Monday, October 8, 2012

Tolmie Peak, 5.6 mi.

Occasionally, Facebook leads to something good, and being a fan of the Washington Trails Association's page led to this featured "Hike of the Week." A special bonus was that it was a hike we hadn't done before -- always high on my criteria list when choosing an outing. Because it is within Mount Rainier Nat'l Park, we couldn't take the little forest pig along this time. We even went so far as to put on our hiking pants in the garage, out of sight of the little one, since both pups go crazy when they see the hiking pants come out. 

After leaving the smoothness of paved roads, it is approximately 17 miles along the bumpy gravel road to this particular park entrance (yay Subaru!)Thank goodness we are early birds, because the dust was incredible, and it would've been awful to be behind another vehicle for that long. We were the 2nd car to park along the roadway, but the first hikers to hit the trail.

We'll go this way!

 Mowich Lake, at the trail head, was a sheet of glass.

As I was uploading these photos, I had a very difficult time determining which way was "up," the reflections were so perfect. Can you see the shoreline?

Pretty trail along the edge of Mowich Lake. Despite the sun, the morning was quite chilly to start.

So many choices!

 Big scenery dwarfing The Big Guy.

Looking up while crossing a scree can make you dizzy!

If you look in the gap between the two trees, to the left of the tip of that middle tree, you can see Tolmie Lookout way up there. Standing here, it was very hard to believe that was only .9 miles away. Not to mention, it was quite clear that .9 miles was going to be a grinder.

Going to check out Eunice Lake, down below the lookout.

The Big Guy playing with the panoramic camera feature. *Click on these pics to see the whole shot.

We made it! At times, we could hear people behind us on the trail, and we were determined to be the first to summit. We had about 15 minutes alone at the lookout. We won!

It was pretty cool, too. I am terribly afraid of heights, but this lookout has a lot of ground around it, so even though you're, obviously, up quite high, you only feel as high as the deck. If that makes any sense. Other acrophobics will know what I mean.

The Big Guy's panoramic* shot from one side of the deck to the other.

The lookout wasn't open, but the view into it was neat. Here is proof that I walked the deck!

The Mountain*. On the east side of peak shown center-left here, we saw a mountain goat. The sun hit its coat for a split-second and lit it up like a beacon. Before I could get my camera trained on it, it dipped back over the ridge. Darn it!

Hey, come down from there, I'm hungry for lunch!

The Winners.

Our lunchtime view.

On the trek back down. We were down by noon -- a title I also considered when I named this blog -- and, not surprisingly, the road was positively packed with cars by that time. We zipped away from the crowds and back home to the pups and our own little piece of heaven right here.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Huckleberry Hikin'

I'm a bit behind in updating our adventures. This "hike" happened the last weekend of August. I put "hike" in quotes because these berry-picking outings don't really involve all that much hiking. First, you have to drive up to the mountains as if you are going to go for a real hike.

You will see pretty flowers like these.

And wispy things like these.

And red seed-pod things like these. Together, the red, white, and blue was so stunning.

You do have to walk across some of the alpine fields to get to the berries. The pups like that part a lot.

My three best friends enjoying the warm sunshine. The temps were perfect this day, and while there were several other cars parked along the forest road, we had the fields to ourselves. So peaceful!

 Some of the berries were up high, but mostly they were very low-growing this year, and we could practically sit in one spot to load up our buckets. We had gone in search of huckleberries, but found far more blueberries ready. By far more, I mean we came home with 7 lbs. of mountain blueberries.  That wasn't the best part of the day, though.

This was the best part. Otter finally got to go again. At 13.5 years old, he has had to sit out the hiking for awhile now, but today he was able to come along and enjoy the mountains again and more than a few berries. My sweet huckleberry hound.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Plumb Local

Because we hadn't planned where to go in advance, we woke up this morning still debating our options and not really feeling like traveling very far. We are fortunate to live very close to three state parks, and two of them became our destination today. We'd both been to the parks before, of course, but not for years and years. 

We started at Nolte State Park, which is small as state parks usually go. It's a day-use type of park that circles a pretty lake with a small beach, a playground, some picnic areas, and a lovely trail around the lake.

Obey the signs!

Very good!

Pretty painted turtle having a sun bath.

Next, we headed down the road to Kanaskat-Palmer State Park. 

This park is located on the Green River (yeah, that Green River.)

Follow arrow?

This little one followed the pink arrow to the river.

Oh, look! Huge huckleberries!

I needed a nice trail snack.


Here was something neither of us had seen before. The Big Guy, with a nose for such things, followed a little spur trail toward the river that came out at the top of these rocks -

and down to the river where it skims over the rock creating this wonderful place. I'm sure almost any month but August sees this area mostly underwater, but what a treat it was today. 

Zuzu follows The Big Guy out onto the flats.

Walking on water.

You don't always have to go far to find a little wonderment. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mesatchee Creek Do-Over - 7 miles

Almost exactly one year ago, we attempted this trail but were unable to complete it due to a river crossing for which we weren't prepared. For comparison, here is last year's post:

This year we were ready! I had on my new Hike-a-Thon shirt, and we had our water sandals strapped to our packs. We were gettin' across that river come hell or hi-- well, whaddaya know?

 Big trees make The Big Guy look small. The little bridge that last year's signs warned might collapse had, indeed, collapsed at one end, but it was still passable. In fact, now that one end rests on the rocks, it seems more stable than before. Next stop, the river!

There was a log jam that we could've traversed, but the trees weren't all that wide and they were covered with broken branch spikes, and I couldn't get the image of one of us getting impaled on them out of my head, so into the water we went. The Big Guy went first so he could figure the depth. Even though it was clear and you could see the bottom, the depth can fool you! He also had to help Zuli "swim." He got wet up to his pockets, which meant that I would get wet up to my hips. Which further meant either I got my shorts soaked, or I took off all my pants. The fact that there are no pictures of me crossing the river tells you which option I chose. I wonder if that gets bonus points for the Hike-a-Thon?

Zuli used this sapling to "dry" off.

We met a little friend along the way.

There were some teeny-tiny falls.

And some very big falls!

Me and my girl. 

There were a few sprinkles on our drive there, and thunderstorms were forecast in the Cascades, but obviously they didn't materialize.

Not all views are about "the" mountain.

Crossing the river on the way back didn't require any forest streaking, thankfully, since we were able to access a different shallow area. The Big Guy almost lost a boot, though, when he first crossed and I saw it floating away behind him. Fortunately, the current wasn't too strong right there, and he was able to catch up to it. It also floated upright and didn't even get wet inside. Zuli got a lift, which she prefers to swimming.

We opted to stay in our sandals for the rest of the hike out, but it sure was nice to have a few stream crossings to wash out the pebbles and cool the tootsies.

No burgers at Whistlin' Jack's this year, but we did get the traditional after-hike milkshakes at Wapiti Woolies.