Kayaking Mukilteo

Setting off to a new launch point in Tulalip Cove in hopes of finding a new and unexplored world we embarked on a glorious journey. Hitting the road at high speed, these lone rangers of the sea tempted police by going 945 Smoots Per Hour over the speed limit but their blazing speed was no match for the troopers. It appeared that these two could not be stopped by anything. That was… until they were halted by a sign that announced that no public launches were allowed today.

Things looked dire.

But then, a brilliant flash  in the sky occurred, was it a superheated iron core meteor that flew through the atmosphere? Maybe it was a brilliant idea that made one of the travelers’ heads explode? Little did they know, it was a piece of aluminum foil in the shrubs that reflected the sunlight. Upon investigating, they chose a new path… a path that lead to Mukilteo.

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They were greeted by the sights and smells that they had become accustomed to, rotting fish carcases, general pollution, spilled coal from passing coal trains, old beer bottles, and saltwater. There was something that felt wrong with the scene and they quickly realized that the most evil creature lurked nearby. As you may have already guessed… it was the Geek Squad!

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The situation appeared to be under control however, as it didn’t seem able to free itself from the steel cage that held it tightly.

After eating some classy red velvet pop tarts, they proceeded towards the T-Dock and met up with one of their good pals from Seal Team 6. After a short exchange in a secret code language based on body language, we learned that the coast was clear from here on out. Some twirls and barrel rolls later and we departed.

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Further explorations revealed that the fish colonies were in school on Saturday, one can only guess that they were cramming for some final exams as it seemed every school was packed full!

They ended the day with a quick rescue as one of them must have been grabbed by a sea monster (or an unexpected wave…) and celebrated great victory by eating some tasty fish and chips. The young fish would be proud of what their parents became: Tasty… tasty… fish sticks!

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Tinkham Peak

It was a dark and stormy day… and two hikers decided it would be a great idea to ride the Seattle water supply’s knife edge once again.

These brave adventurers knew that they could only take what they could fit on their backs, which wasn’t much as they used 35L 3.5in 40 bicubic arubik fantubic bombulubic packs. It was a daring feat to be sure.

The goal was to summit another peak which is rarely summited in a great storm of slowly moving fog. With only 13 hours to complete the task of hiking 4 miles, they ate extra gummy bears before departing their transport ship (car).

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They pushed themselves to their limits; walking on rocks, sticks, twigs, (pine) needles, and the occasional blade of grass. Constantly aware of Seattle’s hair triggers on the armed guards’ weapons, and always cautious about the location of surrounding trees and enemy spies on the trail these young(ish) travelers continued to the summit.

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On the way down, a little girl found the lost body of an alien organism hidden within a rock. She was proud of her fossilized discovery, we were horrified. It looked like a dreaded leaf of despair!

Oyster Dome

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Oyster Dome is what you get when you have an ice age to polish off a big rock and humans to create a trail to celebrate the polishing of this rock.

The trail itself is in decent condition but could use some more switchbacks added (people have cut them too much and created slippery slopes that you have to climb up (possibly fatal if rain and chainsaws are involved)

The biggest draw that I had to this hike was the proximity to Puget Sound- If the breeze is blowing the correct direction, you get the sweet smell of warm evergreens along with the salt water. It is amazing how good dead things rotting on the shoreline can smell when it is mixed properly!

The second part of the adventure was a less visited site- the bat caves. These are located under the cliffs of insanity and are just gaps that formed when the rocks fell on each other.

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The spot seems to be a popular place for rock climbers to visit- the area was littered with a LOT of garbage, some ice packs, old equipment, and scorch marks from fires that were started in improper locations. You would think that these people would be more kind to nature out there- but that was not the case at all. I picked up some stuff, but forgot my garbage bag so I couldn’t do much unfortunately.

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The trail also featured ancient hieroglyphics- this scene was probably painted a long time ago during a massive hunt. There were other scenes found at other locations but they were mainly words such as $%#^, @#$&%^ and @!$%. Impressive vocabulary.

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This was my first visit here, and I enjoyed the hike quite well. The trail is also part of the PNT which is a 1,200mi trail from Glacier National Park to the Olympic Peninsula. These were my first footsteps on this trail and I quite enjoyed them.

Mount Kent and McClellan Butte

After discovering that I only had two major named peaks left on the South Side of I-90.. I made it a point to complete them as soon as possible.

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On Wednesday, I made my second attempt at Mount Kent (I fell ill to the point of not continuing last time). Starting fairly late in the day (about 11am) I started from NF9020 as I had already done the lower portion of the McClellan Butte Trail. Besides the old mining equipment up there, I really didn’t find that section very interesting.

The Mount Kent trail follows the McClellan Butte trail rather nicely and then branches off right before the trail veers to the North. This is where the fun begins. Walking along the signs that clearly state that you will be fined, shot, killed, and fined again if you trespass, it is a balancing act along some rather large (and loose) boulders. Too many feet to the South, and you will be shot and fined, too many feet to the North and you risk falling off a cliff and being eaten by bunnies. Yes… I have seen Monty Python- they are deadly. This hike requires quite a bit of GPS checking, as you are really close to many bad outcomes if you lose track of your route.

It is at this point that I should point out that there is a nice road that goes right to the Alice Lakes trail and would be an easy walk- but that isn’t an option due to the closure for the Seattle water supply.

