Final score: Blanca Lake Trail-1 Kristi-0

This really is a bucket list trail. Every time I see someone post a trail review of this milky green lake I just want to go! I tried to do this hike in the summer but I never got around to it. Recently I saw a couple photos of the lake with some snow around the edges and they looked pretty spectacular. I’m a sucker for a great photo! Decision made! Hike Blanca Lake before all the snow arrives!

Friday the weather report looked really good. Clear skies with a chance of rain or snow after 4. That would work out perfectly as we would be back to the truck by then! With snow around it is important to pack for a variety of weather conditions so extra clothes and what felt like four days of food. Better to be over prepared!ūüė≥

My friend, Todd, and I headed out a 7 am. We parked and started the extra 2 mike trek at 8:45. We were the only car at the gate. The road is closed due to three large washouts on the road leading to the trailhead. It looks like a major repair project so I’m not sure when or if it will be fixed. We arrived at the trailhead around 9:15 and set out on our journey.

The trail starts in the forest where there was no snow. This was nice because I was looking forward to seeing our trail work from our WTA work party a group of Happy Hikers did in September. The drainage ditch constructed was doing its job perfectly! A new set of log stairs made for a easy step up! A short rock path covered a muddy section of the trail. Dang we did good trail work!ūüėĀ. Shortly after bragging about our awesome tail work the trail conditions changed to 2-4 inches of slushy ice. It was a bit slippery so microspikes came in handy! We hiked in these conditions mixed with short sections of 4-6 inches of powder for about a mile. This trail has a lot of switchbacks. We could start to see the blue sky over the ridge line so that pushed us to keep going through all the switchbacks. At many points it truly felt like all we were doing was walking back and forth across the hillside but going nowhere. Them we’d get another glimpse of the blue sky and would gain motivation again, only to see it disappear after a switchback. As we gained elevation the slush turned to pure powder. Starting at about six inches deep and quickly gained to twelve to eighteen inches deep. Since we were the first on the trail we were blazing the trail. You could see the trail for the most part because the trail was lined with powder about two to two and a half feet of snow! The deep snow made the work effort much greater than normal. The trail was really narrow in places so snowshoes were not helpful. After about three hours of hiking and still not having the ridgeline in sight I was beginning to wonder if we would ever see it. My legs were so tired.

We finally found the first section of the ridge line but quickly lost the trial. We had to scramble up a rock face that was covered in snow and fairly slick. Additional workout for the legs! Once we got across the ridge we entered the start of what is probably a meadow in the summer. It was filled with small trees and thigh deep powder!‚ĚĄÔłŹ‚ĚĄÔłŹ

You could see which way the wind blows because all the trees had snow blown up one side pushing the top of the tree over so they looked like mini cornices. If the trees were bright colors and covered in Christmas decorations I would have expected to see Cindy Lou Who and The Grinch because we definitely were in Doctor Suess’ Whoville!! So pretty! We should have started singing “Fah who for-aze! Dah who dor-aze! Welcome Christmas! Come this way!”

At this point we had been hiking for 5 hours and we still we not at the lake. ūüė©. We could see down in the valley the edge of Virgin Lake. It looked frozen. We could see the remnants of what we think was the trail headed down into the valley. It is a steep decline into the valley. The trail had not been walked on since the snow so it was about 2 feet deep. We could see a dark cloud looming nearby and we figured it would be at least 2 hours of hiking( .8 miles each way) to get down to Blanca Lake and back up the hill. That would have made it about 3:30 before we got back to the ridge which would have meant a few hours of hiking in the dark with snow or rain. That didn’t sound appealing so for safety we decided to turn back.

Getting down was still work but easier as the trail was pack down by us and a couple other groups we saw. I saw the snow drift clinging to a log and it looked just like a dragon! Couldn’t help but take a picture. It was a perfect shot for my #devynrocks photo. I always take this love rock on my hikes to honor a family who lost their son this summer. He loved to hike so I take him hiking with me!‚̧ԳŹ

Once we got out of the powder the slush and ice became pretty slippery. Harder on the knees and hips coming back down. It only took us 2.5 hours to get back to the road. We walked out with another group who turned around at the same place we did. At this point we were tired. Our feet hurt and we were tired of walking. This made the trek on the road seem much longer than it was. The gate was never in sight, ever! We entered the mental battle of physical exhaustion! We finally made it back to the truck. Drank some chocolate recovery milk! Delicious! And finally sat down!!!!! YAY!!!

