June 17th, 2013
Another year has passed. Since last year I’ve grown a little bit wiser, a lot happier, and noticeably grayer of fur (but let’s not talk about that).
As I’ve done the last four years, I celebrated my birthday on Iron Peak. For a while, it looked like it might not happen this year; I felt sick all day Friday and we had to turn around and go home that night when an overturned semi closed Snoqualmie Pass for three hours.
I woke up feeling better, if not well, on Saturday, and we caravaned to the Teanaway with Scott, Dani, and a ridiculous amount of dogs.
There was much less snow on Iron Peak than usual! I don’t think we’re actually having an early melt, though, it’s just that the snowpack has been so insane the last couple of years that we’ve become used to finding snowbound trails long into August. Either way, I’m happy. This, I think, will be the summer.
We enjoyed brews on the summit (except for Scott, who had enjoyed a few too many the night before), played with our six dogs, and traded war stories of past trips. Scott pointed out the route he climbed up Mount Stuart, and I resolved to never, ever do anything of the sort.
Did you know that there’s a trail up the ridge to Iron? We didn’t, since it’s been hidden under snow on all our previous ascents. I still managed to find a couple of good snow patches to glissade on the way down, though.
We made our way back down to the cars, said goodbye to Scott, Dani, and their pack of dogs, then set off to find a place to camp. Instant success – our favorite campsite was free!
– Iron Peak | 7.5 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain –
We stayed in this exact site in 2010, and it’s simply perfect. It’s hidden from the road, so it offers full privacy, no need to leash the dogs, you have your own babbling brook, a separate cooking area, and a pretty field of shooting stars.
One of my favorite things about the Teanaway – and the Eastern Cascades in general – is the sweet smell of the vanilla-scented ponderosa pines, nature’s Wunderbaum. My nose hadn’t fully clogged up yet, so I spent a lot of time just leaning back and inhaling. Aaaahh.
I woke up on Sunday morning, my actual birthday, with a full-blown cold. It quickly became apparent that there wouldn’t be any hiking that day, so instead we spent our time reading in the sun, drinking coffee, and eating birthday cupcakes (courtesy of Andreas, who has perfected a gluten-free version of my favorite vanilla cupcakes).
I told JK it was my favorite birthday yet, and it really was. I think 31 will be a very good year.
Oh, and we stopped at the Pass and walked the dogs around Gold Creek Pond on the way home, so we kinda sorta hiked after all.
– Gold Creek Pond | 1? mile | just about 0 feet elevation gain –
June 17th, 2013
I spent most of the last week sick and pathetic on the couch, but instead of using that time to get caught up on my own blog, I got lost in the world of PCT blogs.
I’ve been a Pacific Crest Trail fangirl ever since JK gave me A Blistered Kind of Love for Christmas back in 2007. I doubt I’ll ever hike the entire trail myself (I would miss JK too much!), but there are several sections of it that are on my bucket list. In the meantime, I’m living vicariously through some of this year’s thru-hikers who are journaling their way from Mexico to Canada.
- First up, my favorite – Carrot Quinn is an incredibly gifted writer (check out her fascinating memoir about freighthopping) whose words truly convey the ups and downs of life on the trail: Carrot Quinn
- It’s a given that I would like this girl since she not only carries a Mukmuk mascot on her pack like I do, but her trail name is Muk Muk!! Excellent photos, too: Mexico to Canada 2013
- I can’t get over how high-tech some of these thru-hikers are. UB is hiking with a video camera and an iPad so he can edit and post videos along the way: UBSeRiOuS
Have any other PCT favorites? Please share!
June 14th, 2013
Taking advantage of our continued bout of excellent weather, I took Wellie and Basil for a run on Cougar Mountain last Thursday. Cougar is a confusing maze of wooded trails, but I’ve spent enough time there this spring (running after WTA work parties) that I can finally make my way around the mountain without having to pull out my map at every trail junction.
I was aiming for 10 miles or so, but, even in the heat, I was enjoying myself so much that I ended up with 15 miles, covering all my favorite trails on the mountain. I know being self-deprecating is kind of my thing, but this time I have to be honest and say that I was downright proud of myself.
– Cougar Mountain Loop | 15 miles | 2600 feet elevation gain –
This is promising, since my goal for this summer is to run through the Enchantments. I’ve given up on the backpacking permit lottery for the time being, so going from the Colchuck trailhead to the Snow Lake trailhead in one day is the way to go. As always, I use the term “run” loosely – I hike the uphills and do my shuffle-jog on the flats and downhills. We will be snailing through the core Enchantments, taking photos and enjoying ourselves.
