My first Lookout Hike

I’ve never been up to a fire Lookout before even though there are quite a few in Washington that you can hike to. The weather was looking pretty nice and we were going to get a later than normal start so the 2.6 mile hike seemed to be a good one for a gaggle of teenage girls and a younger brother.  I told my daughter we would be leaving at 10 am so she said I better start waking her up at 8 am so that she would actually get out of bed by 10. Gotta love summertime!

We all made it out on time and the six of us loaded up in the truck to head east on highway 2 past Index. Surprisingly there were only a few cars at the trailhead.  We started up the trailhead and quickly realized the kids hiked at a much faster pace than Tami and I!  They cruised right along barely breaking a sweat, pausing several times for us to catch up. Oh to be 13 again!  

As we neared the top walking through the first we could hear a couple trees creaking as they swayed slowly in the wind. Someone had put a sign on the side of the trail saying one of the trees would be falling down soon. It sure sounded like it!  After gawking for a few minutes we all decided maybe we should move further away just in case. Better to be safe than running for safety last minute!

The Lookout was pretty cool. A braced wooden structure that had about five floors of stairs to climb. The view at the top was pretty amazing. The skies were so blue with just a couple wispy clouds floating by. We took a short break at the top to have a quick lunch then we were off. Pretty sure the kids ran the whole way down the trail back to the truck. 

We even stopped at the river to cool off the feet. For us it was the feet but the kids decided to go swimming!  Great day getting the kids outside and on the hiking trail!  Might even get them out for an overnight trip to try out the new hammocks!

Goat Lake does not disappoint!

I planned on doing this hike a couple weeks ago but I decided to move it out and give myself more time.  The Goat Lake hike is 10.4 miles.  It’s about 35 miles past Granite Falls and about 35 miles past civilization and cell phone range! The Mountain Loop Highway feels like you drive way further than 35 miles.  The instructions tell you to drive until the end of the pavement plus 3.5 miles, so I did.  I drove to the end of the pavement, which was only a gap of about 30 feet before the pavement started again.  Hmmm….That must not be the end of the pavement they were talking about!  It wasn’t.  Out in the middle of nowhere, where there are a ton of camping spots along the river and a lot of hiking trails to explore, you finally hit the end of the pavement.  It’s for real this time!  Gravel road for 3.5 miles.  Total dust storm.  Although my truck is normally forest green, it is clearly dirt brown now!  The parking lot for Goat Lake is not very big and it was full so I joined the groups that were parking on the road.

I decided to take Lower Elliot trail out as it meanders through the forest and along the river so you get to listen to the birds and the water!  My favorite!  The first three or so miles is a nice stroll, then you start uphill to get to the lake.  I stopped a couple of times along the way to take some photos.  The waterfall just below the base of Goat Lake is pretty cool!  There was a ton of water flowing done the rocks so of course I had to venture down that side trail!  It alone was worth the hike!

There were a number of folks camping at the lake, but they are off to the left.  The trail surrounding the lake is for day use only.  Although I only saw a few people on the trail, there were quite a few at the lake already.  I had to scout out the area and see if I could find a place to hang my hammock, because it is National Hammock Day! I found a nice spot overlooking the lake and I could have totally taken a nap if it weren’t for the constant bugs! Not mosquitos.  These were flies, or they looked like flies, and they BITE to the point that  you can feel them biting!  Not fun!  This made for a shorter than planned stay at the lake:(  I packed up my gear and headed back down on the Lower Elliot Trail.  I’ve decided I’d like to try a one night camping adventure, but no tent.  Hammock sleeping, with net!

It took me 2 hours to get to the lake and 90 minutes to get back down.  This trail is a decent workout.  Enough sweating to let you know you are putting in some good effort!  Once you get out of the forest, you get to walk through narrow trails lined with wildflowers that were over my head tall!  The lake is stunning and worth the hike!  No snow around the lake but you can still see some on the hills.

Another great hike to check off the list!  Time to start planning a fall hike to Gem Lake.  I bet it is pretty spectacular with the fall foliage!!

Trail of Ten Falls in Oregon

I ventured down to Oregon over the weekend as my daughter was playing in the Adidas Beaverton Cup soccer tournament. I left a bit early, okay in the middle of the night, to catch sunrise at Mt Rainier. Unfortunately I was about 30 minutes late for that but I still managed to stop at Reflection Lake. You have to get here either first thing in the morning or at sunset to get a calm lake. The water truly was like a mirror. The skies deep blue with wispy clouds rolling by. This is one of my favorite spots to photograph. In the right conditions you can get some spectacular photos. I met a really nice older couple who were up from Portland. They were pretty chatty so we had some good conversation and laughed quite a bit!  I always love it when you run into friendly people!!

