Sunday, May 30, 2010

One week To Go

Next hike date is probably next Sunday, June 6th.

Check your calendar and the weather forecast and then let me know if you're up for an adventure that day.

Not sure where or how high but rumor has it that there's a new load of snow up in the Alpine country meaning some of my high priority destinations may get bumped to 2011.

Happy Trails!


Friday, May 21, 2010

Twin Falls 05-08-2010

The original plan, after my summit of Mailbox Peak, was to meet my sister and her husband for a short (but steep) hike to Pinnacle Peak near Enumclaw.

Unfortunately, while I was on Mailbox Peak she decided it would be good to have a roast for dinner... so into the oven it went.

Luckily, we made phone contact before I left North Bend... saved me a drive to Enumclaw.

With the change in her plans, I decided that a short visit to Twin Falls State Park would be a great cool down hike. It's located on the south side of I-5 just east of North Bend. A hop, skip and a jump from the Mailbox Peak trail.

The nice weather seemed to have brought locals out of the woodwork and the parking lot at Twin Falls (west entrance) was jam packed. Parking was in limited supply, but it seems parking along the road is acceptable.

With only a few snacks, a camera and a tripod I made my way along the river toward the falls.

It was slow going as my exhausted muscles began questioning my sanity in starting this second hike of the day.

My only visit to Twin Falls was long, long ago... back when Rob and I first started our hiking adventures. One weekend we spent a day in the Olympics, hiking up to Flapjack lakes (well, almost to Flapjack lakes, turned around due to snow just short of the destination). That was about a 14 mile day - one of the longer hikes that I've done as a grown up. After overnighting at his place, I decided it would be relaxing to visit the Twin Falls trail on my way home.

As I look back at my long list of Trip Reports, it seems that trip was probably in the early summer of 2004... just before I started documenting my hikes in Trip Reports.

The soreness I felt today was much like the soreness that I felt after the Flapjacks hike.

Way back then I recalled how the trail designers chose to have the trail go up and down through a number of drainage's before reaching the falls... and wonder why they didn't try to follow the elevation contour lines instead.

All the ups and downs made the hike more difficult than I was expecting for such a local and popular destination. Surely, if both visits hadn't been preceeded by pushing my physical limits the trail probably really is eazy-cheezy.

There were a lot of families along the trail. One not-too-concerned father stopped to ask me if I had seen his two kids which seemingly wandered off while he wasn't looking. He said he last saw them about 10 minutes ago.

After checking my watch, I told him I did see a couple kids that could have been his out near the trailhead. They didn't seemed concerned or worried but were merely having a conversation which I had overheard as they passed. The sentence I overheard included something about 'finding their parents'; although given the context and their behavior it didn't seem as though they were talking about not knowing where their parents were at that precise moment.

That was 20 minutes ago.

The father thanked me for the info and let me know that they frequented this trail often and the kids were experienced in the outdoors. They probably weren't worried and he'd probably locate them in the parking lot. Onward he went.

After a while, I finally arrived at the falls. Out came the camera.

Knowing there is an eastern end to the trail, I decided to continue beyond the falls to see whatever there might be to see.

After about 1.2 more miles, the trail eventually intersected the John Wayne trail with little fanfare or items of interest. Mostly, it was just a gradual ascent of more elevation.

Having had enough, I turned around at the intersection with the J.W. Trail.

I didn't cross paths with the 'father looking for kids' or 'kids looking for parents' on my return. Presumably they all made it home safely.

By the time I returned to my car my stomach was grumbling something fierce and my legs were, well, on their last leg.

Into the car, off to Starbucks, a stop for teriyaki and then home to unpack and collapse.

What a fantastic day!


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Mailbox Peak (Summit!) 05-08-2010

Another hiking day with a lack of buddies, but that worked out well since I used the day to just grind out both miles and elevation in an effort to get in shape for my hit list this summer.

I'm pleased to announce that I can now mark Mailbox Peak off my list... and it was actually on my to-do list this year.

My first visit to this trail was in April and we bailed after about 2,500 ft of gain or so. Trip Report available here.

Today it was just a steady pace from the bottom to the top and it took just a touch over two hours to summit, although when I passed the tree-reflector that was marked "15-30 min to go" it took me almost an hour.

Stabilicers and poles both came in handy.

Gaiters would have been nice for the last stretch as you exit the forest because it's simply a muddy mess.

The weather was absolutely perfect, although it looked a little less favorable on the south side of I-90.

The trip itself was relatively uneventful, except for the two hikers I passed on the ascent who were playing Indian Music via a mini boombox one of them had strapped to his belt. I came across them again as I descended the boulder field and the music was no longer playing.

Descent took just a little less than two hours.

