Codee, doesn’t retrieve, but loves to swim… Go figure.

Dog in the lake


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Trip Report 27

  • Points:  1
  • Trip Dates:  July, 2002
  • Wilderness Area:  Buckhorn
  • Wilderness Size:  44,258 acres
  • Location:  NW Washington (Olympic Peninsula)
  • Destination:  Marmot Pass
  • Total Miles:  10
  • Duration:  Day hike

Marmot Pass

The sound didn’t register at first.  But, once my brain processed it, I stopped and immediately looked up to the ridge where it came from.  It wasn’t like anything I had ever heard before–it was loud and long and sounded like a cross between a human scream and a wolf’s howl with a hint of monkey.  Now, I’m a skeptic on the question of Sasquach (bigfoot).  But, if you do some looking around on the internet for so-called “recordings” of Sasquach, I have to say that it is very similar to what I heard.  The fact that this trail was in the epicenter of Sasquach lore only added to the mystery.

I contend that whatever I heard was some kind of bird.  I never saw the animal that produced it.  When I heard the sound I was nearing the crest of Marmot Pass on the boundary between the Buckhorn Wilderness and the vast Olympic National Park.

I sat on a flat rock on the pass, alone, looking west into that massive wilderness of Olympic.  I was still a little bit nervous about the strang howling I heard just a few minutes prior. 

This is one area I would love to return to.  It is simply magnificent.  As it was, I had traversed the breadth of Buckhorn Wilderness from the east to the west and back.

The trail somewhat follows the very clear Quilcene River in a gentle incline before breaking higher and skirting the slopes to reach the timperline crest of Marmot Pass.  The views in both directions are amazing.

The photo above was found on the internet.

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Trip Report 26

  • Points:  1
  • Trip Dates:  August, 2000
  • Wilderness Area:  Mount Rainier
  • Wilderness Size:  228,480 acres
  • Location:  Western Washington
  • Destination:  Just below Camp Muir
  • Total Miles:  Approximately 9
  • Duration:  Day Hike

Mount Rainier

The Muir Snowfield

Parasise Meadows at Mount Rainier

Locals in Washington often refer to Mount Rainier simply as “The Mountain.” It absolutely dwarfs everything around it.  It is 14,411 feet of pure mountain rising all the way up from near sea level.  It contains the largest glacial system in the lower 48 states, by far.  It is the largest single mountain by volume in the lower 48 states, by far.

Think of this:  Mount Rainier and Rocky Mountain National Parks are about the same size.  The matriarch peak of Rocky Mountain is Longs Peak which is a formidable and sizeable mountain.  But, Longs and its ridges and slopes encompass maybe 5 percent of the land area of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Mount Rainier’s slopes, on the other hand, covers probably 50-60 percent of the land area of Mt. Rainier National Park, as evidenced by the map below.

Map of Mount Rainier National Park

A friend and I set out on a day-hike to Camp Muir at 10,000 feet, which serves as the base camp for most people attempting the summit.  We made it to just a couple hundred feet below the camp before turning around because my friend’s boots were soaked through from the Muir Snowfield.  Rather than risk frostbite, we stuffed her feet into plastic bags and got down fast.

This hike is a tale of two worlds.  The first half is a beautiful, if somewhat steep, hike from Paradise Meadows up to the terminous of the Muir Snowfield.  This part is characterized by stunning views of Rainier behind fields and fields of mountain wildflowers as you climb along the well-traveled dirt path.

Then you step on the ice of the Muir Snowfield and for the next 2-3 miles are kicking footsteps in snow and listening to icefalls, like stomach growlings, on the big mountain.

On the way down we slid on shutes of snow–nature’s slides!

The photos above were found on the internet.

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Trip Report 25

  • Points:  1
  • Trip Dates:  July, 2000
  • Wilderness Area:  Mount Rainier
  • Wilderness Size:  228,480 acres
  • Location:  Western Washington
  • Destination:  Crystal Lake
  • Total Miles:  Approximately 5
  • Duration:  Day Hike

Crystal Lake in Mt. Rainier National Park

I did this hike with some friends.  I remember a steep switchbacked walk up to a nice lake, but it wasn’t especially exciting by the standards of the Cascade Mountains.  There were some views of the giant Mount Rainier, but if I remember correctly, the mountain was hidden from our view for most of the hike.  I also remember an unusually large number of mosquitos.

