Burroughs 1, 2 and a herd of goats!!

We’d planned on doing this hike a couple weeks earlier but I somehow managed to miss the entrance to Mt. Rainier National Park. Still don’t understand how that happened! Just meant we needed to come back.

It turned out to be a pretty windy day with gusts about 25 mph. That’s not all that fun when you are on a dry mountain with blowing dirt. Luckily there is quite a bit of blockage areas along this hike. Burroughs is back on the Sunrise side of Mt. Rainier, which is definitely more desert like. Although the trail starts in the missile of a meadow, you quickly leave that and head out to the dirt and rock! This hike takes you along the side to Frozen lake as well, but instead of turning right to the lookout you go left up the Ridgeline. As we were walking along we would see a large herd of goats hanging out along with Wonderland Trail. We kept an eye on the herd and thought we could divert down there after our hike to get a look at the goats. My GF hasn’t seen goats up close so we were hoping they would still hang around.

Burroughs heading up to 1 and 2 is not the prettiest hike. You have long views out across the valley but the terrain is really dry and pretty boring. I would imagine it’s what the surface of Mars looks like! The highlight of the hike up was my GF attempting a headstand on top of Burroughs 1. It was a bit breezy up there. She tried several time and we ended up with a pretty funny video!

The trek from Burroughs 1 to Burroughs 2 was equally uninspiring. You can tell you are gaining some elevation as the air is a bit thin up there. We pondered on top of Burroughs 2 if we should head to the elusive Burroughs 3. Still not sure where it is or if it really exists. The park map doesn’t even show it! We decided to head back down and keep an eye out for the goats. Fortunately on the way back down we could see the goats the entire time and it was clear they were not moving anywhere. We made it down to frozen lake and made the turn onto the Wonderland Trail. We found a herd of goats bedded down in the trees. I would guess there were about 40 goats including several babies. We watched them for while then decided to head back down as it was getting pretty warm on the trail.

Another hike to check off the bucket list!

Skyline and High Skyline at Mt. Rainier

On August 22, the group headed back down to Mt. Rainier to hike Burroughs. I thought it would be a great opportunity to stretch out the legs and see some different terrain at Mt. Rainier. We were so busy chatting on the way down that I actually missed the turn into Sunrise at Mt. Rainier. Not exactly sure how that happened and I passed at least 3 signs telling me to turn! So……anyways we ended up at Paradise at Mt. Rainier. I haven’t hiked there in a really long time so it was a nice change. The Paradise side has a lot more meadows and waterfalls. You get a much closer look at the glaciers on Rainier and can see the trek to Camp Muir! Camp Muir is still on my bucket list!

Luckily Cathi has hiked Skyline before and knew it was a really nice trail. Portions of the trail are actually paved which is interesting. This trail starts at the well known stairs, etched with a John Muir quote. Right from the get go we saw the most marmots I’ve ever seen! They were everywhere!!! We even saw a couple bucks eating some vegetation. The marmots are clearly use to seeing people regularly. They stand right next to the trail or cross the trail right in front of you. At times they look like they are engaging you in a stare down!

What’s nice about this trail, beyond the view, is the ongoing view of Mt. Rainier. It feels like you are virtually standing on Mt. Rainier at times. It’s so close you can almost reach out and touch it! The glaciers on this side are amazing. You can see the blue ice, cut deeply with crevases and fissures. You just don’t understand the magnitude of these. To be able to see them with such detail at that distance, you know just how massive they truly are.

Although we had pretty clear skies, we also encountered some cloud layers as we gained elevation. One of my favorite parts of being on a mountain is the ability to get above the cloud layer. When you are above the clouds, the tops look like cotton balls. It looks like you could walk right out on them! Maybe that’s what the heavens look like. It just give an entirely different perspective to the environment. We were so lucky and were able to see Mt. St Helen’s, Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood from the trail. That is pretty amazing! I’ve summited Mt. St Helens. I’m going back to Mt. Adams in 2021 to finish that hike! If all goes well maybe even add Mt. Baker to the 2021 list!

This hike for the crew was a bit more difficult. It didn’t have more elevation gain or mileage, but the starting elevation point and increase created some issues with the thinner air. Right from the start a couple were having a hard time breathing but I think the views were a nice distraction.

Sometimes getting lost leads you to the best hikes! This hike lived up to that!

Fremont Lookout in Mt. Rainier National Park

Not sure what it is with me and sunset hikes. Somehow even when the forecast is calling for clear blue skies, which equates to gorgeous sunsets, when I arrive the weather has another idea in mind! Last night was no different!