I’m sure I’ll get so sweaty and salty that the mountain goats will lick me clean before I have time to jump in a lake!
My main challenges will be getting my legs and lungs ready to hike up Aasgard Pass, which gains 2200 feet in something like 0.8 miles, without bonking (but yay, I’ll have a small pack this time!)…
…getting my feet ready for the mileage – 17-20, depending on side trips – and for running the last hot, dusty, boring six miles down to the Snow Lake trailhead when I’m already tired…
…but mostly getting my head ready, ’cause that’s usually where I fail when it comes to challenging myself – I’ll actually have to believe in myself for once. This run on Cougar was a mighty fine start.
My previous Enchantments trips, four days each: 2008 and 2010.
June 12th, 2013
The passing hiker’s eyes grew wide as she noticed the obese, unwieldy, antlered stuffed animal draped across JK’s back.
“Uhm,” she started, trying to find a polite way to learn what the hell was going on. “Dare I ask?”
“Oh, you know,” said JK. “I’m just training for the Amooseing Race.”
Thus began a night of strange looks and really bad moose puns.
The gigantic moose isn’t ours, he just showed up at our house while we were in Europe. This is what happens when you give friends the key to your house.
I joked that JK should start carrying Karl-Heinz* on hikes like I carry my mascot, Mukmuk, and then suddenly it turned into something he had to do.
So that’s how we found ourselves on Poo Poo Point, propping that portly thing up to pose for the classic Norwegian motif, Moose in Sunset. It was a silly, excellent way to spend a beautiful early summer’s eve. Also – according to JK – it would be a great way to pick up chicks – single males, take note!
My favorite part of the night was when our friend’s fetch-obsessed dog, Ada, dropped her stick at Karl-Heinz’s feet and patiently waited for him to throw it.
I was quite amoosed.
– Poo Poo Point | 3.5 miles | 1750 feet elevation gain –
*That’s right, he has a name. And a facebook page.
June 4th, 2013
Let’s start with a bit of blog maintenance: first of all, I have no idea why my RSS thing keeps pulling up really old (like ’07 old) posts – sorry if you’re seeing outdated posts in your feed reader! Also, I miss posting more regularly…so I’m going to try to do that. Oh, and I’m a member spotlight over on tmber.com, a very cool Pacific Northwest hiking site, so if you wandered over here from there, welcome, and if you haven’t heard of TMBER before, go check it out.
After spending Saturday running errands and working in the garden, JK and I drove up the Mountain Loop Highway on Sunday to run (what I could of) the Elliot Creek Trail to Goat Lake.
The lower trail is beautiful, and, from what I gather, less crowded than the upper trail. We ran alongside the creek through a lush forest, admiring the greeness of it all. We hardly met anyone on the hike in, so Wellie and Basil got to run off leash, usually staying ahead with JK, the honorary greyhound.
Eventually we hooked up with the upper trail, an old logging road turned alder allée, before entering the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness and finally gaining some real elevation up to the lake. I wasn’t able to run those switchbacks, so I had lots of time to gawk at the huge cedars that lined the trail. The last time we hiked this trail, I felt just about ready to defect and leave Washington for good, but now I am massively in love with this state and our life here. I guess that’s what happens when you try to blame your depression on your location, foolishly thinking you would magically be happier somewhere, anywhere, else.
While the clouds have thankfully cleared in my head, they had yet to lift over Goat Lake, hiding the mountaintops and nixing the idea of swimming. We didn’t care; we were so high on endorphins that any view would do.
We split a sandwich and ran back down the trail, this time dodging big groups of hikers. This is a very popular hike, so come early. Luckily the two trails help disperse the masses, and once we hit the lower trail, we were pretty much alone again – not that anything could have ruined my runner’s high anyway.
– Goat Lake | 10 miles | 1400 feet gain –
We had packed a cooler full of watermelon to enjoy back at the car, but since the sun never really came out to dehydrate us, we drove over to the Big Four picnic area to eat it there instead – with a side of excellent views.
To round out a perfect Mountain Loop day, we stopped at our favorite farm stand outside of Granite Falls to pick up produce to barbecue in the afternoon. I think summer has arrived and I know I love it.