A Walk To Ruby Beach

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The previous weekend we took the boys to one of our favorite winter spots, Kalaloch Lodge, on the Olympic Peninsula. After having fantastic storms all weekend, it cleared Sunday morning for a few hours and we ventured out to Ruby Beach before we headed home.

Ruby Beach is one of my favorite beaches. It sits right off Hwy 101, as the road sweeps along the coast, the first beach after being inland. It is a popular one for that, but also it just is gorgeous and has so much to see – from a creek, a forested walk down and sea stacks.

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Speaking of the forested walk down, there sits a bench that the boys love. All cozy, eh? A few seconds later Alistaire nearly pushed Walker off. Oh well.

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Even if all one can do is walk half-way down to this spot and sit for awhile and watch the ocean. The kids have been here often. I spread my Mom’s ashes on this beach, it means a lot to me.

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A quick walk down the forest to the beach…..

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Walker explaining to Alistaire all about logs….even if he can’t read.

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The tide was at high, backing up into the mouth of the creek. In summer the creek is shallow and easily crossed to the other side, for great summer beach walking.

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A group of fishermen came down, and forded the creek. Having forded many a creek/small rivers, doing it in fall or winter is rarely fun. One of those things I don’t do unless I HAVE to.

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The first 4 made it across with no issue. The last 2 had more “fun”. The last guy I am sure was wide awake after he went into a deep spot up to his crotch. He timed the waves wrong ;-)

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It was a pretty day: Sunny, windy, storm coming in…..

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Getting the 2 youngest to head back was hard, they wanted to stay as long as they could! A million rocks to toss? Oh yes.But there wasn’t much beach left with the tide.

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I bribed them with looking at logs in the forest. It was an easy and fun dayhike, perfect for small children. And as long as I am with them, that leaves me happy.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Sometimes I Need Me Time

Is there a mom who doesn’t feel guilty over taking personal time? I hate feeling guilty over taking hikes without my kids – and especially because Kirk watches them while I go out. But I also know I need that time. I am with them 24 hours a day otherwise. But more, for the first time in my life, I am finding I am timid with my kids. Ford went everywhere with me, he was hiking not long after he started walking. We hiked and backpacked thousands of miles. Taking Walker was natural as well. But I have so little confidence in taking Alistaire hiking, where it is me, Walker and Ford and Kirk can’t come. Honestly? What scares me is the thought of him having an allergic reaction in the backcountry with no other adult to help me. For me, this is beyond scary and I cannot wrap my mind around it. Maybe next year when he is older. We will see. Until then…maybe it isn’t bad for me to take trips with just me and no one else to worry about.

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I was supposed to go on a much longer hike with my friend Jared and help him finish a section of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) he hadn’t done, but by Sunday I was exhausted. By the kids, by the week and feeling really anemic. At least Jared is flexible and didn’t guilt trip me too much. I am grateful for that. And he likes to fly fish…and the lake we went to has plenty of fishies to play with.

Early morning at Sheep Lake today.

I end up at Sheep Lake at least once a year. It is pretty, large, has great meadows and is e-z-y to get to. (Seriously, 2.10 miles one way, with only a little elevation gain).

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Only one hitch…I was so tired I didn’t pack everything like I normally do the night before. I left my camera behind. Argh. Thankfully I had my phone along…but I really would have had so much more fun shooting flower photos.

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We ended up on the far side of the lake, where the fish were jumping (it was around 9 am). The wind was blowing steady most of the day, which kept bugs off of us.

For as sunny as it was, it was really cold at times!

If anything, it was chilly at times, maybe in the mid 60’s at most. Even though it was blue skies and sunny (it is though at mid 5,000’s for elevation).

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Jared was the only fly-fisher out there, and was the only one catching anything – he caught quite a few (he uses non-barbed hooks and lets them go).

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We spent a good half of the day just lounging around – OK, he was fishing. I spent my hours reading books on my phone (thank you Kindle app), napping and exploring the basin.

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The wildflowers were just opening, with Magenta Paintbrush opening.

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Give me lupine covered hills and I am in bliss.

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That and being lazy. Being lazy once in a while needs to be done more often.

~Sarah

Cherry Cupcakes and a Birthday Weekend Away

This all started with an idea. Why should one celebrate turning 40 with a black cake (or cupcakes)? Why not be happy? Go for bright. Celebrate spring coming! I was a March baby, and as I write this post…it is sunny outside. I am sure it won’t last, but I’ll enjoy the late winter promise of spring.