We arrived at the park and there was a noticeable chill in the air. The mountain breeze was blowing through the valley creating a light misty fog. Good thing we brought a few layers for the lookout! Needed to put on an extra layer in the parking lot! And a hat!

From the parking lot the trail immediately starts on an incline to get up to the first saddle. There is a maze of trails in MRNP so you come across several markers at trail intersections giving directions and distances to multiple trails. Even it was becoming pretty clear there would be no views at the top, the trail was reasonably busy.

At the first saddle we had a cool weather phenomena with the wind pushing the cooler air through the valley up to and over the saddle. It creates a wispy blow over, similar to a misting fan over a beer garden on a hot day. Well of course we were without the beer and the hot weather!

After the saddle the trail takes you through a talus field. There are nice sweeping views of the valleys in this area. It would be a perfect spot to see a bear grazing in the fields. You know, way down in the valley at a safe and acceptable distance! After the talus field in a small public water source. I believe it is called frozen lake. It was mostly thawed, but with a few small icebergs. On a sunny day I bet that makes a beautiful photo!

After the lake, is the steady climb to the lookout. I’m just going to imagine you can see Mt. Rainier along this part. We saw a lot of whiteout and not much more!

Made it to the lookout in about 90 minutes with another 30 or so people to see a sunset……..or not. The wind was picking up a bit at the top so we needed to put on our puffy jackets to cut the wind. Then decide what to snack on. Several funny conversations about that! We both decided we should have brought whiskey. I even thought about bringing my Jetboil for some hot chocolate at the top. We sat at the lookout to block some of the wind. Twice we saw a 5 second peak at the top of Mt. Rainier. Unfortunately by the time I could get my phone out to take a picture it was gone!

We headed back down and needed our headlamps to see most of the way. With so many intersections along the trail on the way back we had a couple spots to make sure we were taking the right trail to make it back to the parking lot.

Definitely will be going back on a clear day because Mt. Rainier is so close to that lookout. A clear sunset would be spectacular. Another day!

Nice hike. Good company and conversation. Always makes for a great day!

And I do my little turn on the Katwalk…..

Kendall Katwalk that is! I decided to take a little spin up on the Katwalk. It’s a 12 mile RT hike from Snoqualmie Pass, mostly on a portion of the PCT. The trail is easy to follow and has a steady slow grade gaining 2,600 feet elevation over the 6 miles to reach the Katwalk. Although the trail starts out in the forest, you quickly break out of the trees into the open and cross a few talus fields. I chose to do this hike on Sunday and it was in the 80’s in Seattle, which for us PNWers is HOT! I started the trail at 7 am and did not encounter many hikers, but saw several trail runners. Not my idea of a good time but they seemed to be having fun!

This trail has several really long straight sections where you can see the trail for a long ways. At times this is nice as you can see the gradual incline, but the downside is at times it feels like you are standing still. The end before the next switchback seems to far away! So many spots to stop for breathtaking views and photos. I’ve just taken my iPhone with me but I think I need to invest in a mirrorless camera. I need more than my iPhone but my DSLR is too heavy!

As I was coming out of the forest I ran into another hiker, who broke out into a narrative about all the peaks surrounding us, giving a thorough description of each. Impressive. A minute later he says, “I’m not that smart, I just used the peak finder app right before I saw you so all the information was fresh”. HAHA! We both had a good laugh about that. Honestly I generally love other hikers I run across on the trails. Everyone is so friendly and easily strike up a quick conversation before the parting “have a great hike/day” comment.

For the most part social distancing was super easy to follow. If passing was necessary most of the trail allows for someone to step off the trail for others to pass. There are a few sections where this isn’t permissible. The vast majority of hikers/runnings were carrying face coverings and used them when necessary. Many took the opportunity to take photos of the surrounding peaks and of course Mt. Rainier! There is something special about Mt. Rainier. She is just so majestic set against a blue sky. We are so lucky to live near her. Lots of exploring can be down at Mt. Rainier National Park.

This hike has a couple talus fields to cross. I have to admit I’m not a big fan of talus fields. Since the rock moves constantly there are always rocks on the trail and the fields seem to put off a good amount of heat and reflection. Sunscreen, lip sunblock and a hat were necessary items! Along with lots of water!

Towards the top there is a 15 foot section of trail that still has a block of snow covering it. Some chose to be brave and try to create steps in the snow above the trail. Most of us chose to drop down and try to skirt the snow. It was a bit slippery but made it with no issues.