My activity app says we took roughly 30,000 steps. In hiking calories this would be around 3,000 calories. Let’s just say today I’m starving!

We may not have made it to the lake so that means it stays on the bucket list for next summer!

Blanca Lake Trail I want a rematch. Next summer! Game on!

Alpine Wilderness is always a WOW moment!

I’ve completed a few hikes in the Alpine Wilderness and I always seem to be saying WOW, or beautiful, gorgeous, and the list goes on.  Lake Ingalls did not disappoint!  I’ve had a couple goals this year. One was to see goats and the other was to see a bear, but from a safe distance!  I definitely checked off one of these goals!

We’ve had some kinda crazy weather here in Washington recently plus some devastating forest fires. For a time Lake Ingalls was closed due to the Teanaway fire. It opened last week and Sunday’s forecast called for sun and 50 degrees which sounded perfect!

Four of us headed for the trail. We were a group blend of PNW outdoor women and PNW happy hikers. We all share a love of the outdoors!  Along the road to the trailhead we could see hillsides of burned trees, along with some sparesd houses. The little houses were the only things to survive. Amazing how they were surrounded by char but appeared to be unscathed. We even saw some smoldering sections and wildland firefighters doing some control burns. Amazing people!!

The temperature was a bit brisk when we arrived but the trail starts steadily uphill right from the get go so we were warmed up in a few minutes. The trail had a little bit of everything. A little mud, a little snow, a little slush and quite a bit of rocks. Let’s not forget lots of fantastic views!!  So much to look at along the way. We even had several spots to view Mt Rainier which also amazing!  It always surprises me all the different locations where you can see Mt Rainier. Such a beauty!

It appears the trail gains about 2,500 feet up to the pass. It is steady with lots of switchbacks. This is a very popular trail so there was a steady stream of people headed up and quite a few backpackers on their way out.  Everyone told us they saw goats so I was pretty excited to get to the top!  It’s a workout hike!  Took us about 3 hours to get to the pass. There were 4 goats just hanging out. One walking down the trail towards us. I’m pretty sure I acted like a kid in a candy store!  They are so darn cute!  You just want to hug them, except for those horns. They really didn’t seem to be bothered by the hikers. They just went out their own business.

At the top was the first time we got to see larches. They are quite the sight especially contrasted by the deep blue sky!!  So pretty!  Seeing a whole meadow of them either the snow and blue sky was definitely a WOW moment!!

I have to admit I honestly had no idea what they were beyond bright yellow color. Come to find out they are a deciduous conifer. They have soft needles that turn yellow in the fall before dropping them come back in the spring as green needles.  Learn something new everyday!

From the top you can see the trail around the meadow that heads to Lake Ingalls. It is about an hour hike so we headed to the lake. Most of the trail is flat except for the last 500 feet uphill. The last bit is a scramble up  rock to the lake. Luckily the snow had melted so we could see the whole hill. I would imagine in snow this would be very difficult to climb safely.

The lake looks like most of the Alpine Lakes. Deep blue water surrounded by jaded mountains!  They are just breathtaking.  We grabbed a quick lunch and decided to head back as the wind was starting to pick up.  Only took about 2.5 hours to get down. Tired feet and we were starving!  Mama Vallone’s restaurant in Cle Elum hit the spot!

This is a great hike. The scenery is amazing and did not disappoint!  I would imagine in the summer this is a popular spot for backpacking.

Another fun adventure!  Great meeting some new hikers.

Happy trails!

Hello Fall. This is Winter calling. I‚Äôm coming home early this year!

I‚Äôve hiked to one Lookout before and that was pretty cool so I‚Äôve been looking for a few more. Tolmie Peak Lookout in Mt Rainier National Park fit the bill!  The weather was looking a bit sketchy so I packed some warmer clothes just in case. Boy was I glad I did!