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I considered dried cherries, then fresh. Finding fresh wasn’t going to be easy or fresh, the produce man asked if frozen would work. Maybe it would….and off home I went. Helped I had a huge bag of frozen cherries waiting for me there.

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Cherry Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened cherry juice
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar, preferably organic
  • 1/3 cup neutral vegetable oil
  • 2¼ tsp pure almond extract
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch, preferably organic
  • ¾ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted, drained and finely chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°, line 18 muffin cups with liners, such as Reynolds Stay-Brite.

Whisk the cherry juice and vinegar together, add to a medium mixing bowl with sugar, oil and almond, whisk until dissolved.

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl, pour wet over dry, stir until just mixed, fold in cherries.

Divided equally between lined cups, rap on counter to settle.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool, then frost as desired.

Makes about 18 cupcakes.

Notes: 

If using frozen cherries, thaw, drain and pat dry, then chop.

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Cherry Frosting

Ingredients:

Directions:

Beat the shortening with a stand mixer until light. Add in powered sugar, beating in. Add almond extract and 1 Tablespoon cherry juice at a time, beating in, until spreading constancy is reached (mine took about 1/4 cup juice).

The frosting will be a light pink.

Frost as desired.

Now then…how did I spend my birthday weekend?

In a ton of emails one caught my eye awhile back. It was from Lake Quinault Lodge, which sits on Lake Quinault in Olympic National Forest. I have stayed there several times, it was an email with deals for previous visitors with a winter deal. I nearly deleted it, then I took a look. It was a bargain. Buy one night, get one night free, at a fabulous low price ($79 weekdays, $99 weekends plus taxes).

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And pretty much all of the rooms were up for grabbing at the lodge. Being that we are a family of 5, I grabbed the Beverly Suite in the Boathouse, which sits between the lodge and the modern lakeside hotel wing. It is rustic, but large, and more so, the only suite (ie. a bedroom for us!) at the lodge. For 2 nights we payed less than $138 (with taxes included). Considering that this same room can run for $239 to $289 a night, you can see what a bargain it was.

Yes, those mailing lists can be a good thing! The Boathouse is the oldest building of the lodge (built in 1923), the suite is the top story.

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They don’t lie, you do get a 360° view from the suite, with large windows and views of all sides, especially of the lake. The “suite” is a one-bedroom cabin. Very rustic but comfortable, and yes, large. It has a bathroom (with a very tiny shower), hide-a-bed couch, 3 roll-a-way beds, 6 person dining table, a partial kitchen that has a refrigerator, microwave, sink and a hot plate to use, along with dishes and tools. The bedroom has a king bed and love seat. Lots of ceiling fans and huge windows that open. You do have to climb a very narrow indoor staircase (though the landing before you head up is a great storage area for wet gear and getting boots on). The staircase is NOT child friendly, so we blocked off the top with one of the roll-a-way beds. A baby could take a very scary fall, so be wary. We brought his pack and play for safety. It was a great choice otherwise for our large family. Just be wary of the very slanted ceilings in the bathroom. Our poor teen kept knocking his head. Hehe.

At the price we paid, I was happy. No 5-Star, but for the price it was a good deal. (Although I can’t believe people pay $239 and up for the rack rates for this room!! It isn’t worth that….)

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We woke up early on Saturday morning to rain. Gee, no shocker there. It is a rain forest and it is March ;-) It is nice to lay in bed listening to it – and not be in a tent dreading getting out. After wandering around on the covered veranda below – and just enjoying the misty morning, we headed up to the lodge.

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Traveling with three kids isn’t the easiest thing I suppose, I learn new things every time. One is a lot of patience. And not over-planning. I let them wander and have fun. The baby had eyes only for the lanterns, his brother, The Toddler, for bossing around his little brother.

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Which resulted in “B! You get back here!” (B is Alistaire’s nickname) and B running away. It was one of those moments when life is good and all is well.

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After a fun breakfast (yeah, roughing it…maybe not) we set out for a hike. Where upon it dumped as it should in a rain forest. And kept dumping. Our trail eventually ran out, with it under a good foot of water. At least we tried :-D

When Walker was young, I picked up a Deuter Kid Comfort Deluxe Rain Cover to go with our Deuter Kids Comfort III pack. It has been worth the cost, Alistaire was bone dry inside the kid carrier and even took a nap.