Still, it was a nice day in the park, and if I can recall it by memory alone, then it was a better day than 99% of those spent in the office.

The picture above was found on the internet.

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Trip Report 24

  • Points:  1
  • Trip Dates:  August, 1999
  • Wilderness Area:  Mount Baker
  • Wilderness Size:  117,528 acres
  • Location:  Western Washington
  • Destination:  Skyline Divide Ridge
  • Total Miles:  Approximately 6
  • Duration:  Day Hike

Skyline Divide Trail and Mount Baker

Mount Shuksan from Skyline Divide Trail

The term “takes your breath away” is an over-used cliche.  But, there are times when it is literally appropriate.

I sat on top of the ridge munching on lunch and looking down at my feet.  We had been enshrouded in a thick fog for the entire hike.  I was a bit dissappointed because I knew something about the splendid scenes that were hidden behind that mist.

Then the rocks and plants around my feet seemed to brighten up just a bit, and I glanced up.  There before me, through an opening in the fog, was a perfectly framed Mount Shuksan, across the valley.  My breath was quite literally taken away.  It was simply the most magnificent mountain scene I had ever witnessed in person.

The fog gradually continued to break up, and before long, it wasn’t just Mount Shuksan, but as well the snowy flanks of Mount Baker displayed before us.

I have hiked and backpacked in both Colorado and Washington State.  Although I am still partial to the unique characteristics of the Colorado high country, the northern Cascades of Washington are simply magnificent in terms of their displays of vertical rock and ice.  Those are real glaciers, not mere snowfields.  And, many of the Cascade Peaks, although not as high in actual elevation, are much, much bigger mountains than anything found in Colorado.  Mount Baker, for instance, is less than 11,000 feet in elevation at the summit.  But, it’s almost 11,000 feet of  pure mountain, the entire thing rising up almost from the  sea itself.  Mount Rainier… well, we’ll talk about Mount Rainier in another post.

The Skyline Divide Trail is a short, steep and sweet hike up to one of the broad shoulders of Mount Baker itself.  A typical northwest forest of big trees gives way to the breath-stealing, speech-halting sights gained on the ridge.

The images above were found on the internet.

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Trip Report 23

  • Points:  1
  • Trip Dates:  July, 1999
  • Wilderness Area:  Stephen Mather (North Cascades Complex)
  • Wilderness Size:  634,614 acres
  • Location:  Western Washington
  • Destination:  Thunder Basin up Thunder Creek
  • Total Miles:  12
  • Duration:  Day hike

Bridge over Thunder Creek

The Stephen Mather Wilderness Consists of four segments:  There are the north and south segments of North Cascades National Park, split by Hwy 20.  In the middle are the Lake Chelan National Ross Lake National Recreation Areas.  All combined they make for one huge area of unbelievable backcountry.  Some call it the Swiss Alps of America.  Having been to the Swiss Alps, I think this does the North Cascades a disservice.  The North Cascades are magnificent in their own right.  Other places should be called “The North Cascades of (fill in the blank).”

The Thunder Creek/Basin Trail was a long 12-mile round-trip day hike that barely scratched the surface of this massive area.  The creek is well-named as its swift waters “thunder” along towards Diablo Lake, turqois in color from glacial flour.

This is Great Northwest Country with HUGE trees, glimpses of high glaciers, and thundering water.  I would love to go back and explore this area some more and really should have when I lived in Seattle.

The picture above was found on the internet.

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Trip Report 22

  • Points:  1
  • Trip Dates:  August, 1998
  • Wilderness Area:  Noisy-Diobsud
  • Wilderness Size:  14,133 acres
  • Location:  Western Washington
  • Destination:  Watson Lakes
  • Total Miles:  Approximately 6
  • Duration:  Day Hike

Watson Lakes

The Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness is a small area that is adjacent to the giant wilderness of the North Cascades National Park, which is itself a part of the 634,000 acre Stephen Mather Wilderness.  So, don’t be deceived by the small 14,000 acre size of “The Noisy.” It is merely the edge of a vast wilderness.

This was a nice little day hike that started from the end of a long dusty road above Baker Lake.  Watson Lakes lie just inside the boundary of the Wilderness, and the approach brings fantastic views of impressive glacier-clad Mount Baker.

After visiting Watson Lakes I took a side trip over to Anderson Lakes which sit just outside the wilderness.

The image above was found on the internet.

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