We arrived at the trail at 9 and it was snowing!!  October 1. Fall has just started and it‚Äôs snowing!! Maybe we are going to have another snowy winter!  It looked like it had snowed a couple inches overnight already. I saw a couple people loading up their car from the campground. Yep that would mean tent sleeping!  I asked how the night went and all they could say was ‚Äúchilly‚ÄĚ. I bet!  I‚Äôm a fair weather camper so no thanks!

We started at Mowich Lake which is a really dark blue. The trail goes along the edge of the lake before heading into the forest. We ran into Ryan on the trail just before the forest. This is a really nice trail. It weaves through the forest on some rolling hills but no real steep parts. You come out on a crest line and can see down to the Wonderland Trail.  That was a pretty nice view into the valley!  I have to admit I was hoping to see a bear down there but didn‚Äôt!  I really want to see goats and bears. At a safe distance that is!  We did see a couple deer up close but that was all. 

At one point you emerge from the forest at Eunice Lake. It looked kinda black today with all the cloud cover. It made some of the pictures look black and white.  We walked down to the lakeside and it was a bit slushy so of course I fell!  Luckily the snow was a nice landing. 

From the lake you could barely see the Lookout up on the Ridge. The clouds were low and fairly thick. We weren‚Äôt anticipating seeing much from the Lookout but we headed up the hill anyways. I was surprised at how quickly we made it up the hill. I was a steady climb but pretty easy. Just as we came out of the tree line a huge blue patch of sky appeared. We were able to see all the way across the valley. The snow covered tress looked like a winter wonderland with the sun shining down. It was pretty cool. We walked up to the Lookout and could see this Ridge not far away. It was encased in clouds and looked like a harsh winter environment, like Everest!!  

The birds were flying around. Someone had made a snowman by the Lookout. I took my love rock with me(that I carry on all my hikes). It honors a family who lost their son this past summer. He liked to hike so I take the rock with me on all my adventures so he can keep hiking and I photograph it for the family!  This hike I added my heart rock to the snowman at the Lookout for a photo. I packed it back out for the next adventure!

We waited for about 45 minutes at the Lookout but were only able to see a Peak a boo view of Mt Rainier. I didn‚Äôt realize how close it was.  I love hiking in the snow. It is so peaceful. So quiet. Everything is so clean and fresh. The snow resting on tree limbs. Just allows you to clear your mind and just be present in the moment. Just you and nature. ‚̧ԳŹ

You can rent the Lookout and stay overnight. Totally adding that to the bucket list!!  That would be some incredible photos for sunset and sunrise!! Someone put a funny sign up at the ‚Äúhot tub rules‚ÄĚ. It caught everyone‚Äôs attention and you heard everyone, including us, say ‚Äúthere‚Äôs a hot tub up here‚ÄĚ?  So funny!!
This one goes on the list for next summer!  A nice summer day with clear blue skies!  Mt Rainier in all her glory. 

Another excuse to stop at Pick and Shovel tavern in Wilkeson!  So good!  Best handmade onion rings ever!  The black and blue burger was pretty awesome too!  Well and the beer!

Happy trails!

Beckler Peak in Skykomish 

There are a few gems out Highway 2 around Skykomish. I‚Äôm pretty sure I saw a WTA trip report that showed some pretty spectacular 350 views from the top. I kind of have a rule about choosing hikes. I love the outdoors so really anytime outside is my idea of a good time but when it comes to hiking I want a reward. That can be an amazing waterfall, spectacular views, colorful flowers or leaves or wildlife!  Over the summer I became addicted to Alpine Lakes. The water color is just something you won‚Äôt forget. 

However now Fall has arrived and I do love maple leaves that are turning yellow, orange and red!  The colors can overtake a hillside and make it look like a painting. 

Todd and I headed out to the trail. I missed the trail sign along the highway so we had a make a short turn around. Oops!  

We were the second car in the lot and in typical Seattle fashion it was raining!  In Washington you have to be okay with hiking in the rain because they is about 8 months of our year. It‚Äôs not hard rain so really it‚Äôs not a big deal. 