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Walker, me and Alistaire on my back –

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I loved the tree. It looks to me like a large tree with legs, sitting down on the nurse logs (which was taller than Walker). Walker loved playing in the creeklet of water. Finally we got so rained out and with the trail under water, we called it a day. We headed back to the lodge, used that handy landing to dry our rain gear and spent the early afternoon in the lodge’s lobby, soaking up the heat from the fireplace, reading, talking and playing. Lots of other folks were doing the same. Add in a warm mocha and it was very relaxing.

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Walker enjoyed finding a tiny rocking chair and a pile of books –

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Late in the afternoon, the weather started clearing. Kirk watched Alistaire while he napped and told us to go hiking. I took Ford and Walker out on a short hike –

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We found a stream to enjoy –

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A set of waterfalls –

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And a bridge that Walker had fun crossing over and over –

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It was an odd hike in that it was sunny and 60° out!

After, we went out for dinner. We ended up having a 2 hour dinner that was so relaxed I wondered who had switched all my kids ;-) The kids all passed out happy.

The clear skies lasted through Sunday morning. One of the prettiest sunrises I have seen over that lake. We got up and had a nice family hike, all of us, before checking out.

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Me, Alistaire on my back, Walker and Ford (Kirk took the photo) –

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It was this small window of perfect weather. As soon as we got done hiking and were finishing loading the van, it started raining.

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My little hiker, Walker –

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The lake was calm –

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~Sarah

Of Hiking and Raw German Chocolate Bars

I was so happy last weekend, Kirk and I got the boys out for two hikes, both at Mt. Rainier National Park, which is up the road from us (literally!)

On Saturday we took the two youngest on a lake hike to Bench & Snow Lakes:

On Monday we went to Sunrise, which is the highest road in the park – the parking lot is at 6400 feet – in Washington State that is alpine.

I posted this recipe earlier this week on my other blog, TrailCooking, it was so tasty I had to share it here as well!

Last weekend I made a batch of raw German Chocolate Bars that I was inspired by a recipe I saw recently on a favorite blog, NomEatNom, I made these bars using my favorite form of raw cacao, Navitas’s Sweet Cacao Nibs. The sweet ones add just enough to take any bitter cacao taste away. They have a pleasant boozy taste that works well in raw bars.

Find the Medjool dates and raw pecans at Costco or Trader Joe’s for savings, Costco now carries young coconut that is shredded but I find that Let’s Do Organic is my favorite. You can get it online or at natural food stores like Whole Foods.

German Chocolate Bars

Ingredients:

Directions:

Add everything to a food processor, process on high until finely chopped and it starts coming together in a ball. Line a bread pan with plastic wrap, pack the mixture in, flattening. Chill for a couple of hours, slice and wrap each bar. Keep refrigerated until trail time.

~Sarah

FTC Disclaimer: We received product samples for potential review/recipe development.

Mama Went hiking and Got Vegan Ice Cream After

Kirk is an awesome husband. ♥ He gave me a kid free day out!

And I had homemade ice cream after – recipe is at the end!

On short notice the weather turned sunny for the weekend. My friend Dani was free on Saturday so we decided on going to The Carbon River area of Mt. Rainier National Park (click it to see a earlier trip report from two years ago and this one with Walker from last year.). Two reasons: we both love rain forest hiking and it was National Park freebie week. I haven’t bought my new NP pass for the year yet so I try to not pass up getting in for free ;-)

It was my first hike without Alistaire along. It is always an odd feeling to leave your babies behind but I know I needed it. A day of only needing to think about myself was just what I craved. Carbon is one I have done so many times – it is one of my favorite hikes due to the intense green and the quiet. A busy day there is a slow day compared to the trailheads closer to Seattle.

Dani doing a pose:

The dew was burning off quickly:

Me in front of one of the creeks that still run down the old road bed (from the 2006 blowout):

We got out to the old Ipsuit Creek Campground, which is now officially (finally!) a backcountry camp area as of last year. I am one who is happy with the Park Service keeping the old road a trail permanently (and it is bike and jogger stroller friendly). I drove the road many times and walking it is way more enjoyable. Part of the changes is privies that have been added, the old restrooms are gone:

The other big change is the soon-to-be finished guard station/log cabin. There was an old one that barely escaped the floods, the new one will be in the old car parking lot at the start of the junction to The Wonderland Trail. Change is good. It really can be. And yes, that was snow! Only in the exposed areas, everywhere else was melted out.