I had a big surprise at the saddle, with the sighting of a transplant mountain goat! Washington State Wildlife officials have been moving the goats from the Olympic Peninsula (where they are not native) to the Cascades (where they are native). They are easily identified by the tracking collars they wear. They are much happier in the Cascades with better food options throughout the year and the ability to roam freely. They are just the cutest and always a happy surprise when you see one!

The actual Katwalk is a narrow path carved alongside a slab of rock. If you continue past the Katwalk, there are two lakes where people backpack. My feet were a bit tired and it was getting pretty hot so I decided to stop at the Katwalk. There was a nice breeze at the top so that felt pretty good. I saw several trail runners at the Katwalk so they are at least doing the 12 miles!s. Crazy!!

On the way down I saw Mr. Goat again. He had moved down the trail a bit and was lounging on the mountainside in a patch of flowers having some lunch. I saw a lot more people on the way down who were headed up in the heat! They were all pretty excited to know they would get an appearance of a goat. The information gave them a bit of energy boost to keep going. I was glad to be heading down around 11 AM. It was hot but we still had not reached the heat of the day. I felt back for those who were heading up in the hottest time of the day.

The hike down was pretty uneventful. Great views on the way down. Pretty much staring at Mt. Rainier most of the way. Sometimes the trip back always feels quicker, but on this one I wouldn’t say that was the case. Probably because the sun was up much higher so there really wasn’t much shade until almost the very bottom. Might also have been the developing blister I could feel on the back of my right heel. Now sure what that was all about. My normal boots and socks, but wowza not a fan of the quarter size blister I now have!

I’m feeling good about the 12 miles. Coming off a significant shoulder surgery in January, I am working on getting my stamina back and wearing a backpack. I generally don’t wear my summer Osprey 22 pack as the shoulder strap sits right on one of my repair areas. I normally wear my Osprey 36 which sits better. I decided to gut it out and wear my 22 and it was pretty good. I was a bit sore at the end but nothing major. That’s progress!!

Another great hike to check off my list! I’m trying to set my ambitious sights on Mt. Adams and Mt. Baker next summer. We shall see!

Bandera Mountain via Mason Lake

Hiking is one of my sanctuary activities.  Whenever I have a lot on my mind and just need to get away into the mountains I head.  There is just something about the smell and sounds of nature.  The distractions just seem to melt away.  As you disappear into the forest and become one with the trail, you just feel all your struggles melt away.  Gazing through the forest at the variety of trees, flowers and berries you become a small part of the forest.  You don’t think about it or make an intentional action to relax or cleanse your mind.  It just happens.

This trail, named Ira Spring,  is the lead in to several options.  One can go to Mason Lake, Bandera Mountain, Mt Defiance and a number of other spots.  With that being the case, we arrived early, but the parking lot was not only full, it was overflowing and we ended up parking about 1/2 mile down the road.  It was a nice gently warmup walk for what was to come!  The trail winds its way through the forest on an unrelenting incline.  I’m pretty sure I read somewhere a description of this trail as “meandering” through the forest.  In my mind I envision “meandering” as a relaxed pace similar to a saunter that requires no much effort or sweat.  This trail definitely did not line up with that description!  Although the path is generally wide, flat is nowhere to be found on it!  My legs were feeling good.  My heart was pumping and sweat was pouring! You kind of always look ahead a bit to see the top of an incline so you can give the thighs a break, but not on this trail.  I could hear Todd behind me and he was breathing hard so I knew it wasn’t just me!

As we headed up it was becoming obvious that we would be socked in with a huge cloud layer.  No views for the day!  That is a bit defeating when you are working hard, but it’s okay.  We passed a few people on the way down who said Bandera was totally clouded over and that there was a huge tourist group (about 30 people) headed up there so they suggested Mason Lake as it is in a valley so it was clear.  One of those hikers is named Kristen and she has Largent, the famous hiking wonder dog!  I had my first Largent, the hiking wonder dog encounter!  At 3 miles in, there is a Y in the trail.  You can go to the left for about .9 miles to Mason Lake, or you can go to the right for about .9 miles to Bandera Mountain.  We chose Mason Lake.  The trail only continued the incline for about .4 miles, before we descended into the valley to the lake.  Mason Lake is one of the many alpine lakes in the Alpine Wilderness.  Each lake has its own unique characteristics.  From the lake we would see the top of Bandera Mountain and a few hikers up there.  At first they looked like little trees.  Until they moved!  There are some nice tent or hammock spots at the lake and lots of water bugs and jumping fish.  This would be a great place to backpack too and use as a base camp to hike up Mt. Defiance.  Bring your fly fishing rod!   We stayed at the lake for about an hour, eating some lunch.  I changed up my lunch routine this time and brought fresh pineapple, cherries, RX bar and my go to plantain chips!  It was a much lighter lunch that was refreshing and filling.  It recharged my body for the hike out.