This trail meanders through the forest for pretty much the entire trail. There are a couple spots where you get a clearing and can see across the valley. Well you could see across the valley if the ceiling wasn‚Äôt so low!  We were only able to get spectacular views of clouds!  We did get to see some nice Fall colors though!  A few scattered maples were very colorful and stood out next to the lush green of the firs. We saw the remnants of an old forest fire. Charred remains with ground cover that had already regenerated. The power of nature!

The top has some nice stairs that I bet a WTA work crew made!  You can stand on top of a huge granite rock and bet that view is amazing!  Again we just saw clouds but we also had a snow shower!

This is definitely a hike hat is worth coming back when the skies are blue!  I want to see the view!!

Edmonds Waterfront for some photography adventures

My daughter’s soccer team had kind of a rough outing Saturday morning so I decided to get some fresh air and walk along the Edmonds Waterfront. ¬†Although it was a beautiful day, we had some pretty thick smoke from the Cle Elum wildfires coating the air. ¬†You can not only smell the burning wood, but it is irritating on your eyes and throat. ¬†What should have been a pretty spectacular sunset was altered, noticeably, by all the smoke. ¬†The sky was orange and kind of red, which transferred to the water, making it look like a polaroid photo. ¬†It was interesting. ¬†Really the highlight was this new photography toy I bought! ¬†It’s pretty exciting!! ¬†This one is a 3″ crystal ball. ¬†Although it does not tell the future, it does alter the landscaping for some pretty cool photos. ¬†I haven’t played around with it much, so I packed it in my backpack and headed for the waterfront.

Edmonds has kind of a unique waterfront. ¬†Lots of restaurants, parks and the ferry dock. There were a few people out scuba diving in the area in dry suits. ¬†Didn’t see them bring anything out, but not sure if it was just a class. ¬†Lots of kids playing in the water, which I’m sure is a bit chilly right now! ¬†I walked down the boardwalk and ran into about 10 people all huddled together tapping and swiping their phones. ¬†Yep, playing Pokemon Go! ¬†A little further down the walk was another group, mostly older individuals and that all had big binoculars and scopes. ¬†Hoping they were watching a pod of orcas off the shore I started looking at the water, but didn’t see anything. ¬†So I asked what they were looking at and it was just birds. ¬†Apparently this weekend was a bird festival in Edmonds. ¬†Not my idea of fun so I headed out on the fishing pier, which was packed. ¬†Lots of people fishing and several people with crab pots, which I’m pretty sure is closed. ¬†Saw a guy catch what looked like some type of cod and a heron finding lunch in the swallow water off the rocks.
I planned on walking through the marina for some sunset photos but all the dock gates are locked so I just kept walking. ¬†I didn’t realize there was a big beach and park at the end! ¬†Learned something new. ¬†I decided to try out the glass sphere on the beach. ¬†The box comes with a big warning sheet telling you not to hold it up directly to the sun and that is acts like a huge magnifying glass so be careful about where you use it so you don’t start a fire! ¬†Great!

It was fun placing it in the sand and water just to see what different effects would show up. ¬†Still not exactly sure how to hold it and take a photo. ¬†I think it might try the 6″ sphere too as it will show a lot more scenery within the glass. ¬†After a little bit of playing around with it, I like it! ¬†You can come up with some pretty cool and interesting shots with it. ¬†It’s a little heavy to carry in my backpack though for hiking as it is solid glass. ¬†Maybe……We shall see!

My new favorite hike–Chain Lakes Loop

On paper this looked like a pretty nice hike. It is unique in that it is a loop hike and not the usual out and back hike.  On a loop hike the scenery is always new, no repeat!  In person this hike is so much more!  Such variety is landscape, early peak-a-boo looks at Mt Baker, lots of talus, wildflowers, butterflies, lakes and finally a full view of Mt Baker. WOW!!

We started the hike at Austin Pass/Heather Meadows and went counter-clockwise. The trail headed down into a valley where the trail passes a small creek and a lake. The lake is deep blue, with the edges tinted in aqua green and copper colors. Massive spires surround the valley. The valley floor is a fairly short hike because you start zigzagging up the hill. There is zero shade on this climb and we chose an over 80 degree day so it was pretty hot and dusty!  Periodic water stops would give us the opportunity to get some views of either Mt Baker or Mt Shuskan which would give you a little burst of energy. The trail is surrounded by wild blueberries and huckleberries. Whitney loves wild huckleberries!  We could always tell when she found some good ones and it was quickly followed by “yum,yum, yum”. 