Another view:

I know I make a good living developing backcountry recipes. I was feeling lazy and picked up a sammie on the way to the trailhead ;-) It was tasty I might add – artichokes, guacamole, tomatoes and foccacia bread.

After being lazy in the camp (and having lunch at a picnic table) we started the long walk back down the Carbon River. Looking back up the river, Rainier had clouded over as is often normal (although from the angle here she isn’t visible).

It was a perfect hike – sunny, mildly warm. Great views, friendship, chatting and tasty food. Although by the end we clocked in over 11 miles and my post-partum thighs were telling me off. Hah.

My treat that night was homemade vegan-friendly ice cream – made with coconut milk. While it might not be everyone’s idea of perfect ice cream, I was in love with it! You will need an ice cream maker for it. I made Ford go dig for ours and blew off the dust. Now that we have a mini-chest freezer I find the maker’s core freezes better and gives a smoother, creamier ice cream. So if you have both, use the deep freezer! But don’t store the ice cream in it. I did and the ice cream became VERY hard. Lesson learned, store the finished product in the freezer in the kitchen.

Cashew and Pistachio Coconut Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 2¾ cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • ½ cup cashew butter
  • ¾ cup organic raw agave nectar
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ cup pistachios, roasted and salted, diced (measure after shelling)
  • ½ cup finely shredded sweetened coconut

Directions:

Freeze the inner chamber of your ice cream maker for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Add the coconut milk through sea salt to a Vitamix blender or other powerful blender. Start on Variable 1, go up to 10 quickly and then turn to High. Process for a minute. Follow your ice cream maker’s directions, for my Cuisinart ICE-30BC Pure Indulgence 2-Quart Automatic Frozen Yogurt, Sorbet, and Ice Cream Maker:

Add the frozen chamber, insert the paddle and put the lid on. Start the machine and slowly add in the mixture. Let run for about 20 minutes or until soft serve texture. Add in the pistachios and coconut while running, let continue to paddle for 5 minutes more.

Turn off and scoop into airtight containers, freeze until solid (2 to 3 hours). Although as soft serve it is very nice as well.

Makes 1 quart.

~Sarah

Trail Eats – No Cook Meals For The Trail

The latest recipes from our column, “Trail Eats” In Washington Trails Magazine (the March/April 2012 issue, page 40).

Three courses for those rainy & cold spring hikes! Do the work at home and eat gourmet while everyone else has a soggy PB&J!


Pistachio Couscous Salad

Ingredients:
2 cups lower sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 Tbsp diced dried onion
1½ cup couscous
15 ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

Dressing:
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey or agave nectar
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp dried basil

¼ cup shelled and diced pistachios

Directions:
Bring the broth and onion to a boil in a medium saucepan, add in the couscous. Take off the heat, cover tightly and let sit for 10 minutes. Fluff up the couscous with a fork into a large bowl, toss with the chickpeas.
Whisk the dressing in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Let chill overnight, stir in the nuts and then pack into lightweight sandwich containers (such as Glad or Ziploc brand ones) with tight-fitting lids.
Makes 2-3 large portions.

Notes:
If vegetable broth and agave are used this recipe is vegan friendly.

Hearty Spinach & Artichoke Wraps

Ingredients:
1 burrito size flour tortilla, per wrap (see notes)
1 Tbsp ranch dressing, per wrap
2 slices cheese, per wrap
3 slices deli meat, per wrap
14 ounce can water packed artichoke hearts, well-drained
¼ cup baby spinach leaves, per wrap

Directions:
At home -
Lay out a tortilla for each wrap. Brush on the dressing. Lay down the cheese, then the meat on top. Squeeze the artichoke hearts gently to remove all water, chop up two hearts per wrap and sprinkle on top. Lay the spinach on top, roll up each wrap tightly.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill. Carry to the trailhead in a cooler, insulated with ice packs.