After Mt Rainier I headed done to Silver Falls Stare Park. I’ve read quite a bit about the Trail of Ten Falls. The trail is about 8 miles meandering through he forest and has Ten separate waterfalls throughout. Although it was a pretty warm day I was hoping for some shady conditions in the forest. Not so much!  This is a very crowded park and trail. I managed to see 9 out of the 10 waterfalls. Of the 9 I would say 4 were pretty cool. The rest were either obstructed or had such a small water flow that I’m not sure waterfall would be the right word to describe them. All in all it was worth the trip. Swear off a few pounds on that one. I apparently walked the trail the wrong way so I was headed uphill most of the time including a very long set of switchbacks and stairs!!

Glamping at Crescent Beach

I traded in tent camping a long time ago!  I prefer the luxury of sleeping in a real bed, cozy warm, particularly when it rains!  We still spend most of our time outside and I cook outside, but seeking refuge at night inside is okay with me(and my back problems prevent me from sleeping on the ground)!

Finding some camping time the last couple years has been a bit challenging with Kylie’s soccer tournament schedule.  We had a weekend off during vacation time so we headed to the beach!!  There is something about the water for me.  It speaks to my soul in the most clarity.  I grew up around water and we took weeks long boating trips so I’m sure that has something to do with it. I love the fresh air and the sound of the waves crashing on the sand.  We lucked out this time and had pretty spectacular weather!  There always is a slight breeze on the coast but that was about all.  We were even blessed with two days of minus tides so we were able to do some extra exploring!

We tried out a new place this time.  It’s a private park with its own 2 miles of beach, with only 34 sites!  Great for relaxing as there isn’t much else out there besides the beach.  We arrived and got all settled in and decided to go check out the beach!  Pure blissful sand!  The kind of sand you only walk barefoot on!!  There was a cool rock formation off to the side that became an island at low tide, but other than that, it was just water and sand!  The dogs were in heaven as there weren’t many people there so they could run and run and run.  With the beach being 2 miles long, I was able to walk it several times a day and got in over 12 miles of walking each day!

The first night was a  bit cloudy but I still went out to take some photos.  The wind calmed down in the late evening so it was pretty peaceful on the beach.  Just me and a couple other shutterbugs!  The kids were wore out from all the fresh air and running on the beach, so they both crashed and slept like logs! In the morning there was a minus tide so it was at least 50 feet out further than high tide. We looked for sand dollars and other marine life but didn’t find much.  We were able to walk out on this rock jetty that looked like lava rock. It was covered in mussels.  I mean COVERED.  Tens of thousands of them!  Biggest mussels I’ve even seen.  When the tide is in, almost the entire jetty is under water so I bet the seals and sea lions have a great feast!

The second night there wasn’t hardly a cloud in the sky and the sunset was spectacular!  My daughter wanted some new Instagram silhouette photos so she came out with me. The sky was blue with a few whispering clouds, and a golden sunset.  Great colors for photography except that I forgot to wipe off the dried sea spray from the lens, so I have some ghosting. Grrr!  Got some decent photos of her though.

It’s fun the spend time with the kids without all their normal distractions.  Sit around the fire and just chat and laugh.  Just acting like kids!  It puts a smile on my face and warms my heart to see them laughing and joking with each other.  They get such little down time together, it was good for both of them.  It’s important to set memories family memories they will carry forever.  They are both teenagers now so only two more years until Myah graduates from high school and then Kylie enters her last 2 years of high school.  Time sure flies.  Myah turns 16 in a couple weeks.  Doesn’t seem that long ago that she was just a little kid!  It’s so easy to get caught up in other distractions and totally miss out on your kids lives, so I’ve made a very conscious effort to be very present in their lives.  They are only young once and are out on their own before you know it!

We had two nicely spaced trees behind our RV so we were able to hang the hammock and have some relaxation.  I think the kids laid in it more than I did, but when I did after dark I realized we had a full view of the full moon in the valley.  Bonus!  That was so pretty!  I swear I took 40 photos but none of them turned out! I need to take a class on night photography! I’ll add that to the retirement list!

Four days later and we are home and unpacked.  Time to relax and do laundry! Lots of laundry!!


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