We stopped for a few minutes at the top of the hill as we needed the break and we got our first full view of Mt Baker and a couple huge lakes!  They looked like a good spot to stop for lunch!  There was a bit of snow at the top which was nice to cool off the hands with. We ran into quick a few backpackers who were headed out for a few days. I have a admit this looks like a pretty amazing place to camp!

I stopped part way down where I found a great clearing of Mt Baker. I packed one of my #DevynRocks rocks and took a couple pictures. This is in honor of a family who lost their son recently. He loved adventures so I take a rock with me on my hikes. I follow the hiking rule of leave no trace so I pack the rock, in and out, on all my hiking adventures. I hope he enjoyed the view!

We headed down the other side of the climb and this took us right down to the lake. The trail goes between two large lakes with a few campsites up on the hill. We found a nice spot to stop for lunch that was right on the lake and in a meadow of wildflowers. It felt so good to sit down for a few, refuel and put our feet in the chilly lake!  A small group came down with a black lab and he went straight into the lake!  Swimming around and chasing the bubbles he created by slapping on the water. It was so funny!!

After about an hour we headed back on the trail through the meadow before climbing up the hill to Artists Point. It was a steady climb but manageable. At the top the trail intersects with the Ptarmigan trail that continues along the ridge line.  We traversed along the hillside and arrived at Artist Point. Holy cow was the lot full!!  We started our hike at 9:30 which is normal hiking terms is late however on the trail it seemed to be quite early!!

The trail from Artist Point down to Austin Pass/Heather Meadows was steep and I mean steep!!  It was stairs and trail full of loose rocks. I’m glad it was at the end of the hike as it was hard on the knees.  

Overall this is one of my favorite hikes!!  It’s steady but totally manageable. The scenery is spectacular!  I bet in the late spring this is a beautiful hike in the snow! Another great hike!  Thanks for the company Tami and Whitney!

To the mountains we go…We find hard work, adventure, laughter and memories

I’ve taken my youngest daughter, who is 13, on a few hikes with me. ¬†I love the outdoors and so does she. ¬†She plays soccer so I know she is in good shape and can handle, with much more ease than I, any of the hikes I have been on. ¬†I’ve not taken her on any real strenuous ones because I don’t want to fade her love of the outdoors, but she has been asking me to take her on a hike to an alpine lake. ¬†She shows me a photo of me in a hammock at Colchuck Lake and says “like this one”. ¬†Off to gathering research I go!

I find a hike to Snow Lake, which is located at Snoqualmie Pass in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. ¬†It’s an 8 mile roundtrip hike with a little less than 2,000 foot elevation climb. ¬†I show her some pictures and she says lets go! ¬†Of course that means bringing her BFF as well. ¬†They both want to swim in the lake! ¬†I let them know the like is just snow runoff so it is pretty chilly. ¬†At 13 they don’t seem to worry about that. ¬†For me, it probably would cause me to stop breathing so I’ll just watch from the shore.

We arrive at the trailhead at 10:30 and the parking lot is full. ¬†This is a very popular hike and boy they weren’t kidding! ¬†Lots of families and dogs on the trail, which is fairly narrow in sections as you climb through rock talus. ¬†A little hard on the ankles as the rocks moves as you step on them. ¬†It was about 80 degrees when we started so I’m glad I packed extra water as there is little shade on this trail. ¬†I love that people love the outdoors and want to experience all the beauty the State of Washington has to offer, but these crowded trails really drive in the importance of trail etiquette. ¬†Not because it just makes people grumpy when hikers don’t know or follow trail etiquette, but more importantly it is a safety issue on narrow trails on steep inclines!