Notes:
To carry safely on the trail build “ice packs” by putting ice cubes in quart freezer bags. When you get to lunch time your wraps will be safely chilled and you will have ice/ice water to add to your water bottle!
Look for the gourmet tortillas in fun flavors like Sun-Dried Tomato or as well ones sold as wraps in the bread section of the store. Water packed artichokes can be found inexpensively at Trader Joe’s, oil packed can be subbed, drain well.
We used Swiss cheese and smoked turkey on our wraps, use what you crave!

Chewy Granola Bars

Ingredients:
1½ cups Rice Krispies® or similar cereal
1½ cups quick cooking oats (1 Minute)
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, frozen
½ cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup pure maple syrup or honey
½ cup peanut butter (preferably natural)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Spray an 8×8″ glass baking dish with cooking spray.
Mix the cereal through chocolate chips in a large heat safe mixing bowl.
In a medium saucepan bring the sugar and syrup to a boil, take off the heat and add in the peanut butter and vanilla, stir till smooth.
Quickly add the hot syrup to the dry, mixing while pouring in, with a silicone spatula. Stir quickly till the cereal is coated and immediately dump into the prepared pan, pack down firmly with the spatula.
Let sit till cool and then slice into bars with a thin knife, wrap tightly for carrying.
How many? Depends on your size of bar!

Note:
Substitute any favorite nut or seed butter for the peanut butter and any small dried fruit for the raisins.

~Sarah

Dayhiking Glacier Basin

A long time ago (OK, not that long ago, just feels like it), back in the summer of 2003, Ford and I set off to hike Glacier Basin at Mt. Rainier National Park. He was nearly 5 at the time and we were spending our first summer living in King County, Wa hiking 3-4 days a week. We were following the snow line as it melted in the Cascade Mountains and around Mt. Rainier. Well on that trip I picked wrong and we hit snow about 2 miles in. It was the normal icy crud and I punched through up to my upper thigh and fell forward. Realizing I was lucky I hadn’t broken it I hobbled back down to the truck. Ended up with a pretty bad bruise on my thigh as a reward.

Us along Emmons Moraine that trip:

I meant to go back and finish the hike. I really did. But then summer came and there was so many other trails – really pretty trails, tons of alpine wanderings. Then the next couple years were all about hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail and then that one day in November of 2006 the trail simply ceased to exist after the torrential rains destroyed so much in the area. That favorite saying of hikers and climbers that “the mountains will be waiting” isn’t always true – 18″ of rain can change a lot. So when this past week it was announced that the new trail was complete and open – and my friend Lynn emailed me asking if I wanted to hike – well I knew it was time. Time to finish that trail! Kirk and I had taken Ford and Walker last summer and had checked out the first half of the new trail so I knew the new trail was going to be amazing. (It was built to a level rarely seen these days – a trail so smooth that you can walk without looking down!) Kirk said he would watch Ford and Walker for me, give me a free day out!

This is what I went for – to see an amazing basin:

The trail starts at the White River Campground. The parking lot shares with people picnicking, Wonderland Trail hikers, climbers (Glacier Basin is a major climbing route for the mountain) and hikers. It pays to be early and we were parking before 8 am. That was pretty early for this girl these days…woooh!

The trail takes off in the woods and stays in cool open forest for most of the first mile. The park has also repaired Emmons Moraine trail and built a new access trail to cross the Inter River – Lynn coming back from checking it out:

You get a lot of views of Rainier though, no lack of that! Lynn had never had not hiked the trail before and had thought we’d be in the deep woods most of the time. She was happily surprised. We came up to where the trail hooks around the Inter River, I could see where last year we had picked our way along the river bed to continue. The new trail was so much friendlier!

Me posing in front of the river and the top of Rainier (with the hook of Little Tahoma to the left):

It is getting harder to wear a pack right as the weeks go by, I had borrowed Ford’s current daypack as his doesn’t have a stiff hipbelt. I could wear the soft webbing belt under my stomach and still keep the pack stable! I don’t think anything can help the fashion crime of wearing purple horizontal stripes and all cotton though ;-) No way was I wearing synthetic tech clothing – that and I can’t wear any of my hiking pants currently – and my hiking shirts are all short. I’ll stick for the next few months with my “stylin'” wardrobe that fits.

As the trail starts climbing the views get amazing – you gotta stop and enjoy them!