On the way out, you feel good because after the initial .5 mile hike out of the valley, it’s all down hill!  My legs were feeling really good.  We could see the clouds were dissipating and we could start to see the mountains around us.  At points we were below the clouds and at other points above the clouds.  I told Todd let’s see how we are feeling when we get back to the Y for back to the car or head up to Bandera.  I was feeling good when we reached this point so I told Todd let’s check it out.  I regretted that decision when I saw the incline.  You know an incline is steep when you actually can’t see the top of where you are going.  You could only see about 40 feet in front of you and the view never changed!  It’s .9 miles to the top and it is straight up hill!  Trekking poles helped at first, but they just got in the way as you needed to use your hands to scramble up parts of the trail.  The trail is not very wide and you need to concentrate on where you place your hands and feet.  It makes passing hikers who are coming down challenging at times.  If you make a wrong step it can be disastrous.  We stopped a few times on the way up to slow the heart rate down and take in the massive amount of bear grass growing on the hillside.  At times portions of Mt Rainier would poke out through the clouds.  At one point it appears you are reaching the summit, but instead you duck back into a large grove of trees and disappear for about 15 minutes.  Once you come out of the trees you quickly realize there is more climbing to do!  Finally the summit does appear.  We were able to see back down to Mason Lake.  We were above the clouds so it looked like we were sitting in thin air.  The clouds looked like a huge bowl of meringue that went on as far as you could see.  I love that!  A light crisp breeze blowing by.  The high clouds turning with the wind patterns in the sky.  You close your eyes and just breathe in the fresh air and feel the sun on your face.  Your body is tired but it feels so good.  Relaxed.  Then a bug flies in your mouth and tries to fly down your throat!  Apparently I had sweat so much I must have appeared like a large salt lick!

After sitting at the top for a half hour or so we decided to head back.  You could see the low clouds coming back in and getting down that trail in little visibility would not be a good idea.  No poles on the way down.  Hand grabs were definitely needed!  We safely made it down to the main trail and started the 3 miles “meander” back to the car.  Not sure what it is, but sometimes the trail down goes so fast and other times it seems to drag on forever.  This trail seems to drag on but the forest was pretty.  Portions were in the clear and other portions were shrouded in fog.  We finally made it back to the car.  The body was tired, but it was a good tired.  The mind and soul were cleansed and ready to appreciate another day!

Altogether we logged around 11 miles.  Mason Lake is 6.5 miles and about 2,400 feet elevation gain.  Bandera Mountain is 8 miles and 3,400 feet elevation.  Since these trails start on the same trail the first and last 3 miles are the same.

Happy Trails!

 

Sauer’s Mountain

I’ve hiked this trail before last year but we didn’t have the best weather so there weren’t any views at the top. I decided to try it again as we had a few days of good weather, bordering on a bit too hot in Eastern Washington. This hike is located in Peshastin which is just east of Leavenworth. In the Spring this is a great hike to see wildflowers.

Since we’d had a bit of a dry spell this Spring the trail was pretty dusty and somewhat overgrown by all the wildflowers. The trail has views the entire way to the top. In some parts you look back over all the vineyards in the valley. Other views are mountain tops covered in snow against the backdrop of blue sky. On the flat parts of the trail you walk through meadows of wildflowers. Even though it was still early in the year quite a bit of the wildflowers were done blooming. With how dusty the trail was you can tell we will have a busy fire season this year.

At the top you have a 360 view. It’s a nice place to eat lunch and drink water! Not much shade on this trail so on a hot day you drink a lot of water! I was so happy to have clear skies at the top! Another great day out on the trail!

After it’s always nice to head into Leavenworth to grab some lunch and an ice cold beverage!

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!

So much history behind the Monte Cristo Ghost Town

      This hike has been on the bucket list for some time and I bet we’ve had it planned for the past month. There is something about ghost towns that draw my attention. To walk on the same path of settlers, miners or timber workers from the 1800’s is pretty awe inspiring. I took our group a couple hours to walk the nearly five miles to the homestead. When we see the old railroad ties, saw blades, and the still operational train turnstyle it truly makes you appreciate the hard work and I mean hard labor all these individuals engaged in daily to not only get to Monte Cristo but to build and live. Several buildings still stand and have small plaques giving you the history of the building. 