The trails winds across the mountain with several switchbacks through the forest and across rock talus.  At several of the clearings you can really see how far up you have climbed.  That made the kids feel good about how high they were climbing.  I could tell they were getting a little discouraged towards the top as they were really hot and the climb was longer than they were expecting.  Two nice men stopped at a corner and provided them some encouragement that they only had one switchback left and would be at the top in just a couple minutes.  This gave them the spark they needed to charge up to the top, dragging me behind.  We ran into Tami and her family at the top.

At the top you get your first view of snow lake. ¬†It is a large lake that is deep blue. ¬†Much darker than Colchuck. ¬†It is nestled in between the mountain ridge lines. ¬†From the top, you have to climb down 400 feet to the lake. ¬†Once the kids saw the lake they made a mad dash for the trail down to the lake. ¬†We found an old rock structure near the lake. ¬†It must be the remnants of an old house or something. ¬†The lake is quite rocky, so it is a bit hard on the feet. ¬†The kids quickly changed and headed to the water. ¬†I’m guessing it took about 10 minutes for them to actually swim. ¬†The 10 minutes was getting use to how cold the water was. ¬†Definitely more chilly than they expected. ¬†Nadine lost her balance and fell in, then Kylie decided to just dunk herself. ¬†Nolan decided to give it a try too. ¬†I bet they swam for a good 15 minutes. ¬†Oh to be young! ¬†Great way to cool off after a hot, sweaty and dusty hike. ¬†I chose the more subtle approach and just soaked my feet and ankles in the water. ¬†That was enough for me! ¬†It sure felt good though! ¬†We ate some lunch and then decided we better head out.

I have to admit I was dreading the hike out of the canyon from the lake up to the trail, but I was pleasantly surprised. ¬†It actually was harder going down then coming up! ¬†Bonus!! ¬†The hike out was good, but very busy. ¬†Lots of hikers coming up. ¬†We passed a few dogs in the trail that were just laying down and wouldn’t go any further. ¬†Too hot for dogs and people don’t bring enough water!! ¬†I’ve even decided I’m to carry a cooler in the back of my truck with extra water, electrolyte drinks and chocolate milk. ¬†My buddy Todd did this on the Colchuck hike and boy did that cold chocolate milk taste good after a long hike!

It took us about 80 minutes to hike up to Snow Lake and 60 minutes to hike out.  Kylie said mom that was a lot of work for a quick swim in the lake but it was a good workout.  Now I think I need to let her try out a backpacking trip!

It’s important to spend time with your kids. ¬†They grow up so fast! ¬†It just seems like yesterday they were starting elementary school, but now they are a junior in high school and starting 8th grade.

Memory making is so important.  Adventures they will carry with them for a lifetime and maybe even pass on to their kids.

What does serenity and perfection look like? It’s Colchuck Lake!

When I first saw a photograph of this lake, I just couldn’t stop looking at it. ¬†The aqua green water surrounded by rocky mountains. ¬†It just drew me in and was calling my name. ¬†I read a couple reviews on it and someone said when you first see the lake it is like a religious experience. ¬†I’m not religious, so I decided that must be what nirvana looks like. ¬†The hike is about 9 miles roundtrip and 2300 feet elevation. ¬†I figured I’ve drug myself up Mailbox Peak before and this is half the elevation so I would be good. ¬†I was finally able to link up with my buddy Todd who also loves hiking and we headed out on an adventure!

The trail is located just when you pull into Leavenworth, however you have to drive out a dusty non-maintained road for about 9 miles to the trailhead. ¬†Apparently several other people had the same idea as us and we had to park a good half mile from the trailhead. ¬†Discovered you have to fill out an Alpine Wilderness Day pass before you can head in! ¬†A group of WTA week long trail workers had just come out from working. Let’s all give a HUGE SHOUT OUT to WTA workers and volunteers for maintaining our fabulous trails here in Washington. ¬†I have a work party signup on my list! ¬†We all need to give back!!

The trail heads through the forest and along a creek, which I assume is Icicle Creek.  At least the first mile is entirely in the shade.  There was a nice cool breeze blowing so that was refreshing.  I knew it would be fairly warm, about 88 degrees, and I had learned my lesson about packing enough water on Mailbox Peak so I had about 80 ounces of water with me. I drank every last bit!!  All along the trail you have clearings which are simply spectacular!  The hills and mountains we climbed through and truly breathtaking.  We had several WOW moments.  It just reminds you how amazing this state is and how lucky we are to be able to take in this kind of natural beauty.