The trail darts back into the bright forest and takes a hook and goes around the back side, losing all views. Here we encountered the only snow of the trip, a few patches of it. Nothing technical, nothing too scary. All easily walked over. The wildflowers were just appearing. Lots of Glacier Lilies and Avalanche Lilies! The last .7 of a mile of the trail was hard, it is steep. I was feeling every bit of my anemia as we hiked from 5600 feet to 5900 feet. It was to me the hardest 7 tenths I have ever hiked, the snow patches were not helping. Hike 50 feet, stop and breathe. The anemia makes it so it is harder for my blood to process oxygen as I go up in elevation. But I was not going to stop this close from the payoff! And then suddenly it levels out and you come to a junction – a trail heads on to a drop with this view:

Looking down we could see climbers and hikers below us, heading towards St. Elmo Pass:

We turned back a few feet and took the turn into the backcountry camp and walked through – this is the route once takes for the views!

There is even a pretty lake tucked in to the far right as you walk out into the start of the basin. (From certain angles you could see parts of The Burroughs ridge as well)

The basin itself was just simply amazing. And this is just a tiny bit of the view. A tiny bit of Rainier is visible, just a bump of white in the middle. The camp sits in a copse of trees and the “maintained trail” ends at the camp – but it goes on and on, through the meadows, down to the river and across it and then onwards for even more rambling. I was just fine with sitting in the shade, on the edge of the meadows. The bugs were not bad, there was a gentle breeze and it wasn’t hot either. I mean…how often do you get that kind of perfect weather in alpine? In August?

For lunch I made myself a no-cook couscous salad:

We took a long break which for me helped a lot, got my energy back up. After fending off the moochiest pest of a ground squirrel (to the point of throwing pebbles at it) we packed up and headed back down. The views I had missed on the way up were nice to take in – I could see across to the backside of Burroughs and see the trail that winds down from Burroughs 1, across the open slope. I could see Yakima Park as well (that is where Sunrise is). All green now, the snow finally is nearly gone!

As we dropped a bit more and came to the last meadow and we saw a happy bear doing its thing – munching on vegetation. OK,  it is that brown blob in the middle of the photo ;-) I go by the rule of sanity – if you see a bear take a photo from a distance and then carry on. No tempting fate!

The hike out went fast although we passed a lot of people (on the way up we saw only a handful of other hikers – most of which was the 3 climbers with the sweet boom box backpack with rocking tunes……) The Seattle thing that is – get up and have breakfast, look outside and decide to go hiking. Get to the park on 2 pm…..no thanks. Those 8 am starts are so much nicer – and quiet!

The trail is about 7.49 miles total, with our side rambles and the walk to the parking lot and around 1600 feet gain. No scary water crossings either – every creek crossing is bridged!

~Sarah

Morning In The Snow and A Picnic Along The River

Originally our plan had been to go dayhiking yesterday morning. It was socked in down below but with promise it would burn off (thanks to this very detailed forecast of the Mt. Rainier area I can usually peg good days easily!) By the time we got up to Chinook Pass the sky was blue and it was oohhh…..53°! We did leave early though!

Anyhow long story short I decided to trust the Seattle Times article on “5 snow free hikes!” that came out on Thursday. My gut kept saying “it isn’t melted out” but the author claimed it was – and I have met the author a couple of times and respect her. Well…it was like “mostly” melted out. The problem being is that at the trailhead still a solid wall of snow and to get up on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) you have to climb up the snow bank. Normally I don’t have qualms doing that – many times I have done this same hike and we climbed up. Well….not so easy when you have a baby on your back. It just isn’t worth it to take the risk. So I bagged the hike idea. I did find out later that the last ½ mile of the trail to the pretty subalpine lake was still under snow as well. So I felt a lot better for deciding against hiking it! I would have had to probably turn back. Sadly enough my risk taking goes into the basement when I have Walker on my back. I don’t like crossing snow, sketchy moss-covered logs, fording creeks, etc.

So sitting there at Chinook Pass, staring back at the western side of the state, covered in still heavy snow and thinking “It is July 29th!!!!” I headed back down the mountains a bit. We stopped a bit down above Tipsoo Lake and took some photos. It was pretty out and you can’t pass that up!

Looking across at Mt. Rainier:

Considering about 2 weeks had passed there had been “some” snow melt since I had been last up there, but not much. The lakes are still not broken up. The “stream” across the lake is a tiny bit wider and the snow not as deep. But not breaking up!

