An instructor who was scheduled to give four hours of lecture today came down with the flu, so classes were canceled. This coinciding with 55˚ and sunny means…you guessed it…a quick trip into the mountains! Continue reading
This time of year with its 33˚ and steady drizzle, snow piling up on top of the high trails, I absolutely ache for summer. It becomes palpable and I find myself pouring through photos of past trips or flipping through guide books and maps planning this year’s escapades.One trip, now two and a half years past, still gives me a glow upon remembering. The trip began with a drive through the town where one of my favorite TV shows was filmed. Roslyn, WA, adorable home of the set for Northern Exposure. I can totally see Gwen and I fixing up an old farmhouse there and letting the dogs go wild. The trailhead to Chikamin Lake is at a mere 700 ft of elevation. That means there’s a LOOONG way to go before treeline. Much of this approach, though extremely brushy, at times, was quite pleasant thanks to the unspoiled nature of the forest. Still, the camera didn’t come out much until a glimpse of a view showed itself, hours later.There is something sublimely rewarding about walking through a dense Cascade forest and feeling the woods open into a clearing here and a meadow there until all that’s left are the occasional sentinel beside the trail. The trail crested here, as we soaked in the expanse, then made its way down to a lake where we were met a slope of house size boulders and no clear way through.If you look close, you can see me beginning to navigate and get a sense of the scale.And here are Gwen and Dusky in two shots next to the impossibly upright monolith.We passed a crystal-clear triangle-shaped tarn at the top of the boulder field and were heartened to find a semblance of trail soon after. And it wasn’t long until we were very happy campers! The following day we set out on a loop that was, as Gwen would say, “Josh-style.” It is a hunt and peck method of wilderness travel, admittedly. Exploratory, as in, let’s just go a little further to see how doable it is. It certainly got exciting at times!And we were blessed with views from Mt. Baker (back home) to Mt. Rainier and beyond.Then, rewarded with fall color and a chain of lakes to rival the Enchantments.We simply couldn’t have planned it any better!
I think I’m going to go waterproof my boots now…
Days like this in January are rare like a wolverine sighting. I’ve talked before about input & output in the context of wilderness experience…yesterday was 95% output.
- Elevation gain: 3400 ft
- Mileage: 12 mi
- Time: 6 hours
On a hike to Baker Lake a few weeks ago, I was struck by the relative lack of snowpack and wondered how far a low-clearance all wheel drive could make it up the Forest Service road above the lake. Turns out, all the way to the berm created to keep monster trucks off the groomed snowmobile paths. A couple of years ago, Gwen and I snowshoed a similar approach to some high snowy meadows and were passed by about 3 dozen sleds all leaving behind a two-cycle induced petrol-plasma that our working lungs had no choice but to inhale. Yuck! Yesterday, Dusky the-ever-loyal-dog and I saw only two!I foolishly assumed there was only one road that lead to the destination of a summer trailhead. Nay, there were forks and branches of FS roads that I somehow managed to navigate, even with zero signage.It was my first time trying out micro-traction devices. WOW! They proved incredibly efficient at traveling the hard pack snow and sections of ice and not nearly as cumbersome as crampons.I had been eyeing this butte from a distance and was heartened to find it getting nearer and nearer as we climbed. After a late start (got out of the car at noon) the winter sun was already starting to dip quickly. But, I knew that there would be jaw-dropping views up there and so, changed out foot tools to snowshoes and headed up. Straight up.Once we gained the ridge the way was as clear as the sky. And thus began the creation of many, many panoramas.And some close-ups:
While many of our friends in other parts of the country are enduring a deep freeze, we’ve been having one of the calmest winters in memory here in the Pacific Northwest. A friend of mine who is a kite boarder has been totally bummed by the lack of wind. So bummed, he spent the las three weeks in Florida rippin’ up the warm surf. Continue reading
Bellingham, WA is frequently rated among the “most livable” cities in the nation. Recently, however, it topped a list of cities for something that it may not want to put on the brochures. My town absorbs the least amount of sunshine of any city in the lower 48. The sun shines only 35 percent of the time and is seems like that all comes in the month of July. Continue reading
With the forecast iffy at best, we threw caution to the wind and ended up having a splendid, if windy, time on trail. A friend in town from mountain-less Boston, MA who had lugged well-lugged shoes cross country was not to be daunted from a little unpredictable weather!
During a recent backpacking trip with friends, I asked them what the “wilderness experience” means to them. Continue reading
A commonly held belief about the Pacific Northwest is that it rains all the time. While, admittedly, it does feel like that at times; those times lie primarily between the months of November and May, sometimes June. Currently we are in the middle of a full on drought. Continue reading
There is nothing quite as dreamy as sleeping out under the stars. It is magical to just be out there. There’s also nothing quite as dreary as waking up to a steady pitter-patter on your face or mosquitos buzzing your ear ready to raise welts. Continue reading
A hiker’s best friend, dogs are a lot of fun to take into the wilderness. Their enthusiasm is contagious!