Climbing Colchuck is like playing leapfrog with other hikers. ¬†Sometimes you get passed by several groups and other times you pass several groups but everyone is always so friendly and encouraging to each other. I love that about hikers!! ¬†The elevation gain on this hike is a bit deceptive as it isn’t gradual over the 4.5 miles to the top. ¬†It’s all located in about 3 sections of the trail and all these sections are in the last 1.5 miles to the top

! ¬†It is a steady, at times never ending climb over rock stairs and tree roots. ¬†Just when you see a clearing and think “it’s just right there” you turn the corner and see you were completely wrong! ¬†The final push to the top is kind of daunting but once you reach the clearing and see the lake all the fatigue just washes away. ¬† It is a moment of awe! ¬†Nirvana!

The lake is aquamarine and crystal clear. ¬†You can see the bottom out as far as you can see. ¬†It is so inviting, taunting you to jump in because you are tired, hot and sweaty and it just looks so damn refreshing! ¬†I watched several younger individuals jump in and swim around. ¬†They seemed to be okay. ¬†I decided to just take my shoes and socks off and put my feet in the lake. ¬†It felt so good, but they were pretty much numb in a few minutes. ¬†Todd decided to jump in. ¬†The party next to us asked how it was and all Todd could say was “c-c-c-c-cold” and he quickly swam to shore and got out! ¬†I brought along my hammocks because I just love relaxing in a hammock on a hike! ¬†I am hooked on them! ¬†Todd was a little apprehensive, until he relaxed in one. Pretty sure I’ve converted him! ¬†We had a nice relaxing lunch hanging by the lake. We were both starving so we ate everything! ¬†Hoping we wouldn’t get hungry on the way down.

It took 3 hours to hike up (stopping for some photos, snacks and breaks to bring my heart rate back down to a non-heart attack level!) and about 2 1/2 to hike back down.

We ventured into Leavenworth to stop by the Cheese Monger for some Applewood Cheddar and Euphoria, which is a delicious sheep cheese).  Love that place!  Then headed over to Gustavs for a burger, fries and a cold beer!

Awesome day for sure!  If you have never been to Colchuck, put it on your list!!  AMAZING!

My first but not last overnight backpack trip to Shi Shi Beach

So Seattle has had a 50+ day stretch of no rain and I’ve been wanting to try an overnight backpack trip to the beach. ¬†I’ve seen quite a few hikers rave about using a hammock in lieu of a tent so I figured let’s give it a whirl! ¬†I was missing a couple items so I had to pick up a burner and a water purifier as ¬†you have to get your water out of a stream there. ¬†Don’t want to get some crazy bacteria that makes me violently ill when you know you have to hike out for over an hour! ¬†Then the excitement of deciding which dehydrated food to choose! ¬†I was actually surprised at the variety. ¬†I even saw dehydrated neapolitan ice cream! ¬†That seemed maybe a bit too adventurous for my first trip so I stuck with a couple staples–lasagna, chicken teriyaki and eggs and bacon for breakfast. ¬†I will admit I was a little nervous about what it would taste like so I packed “survival food” that I knew I would eat. ¬†I will admit I brought pretty much all of that home so I know for next time to not pack so much extra food. Weighed down my pack for nothing!

I convinced Tami she should go too so we got all loaded up! ¬†Of course the weather decided to take a slight turn and rain was now in the forecast. ¬†It wasn’t listed as heavy rain so no big deal. ¬†I mean we live in the PNW so we are all accustomed to a bit of rain!

So it takes like 5 hours to drive there. Didn’t realize that. ¬†Plus you have to stop at the WIC ¬†(information center) in Port Angeles to get an overnight permit. ¬†We were only about the 8th camping party in line, but I swear we were there for an hour! ¬†Luckily we did not need a bear can for our food as Tami had a friend that loaned us one. They were all out so everyone in line had to drive to Forks to get one, which was at least an hour or two each way out of the way. ¬†Yikes! ¬†We finally got our pass and headed to Neah Bay, where we had to stop to purchase a Makah annual visitor pass. ¬†Oddly, they sell them in restaurants! ¬†Now that we had all the required passes we head to the trailhead! ¬†You can’t park at the trailhead so we dropped all our gear off and I drove back to a house that lets you park on their front lawn for $10 a day. ¬†There are two residences that allow this and they are the ONLY places to park. ¬†One is a half mile from the trail and the other is a mile away. ¬†Luckily I got the last parking spot in the lot a half mile away and walked back to the trailhead.