No joking around... this trail is tough. It's steep and the views are nonexistent until you break out of the trees a few thousand feet up. It's great for training and the views are outstanding if the weather is compliant.

I give it a two thumbs up as a memorable summit destination!


Gold Basin Mill Pond Trail - 04/25/10

After stopping by the Youth on Age trail, the next stop was at a little pull out along the Mountain Loop Highway at a place called Gold Basin Mill Pond.

Like the Youth-On-Age trail, this is one that I've driven by countless times with never stopping. With a flexible schedule, today seemed like a prime opportunity to swing by for a visit.

As it turns out, this is a wheelchair accessible nature walk that is probably less than 1/4 mile... round trip. It's short. It's flat. It has some signage... which I will simply display for you instead of re-typing it.

The scenery wasn't much... just typical MLH forest and a pond.

There are a number of other signs as well. Most focused on the fish and explained a little about their life cycle and how fish ladders were constructed to help the fish return to the pond once the mill was out of the picture.

Definitely worth a visit if you are in the neighborhood... after you're wiped out from a day of hiking.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Youth on Age Trail - 04/25/10

The Youth On Age trail is located in Snohomish County along the Mountain Loop Highway between Granite Falls and the Big Four Ice Caves.

In essence, this is a very short nature hike that wanders from the MLH to the Snohomish River and back via a nice short loop. "Short" means it is a mile. Or less.

Along the way there are a number of wooden signs provided to aid in identification of certain species or forest characteristics.

While interesting, many signs lack any additional information which would be useful for knowing a little more about what specific item is being described.

For example: Youth On Age may very well be a trail name, it is also the name of a kind of plant. When the sign just says "Youth On Age" you're kind of left hanging there... wondering if it is a plant and if so, which plant is it?

Signs were noted for the following plants or characteristics:
Ground Moss
Sitka Spruce
Forest Opening
Western Hemlock
Douglas Fir
Vine Maple
Big Leaf Maple
Devis Club
Nurse log
Red Alder
Self Pruning
Sword Fern
Youth On Age

The loop wanders down by the river and just beyond the parking lot is a side trail that provides direct access to the beach.

A recent log jam / deadfall was noted. It appears these all fell across the river while also wiping out a small section of the trail. The trail must have been rerouted already - but I'm not sure when those tree fell.

Although not marked, underneath a huge nurse log fungus was hiding this unique figure. It appeared to be some kind of cross shaped charm, outfitted with decorations so that it resembled a figure instead of just a pile or arranged duff. Look carefully... can you see it?

Could it be a legendary Stick Indian?

The trail is nice, albeit short. The tread is wide and may even be wheelchair compatible. In most places.

Next Stop:
Gold Basin Mill Pond

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Success on Mailbox followed by a visit to Twin Falls and now having dinner

Friday, May 7, 2010

Planned Itinerary for 5-8-10

I don't check the mailbox on our street very often just because there isn't usually anything in there that makes me smile.

Now, the mailbox on the summit of Mailbox Peak is a different story. Sure, it's a lot more effort to get there, but chances are the contents will make you smile. Well, maybe not, but at least it won't have any bills in it.

Saturday will probably start off with a second visit to Mailbox Peak to see how high I can go, comfortable. With the low snow levels (is it really May?) and my lack of familiarity with the trail above 2,500 feet means I may likely not go all the way up (again). We'll just have to see.

Regardless of how far up Mailbox I go, the plan is to meet Rachel & Steve in Enumclaw for an afternoon hike to Pinnacle Peak (aka the Carl Magnussen Trail). This is not the Pinnacle Peak south of Mt. Rainier... this is the 1,000 foot cinder cone just outside of Enumclaw.

So, elevation gain is the theme of the day. Pictures may not be all that fantastic, but its all to help make sure this body is ready to tackle the "bigger and better" destinations that have been on my to-do list for too many years.

Plus, Pinnacle Peak is 'new to me' which is another one of my objectives this year.

Hopefully a trip report will be coming in the next few days.

Happy Trails!


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Upcoming Hike 5/8/10

Fresh snow down low, avalanche warnings in the backcountry and the coldest May 5th in history all add up to me not being sure where I'm going this Saturday.

Maybe a visit back to Mailbox to cross it off the list; maybe an outing to Cow Heaven (yes, you read that right) with the Mount Baker Club. Then again, maybe I'll go hiking with Ken Wilcox in the Chuckanuts to learn a little about the local geology or perhaps I'll get the chance to hang out with Skagit Valley's own Vince Richardson.

Heck... maybe I'll just head to North Bend and try to find Big Ben - the wild turkey that's running around out there scaring kids.

So many options, so many choices, so little free time.

Mayhaps there will be a little Mother's Day shopping before I head back home, too.

Drop me a line if you're interested in tagging along for whatever adventures might come my way that day.