My maps showed that I could walk along the road below for about 30ft before I had to dive into the woods again… I took advantage of it, and even managed one skip and a jump before the dreaded forest of doom had to be entered.

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Queue the mosquito noises. The blurriness in the photo above was due to the vibrations caused by the 1.4 billion mosquitoes that were in pursuit. The trail stays looking like this until the lakes, except for the small portions that were open fields of small rocks (I fell a few times). It was steep but I figured that I would suffer more blood loss from the mosquitoes if I took more time.

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At this point, I was asking myself why I ever go outside. Couches are nice, iced coffee on demand is fantastic. I quickly forgot my pain (and bleeding legs/hands) when I fell down a ravine and into the opening to the lower Alice Lake area.

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If I was not sick, I would have loved to swim in this lake. It was a good temperature, and at this point I could have used a bath, but I did not want to contaminate the water. This place only gets visited 1-2 times a year according to the log, and it has a splendidly pristine and untouched quality to it. Water tasted good also- I was banking on the availability of water on this hike as I didn’t want to carry more than I had to.

I continued up to a spine which eventually led to to summit, some minor scrambling was involved and lots of beargrass pollen coated everything. I was having a blast- being alone out here is quite calming and the beauty is superb. I brought my mp3 player but did not use it once, the only motivation that I needed was the promise of new experiences… and a large army of deer flies + mosquitos. On my way back, I stopped at the upper lake and I would highly recommend checking it out if possible- there are good swimming areas and some large trout live in there. The lakes feel as though they were once a destination but have been long forgotten, the fish have grown large and nature has reclaimed the land once again.

I walked back through the brush, fell a couple more times for good measure and back to the McClellan Butte trail. I took a break on a rock; sweating, panting, and covered in pollen. I was partially hoping that someone would see me there, bleeding and covered in brush thinking that I was just trying for McClellan Butte. I started laughing. Maybe I am finally losing it, but it would have been marvelous.

The trail up McClellan Butte is in excellent condition, and had been maintained rather well since my last visit. Right as I turned around the final switchback- a snarling dog came at me. Great… I had made it this far only to be eaten by an annoying dog. The all-to-common words were heard above the commotion: “Maneater is normally really good! I don’t know what is up with him!!!!!”, I have heard these same words from numerous people as their dogs chase me (off leash) and try to bite me or just be annoying. This area is especially dangerous as there are cliffs on both sides, and the outcome of jumping away could be a rather painful one.

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The top was quite beautiful and the fires burning off in the distance made for a scene that looked like a war zone. Alpine Lakes Nuclear Testing Ground just doesn’t sound very appealing.

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I was quite happy with doing two peaks in one day, and managed a faster than 3mph pace on the way down (without killing my knees). For anyone that is interested, the gps log can be seen here:

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The part that I entered the watershed is actually open to day use- but there are signs 2ft off trail that warn of the future bloodshed and fines that you will incur if you pass them.

Tomorrow will hopefully bring on a new hike that I have never done before (but is an incredibly popular one!) Oyster Dome.

Mount Defiance and Mount Gardner

The realization that I only have a couple peaks left to do along the I-90 corridor has given me something to focus on. Given that I have done most of the more popular ones, I am finally venturing into the less visited sites. One realization so far… there are reasons some of them are rarely climbed…

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Mount Gardner is one of those mountains… The trailhead is inaccessible, so you end up parking on a FS road that is gated off (and locked… after I went through it). I took my bike and made it up as far as I could before finally dumping it in the bushes and hiking the rest. Overall the hike was bland, some good views on occasion but it was just a logging road until the last climb to the summit… which was just a bushwhack as there were no trails that I could find. The top had a nice view towards Rainier and the visibility was good, so it wasn’t bad at all- it was an adventure! To keep the adventure going, I made it back down to my car only to realize that the road had been locked. Oops.

After about 2 hours and 45min, I was let out by two police officers (thankfully didn’t receive a $400 ticket) and I made it home. Whew!

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Mount Defiance is a gem of a hike however- it uses the same trailhead as a few other hikes, but I had never taken the trail all the way to this mountain. Unlike Bandera and Little Bandera (mainly little bandera as most people stop at this false summit), the trail is not a highway. I had it all to myself as a matter of fact! The flowers up there were absolutely amazing, bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds were buzzing me as they collected some sweet high altitude nectar.

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This was a much more scenic hike than Mount Kent to put it simply 🙂 I hiked alone as I have been feeling the urge to be that way recently, it allows me to converse with fellow hikers and rangers (if they are present… only 4 paid rangers exist in this ranger district), and I also enjoy the solitude. The hike was rather easy and I enjoyed every second of it- I took one break at the top but I enjoyed the feeling of my legs moving again. 4.75 hours up and down with 11 miles traveled and 3,300+ ft of elevation gain.

The Beargrass was amazing!

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I also went on an evening kayak trip- drank some ginger beer and ate Ivars’ fish and chips on the Mukilteo beach while waiting for the sun to set and the waves to calm down a bit. Eventually they did, and my friend and myself fought the waves and current a little bit before turning South and hoping that the waves would die off as the sun set. The evening was filled with splendid views, some trains, and a seal that thought we were interesting. It was good to be back on the water again! No pictures were taken as the water was rough, but it was a perfect sunset.

Then lastly, I tried Mount Kent today- the last of the Southern Peaks… but fell ill and turned back after only a short hike up. I was so close to being done… but that combined with the thunderheads forming above killed that opportunity!