The trail meanders through the Olympic National Forest, which is pretty cool!! ¬†It’s a really well maintained trail which several bridges to cross, including a cantilever bridge! The trail is 2 miles long. ¬†The second half is kinda muddy, but not more than I was expecting in a forest. ¬†The last section of the trail is a steep section down to the beach. ¬†You have to navigate over many roots, so they have added a rope to help you down and up that section of the trail. ¬†At this bottom this drops you out onto the beach. ¬†What a sight! ¬†It’s a cross between Ocean Shores and the Oregon Coast. ¬†Smooth sand with huge rock pillars out in the water. ¬†People tent camp all along the beach which is 2.3 miles long. ¬†We headed down towards the Point of the Arches as that is where most of the driftwood is located, which is necessary for hanging a hammock, and it’s also where the water sources are located! ¬†Walking the beach is pretty, but by this time, carrying a 35 pound pack is getting a little old.

It took about an hour to get our hammocks set up. ¬†I bought a bug screen for mine and could have sworn it also came with a rain guard, but boy was I sadly mistaken when I took it out! ¬† Note to self, read the description more closely when ordering!! ¬†Luckily Tami’s rain guard was large enough to cover both of our hammocks. ¬†By this time we are starving and break out the dehydrated meals! ¬†I try lasagna and Tami has a rice dish. ¬†I have to admit the lasagna was really good!! ¬†It could have fed 3 of us! ¬†Didn’t read the serving size closely either! ¬†Didn’t need the chicken teriyaki. ¬†We could see the rain was coming so we went on a scavenger hunt for driftwood for a campfire. ¬†Luckily there is plenty to choose from! ¬†I brought a couple fire starters and we quickly had a nice campfire going. ¬†In true PNW style everyone was out at their campfire in the rain and not seeking shelter!

We were suppose to see a really cool meteor shower but the cloud cover prevented that.  Instead of a spectacular glowing sunset, we were treated to a pink/purple sunset that held on until the blue hour, which is after the sun has set 12 degrees below the horizon.  At this point all the clouds turn blue.  The whole thing lasted about 20 minutes and we fell to darkness.  We decided to get all settled in the hammocks as the rain was obviously not going to stop.  I bet it rained from 5 pm to 3 am pretty steady then some wind after that.

Hammock sleeping is really comfortable. ¬†As a person with a bad back and who can barely walk after sleeping in a tent, I had to problems! ¬†Well, except for the occasional bit of water that fell off the rain guard when it couldn’t hold the puddle anymore. ¬†Nothing like being woken up at 2:30 am by ice cold water running down your back! ¬†Brrr!! ¬†I just rolled up in my Rumpl camping comforter (so comfy!!) and went right back to sleep. ¬†I kind of figured we would have some good fog in the morning, but the weather front blew over and we woke up to blue skies!

We were able to do some sightseeing at low tide as there is a ton of tide pools with starfish and anemones as well as some other sea life.  We could explore around the rocks.  Shi Shi beach is a beautiful beach.  You definitely have to work to get there but worth it!  I could see staying 2-3 nights to make the drive easier as well as give yourself a break in carrying a pack!

So I survived my first backpack trip!!  YAY!!  A couple learning lessons.  I packed one change of clothes too many. I packed WAY too much food, so I ended up brining most of it home(which meant extra unnecessary pack weight)!  I only packed enough water for the hike in and got all my other way at the stream after I filtered it.  That worked awesome!! The backpack is heavy so being as savvy with supplies and packing as light as possible is important!  I will re-arrange how I pack so most of the weight is in the middle of the pack.  Easier on the shoulders!

I’m hooked! I can’t wait to do it again!!

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