      In modern days Monte Cristo is well out of the populated areas and doesn’t have of today’s “necessities” however back in the day Monte Cristo was a thriving tourist town with dozens of houses/cabins and a hotel. The train brought in goods and people and exported lumber and minerals.  If only you could hear the history theough whispers in the wind. What stories they would tell!

      This is a nice wide trail that really is road size. We say a couple washouts along with way but nothing too bad. We even got to cross a river by walking on a downed tree over the river. Not bad in the summer but it could be a little more dicey in winter/spring with a raging river.  We were a fairly large group of 8 today. All general hikers and one bad ass carrying a 45 pound pack getting ready for a 10 day hike at Mt Rainier!  Weather was good, not too hot but the smoke from the BC fires is still visible. It didn’t diminish the beautiful scenery though!  Wildflowers are out and we even spotted a frog or toad. I don’t know how to tell the difference😬. 

      We tried a new spot on the way home too. Dreasnought Brewery serves some pretty good food and some nice refreshing beverages!

      Another great day on the trails today!  Until next time!

      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!!

      Sauer’s Mountain in Peshastin,WA

      I’ve read about this hike a few times and was intrigued by the wood carvings along the trail as well as the story behind the trail.  My friend, Tami,and I decided to head over to Eastern Washington and check it out for ourselves.  The weather in the Seattle area called for rain.  I know crazy right!?!?  Usually Eastern Washington is a bit drier so we headed out.  Well, that is where the adventure began.  We made it to Steven’s Pass and were greeted by a pretty good snow storm.  The roads were covered and it was coming down pretty good.  It is mid-May right??? Undeterred we continued on our way and found some sun breaks the closer we can to Leavenworth. Just outside Leavenworth traffic came to a halt on Hwy 2, which is notorious for head on crashes so we assumed that is what happened.  We were wrong. We came upon, one vehicle pulled over and 6 cop cars.  Most likely the remnants of a high risk stop to catch a bad guy.  Luckily the stop didn’t last long and we were back on our way.  We arrived at the small parking lot adjacent to the trailhead, donned our backpacks and headed out or UP I should say.

      This trail is posted as 5 miles roundtrip with a 2,000 foot elevation. The trail starts on the property of Mr. Sauer, who not only graciously lets hikers go through his property to get to the National Forest trailhead, but he greets all the hikers on their way up and on their way back out. Very nice man and pretty funny too!

      The first mile of the trail is pretty much up hill.  There is a 1,500 foot elevation in the first mile or so, before it levels out and you head through the forest and along the ridge line. Actually several ridge lines.     Although it is listed as 2.5 miles to the top, it feels much longer than that!  There are nice wood markers along the way to let you know how far you have come and what the elevation is.  The sun was out and it was reasonably warm so it was a good workout!  About 3/4 of the way up it started to rain, rapidly followed by HAIL!  We figured we were pretty closers we didn’t drive 90 minutes to not make it to the top!  We pushed on and finally, and I mean finally we could see the top.  The last 300 yards is pretty much straight up hill!  At the top is a nice marker telling you all the mountains around, however we had to trust them as the clouds were so low we couldn’t see any of the tops. I bet on a clear day, the view is spectacular!  There also is a sign in book at the top.  Don’t forget to take your picture at the sign so everyone knows you made it to 3100 feet!

      One interesting part of the trip was the number of senior citizens we saw on the trail.  I’m not talking one or two, but around 20 in several groups.  This is a decent workout on the thighs and calves so we were pretty darn impressed they were headed for the top!  Reminds you of the importance of keeping active and also that you better not quit before the top because that 75 year old is crushing the trail to the top!!  A little peer pressure never hurt anyone!

      On the way out we ran into a yellow tailed marmot, who was a little intrigued by us, but ran back under the rock when we got too close.  I also bought a bottle of wine from Mr. Sauer. Their family makes wine under the name Farmhand Winery.  I don’t drink wine so some lucky friend of mine is getting a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon!

      Cheers!

      Tiptoe through the Tulips

      The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival brings visitors from around the world.  Massive field full of daffodils, followed by ribbons of color and the sea of tulips takes over the valley.  Having grown up in Washington I’ve seen the downsizing of the fields as more and more fields were lost to the sod/turf business or just left vacant.  The center strip between the highways used to be filled with wild daffodils when I was a kid but now just a few holdovers have survived.  Still this is a beautiful sight to see. Every year we all await the news that the daffodils and then tulips are in bloom and make the trip up to Mt. Vernon.

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