Rainier through a couple well bent trees:

Walker and I (Ford is getting so much better at taking photos now!)

Afterwards we drove down to the White River area of Mt. Rainier NP and had a picnic of sorts along the river. The river was running overall slow. In the summer of 2004 when I did a partial thru-hike of the Wonderland Trail my memory of the White River was it rushing wildly, chocolate-brown in color and that all you could hear was massive boulders grinding together. It was a very peaceful lunchtime though. The air smelled so good and the first wildflowers were open. It was so nice!

I took the day for what it was and we still had a nice day, me and the kids!

~Sarah

A Morning In The Mountains

Yesterday was a gorgeous day, so pretty I knew we had to go for a drive. Being that it was the 4th of July was a bonus. Kirk had the day off from work and the traffic was light as we drove up to Mt. Rainier. It was early when we left – if you want a better experience with Rainier you start as early as you can to avoid crowds. It still hasn’t “warmed” up at Rainier or in the Cascade Mountains yet. It was the typical 45° and sunny out early in the morning:

We had planned to do a hike with Walker down low but then changed our minds on the drive and went up to Sunrise instead since it had opened on Friday. And that it was so nice it seemed like a waste to be in the woods when we could be up so high!

The view from Sunrise Point is always worth stopping at. Mt. Adams in the distance was gorgeous, although this isn’t the best place to get a good photo (alas, a bit down the road it floats large in the sky and there is no pull out).

Walker photobombing me:

Look at Rainier, Little Tahoma and the ridges:

Looking across the other way I could see as far as Mt. Baker clearly. No smog, nothing. The sky was so clear being early summer. I could see every peak from Stuart to Glacier on so on. But up close I could also see that it will be awhile before I will be strolling up to Dege Peak! (Dege is the one on the left and when the snow is gone is an easy dayhike to the top)

Not visible but Baker was in the far distance. Up close is Brown and other peaks on the ridge, down below Sunrise Lake and the string of lakes out to the Palisades are still quite frozen over.

We finished our drive up to Sunrise and Walekr had so much fun playing in the snow (with was 8-9 feet still deep)

Walker had not really played with snow before, he was too young last year and it didn’t snow much down here last winter.

I was feeling very mellow. The hiking potential was pretty low up there and Walker was having fun. It was plenty for me and we just had fun!

With Sourdough Ridge behind him:

Rainier and Little Tahoma:

Rainier, Little Tahoma and Goat Island and more:

On the way down we had to wait while the park worked to get the road back open, a slump/slide had occurred on one of the always unstable slopes on a curve.

The parkies cut the tree in half and removed it with help from other motorists and then allowed everyone to drive on the shoulder to get around temporarily. The slump wasn’t shocking, the snow on the hillside was melting. At least it didn’t appear to have hit anyone’s car!

Sitting and waiting and look at a small example of columnar basalt, although a few yards down the road is an amazing section…but again no way to stop to photograph it.

Had a nice drive home and it was just a mellow day!

~Sarah

Waterfall Hiking

 

 

Kirk and I took Ford and Walker on the Silver Falls Loop Trail at Mt. Rainier NP this morning. It has become a yearly occasion to hike it in May or June, early on. The trail sits lower in elevation (low 2,000’s) so once the lower mountain pass is open we can drive there. The drive up was easy, we went early in the morning. The amount of snow at the pass is deep – the higher pass, Chinook Pass, is still not open yet due to that. It is going to be a late melting summer meaning it will be awhile before the alpine hikes open up. Ah well. The lowland hikes make me happy enough!

When we got to the trailhead there was only 2 cars. It isn’t a big parking area and a couple minutes later a mass of vehicles showed, a large group (by large it was LARGE) and many had one person in the car. Jeez……we got ready fast to get ahead and got on the trail.

Every time I do the loop I see most people on the hot spring/falls side and few, if any, on the other side. So we usually hike counter clockwise to enjoy the silence on the way back.

Me on the bridge over Laughingwater Creek, Ford in the background:

A closeup, I was testing out a sun cover for Walker’s backpack:

Silver Falls:

Ford and I (with Walker on my back):

Me…it was so bright the falls got blown out in the photo:

The falls and the river were running heavy and fast:

Looking downstream:

On the trail back. It was quiet and we only passed 4 people.

The river below us:

~Sarah

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