Umtanum Falls

Umtanum Falls has been on my list of hikes that I should do- but since I had heard so many bad things about them being “super totally stupidly lame”, I had kept on pushing it back on my goal list. After failing to be able to make it to the first trailhead, we decided to go for something a little shorter and lower as we had burned through a bit of the day already.

So we decided that Umtanum Falls was short, and would be ok. I was surprised to find out that it was actually a really cool hike!

Untitled_Panorama1sml

The falls were flowing quite well this time of the year- I have seen pictures that show a trickle over the top, which has disappointed quite a few people in the past. The pictures also make the falls seem like they are only about 6-10ft tall- but this turned out to be quite a bit off. I was surprised as to how nice they were!

DSC05710edsml

The lava rocks held quite a bit of life, and had some really nice shapes and colors.

DSC05744edsml

One of my favorite things about the desert is that the beauty is not immediately apparent- you have to look for it to be able to enjoy it. I am always fascinated by the varied life found hidden in the landscape- these flowers were quite small but were quite pretty! There were some other species as well- but the photos of those didn’t turn out well unfortunately.

DSC05746edsml

There are tons of flowers in this picture- and maybe even a godzilla! (well ok.. maybe not… but one can hope). At first glance- this looks like a fairly dead landscape.

Maybe it is because I had such low expectations- but I found this hike to be rather pleasant and quite enjoyed my time there.

Advertisements

Odessa – Lake Creek Trail

On a quest to regain some of my long distance abilities, I did a search on WTA’s fantastic hike finder (which is more useful than the hike finder map as it includes more hikes that are less popular). My specific search consisted of Mileage Range: Over 12 miles, less than 500ft gain. My hope was to find a 20+ mile hike with less than 500ft of climbing as I have been at a computer job for a month now and feel weaker already.

DSC05158edsml

The Odessa – Lake Creek Trail popped up: 26mi with 300ft of gain. Fantastic! (or so I thought…) only gaining 300ft in 13 miles was rather impressive and seemed too good to be true. Well… it turns out that it was indeed too good to be true- WTA took the information from a book called “BEST Desert Hikes Washington” which does the incredibly annoying thing of taking the highest elevation then subtracting the lowest to find elevation gain. This is useless for a hiker as there are very few hikes that have a consistent climb with no ups and downs along the way.

Here is the hacked up profile of this hike:

Untitledvertical profile

The long feature-less parts are due to me editing the file for use in a map pack. There were a bunch of ups and downs through them. It turns out that there is about 1.5kft of gain one-way, and about 2.5k-3kft total. It is nothing like the 300ft of gain round trip that was advertised. The Trail is about 13mi each way- more if you get lost like we did 🙂 I am happy that we hiked it, even with the added elevation gain!

After 4 hours of driving, lots of speed traps, and one of the oddest drives to a trailhead ever (you drive through what looks like a parking lot of a trucking company) we started the hike. It was raining for the first hour of hiking but that died off fairly quickly. The rest of the day was full of clouds- but no rain thankfully.

As we hiked, we learned how well this trail is signed and became accustomed to the easy navigation even with the less traveled trail. Our main map was picked up at the trailhead and proved to be incredibly valuable as there are pretty terrible maps online that are near-impossible to use for navigation.

Follow these and you will be (mostly) OK:

DSC05144edsml

The keyword that you should have become concerned about was “mostly” as there is a critical turn that is unsigned and brought us to our first mileage-boosting alternate path. When the trail goes straight for the train tracks (downhill) there is a fence that you have to turn back up the hill at- if you miss this… you have a long walk ahead of you.

I can provide people with the route(gpx)- and will include a shot of it at the end for future travelers to make it easier to follow.

DSC05135edsml

This trail reminded me of the PCT as it was fairly easy terrain and it was fairly open and desert-like. I enjoyed the feeling of having a full pack on my back while my feet pounded the earth. The Lakes that were once found here are no longer around- from what I understand, the farms in the area drained them as they needed more water. Seems like it was a temporary fix as there is nothing left to drain besides this one spring that had a slow but steady output of water.

DSC05136edsml

One of the oddities of this trail is the large number of dead things. Skeletons are everywhere here- some were deer, most were from cattle. It felt like an elephant graveyard at times- minus the elephants of course!

DSC05142edsml

There were also numerous farming artifacts that died a long time ago:

DSC05160edsml

Hopes and dreams seem to have gone the way of the dodo:

boatpanosml

Judging by the massive number of beer cans found laying around one can only assume that brain cells died here too.

There is plenty of life here- we saw a herd of deer, a coyote, tons of beautiful songbirds, and a bunny. The geologic formations are impressive to walk through and I find myself always wondering what it was like when the massive flood from Lake Missoula came barreling down through this area.

Overall- this was a great hike for me as I wanted to get some miles under my feet and the clouds made for an easy day with perfect temperatures for a good workout.

As Promised- here is the trail map:

Official Trail

If you decide to go- be sure to bring all of the water you need as the lakes don’t exist anymore, and even if they did… I would be hugely concerned about the cow poo contamination levels. Be sure to look out for rattlesnakes on warmer days as there is a good chance you will come across one and as cuddly as they look- it is best to keep your distance. I hiked with a full pack on this as I wasn’t sure if we would end up camping along the way. Keep your eyes open and make sure that you follow the actual trail and don’t take one of our many detours!

Happy Weekend everyone!

Goat Lake

After originally planning a trip to enjoy the desert side of Washington, I learned that the weather was supposed to be nicer on the West side. We figured that there was no reason to drive for longer for a colder hike- so we happened upon the Goat Lake page on WTA. It looked nice- so we went for it.

Untitled_Panorama1edsml

This turned out to be a good idea as the lake was quite pretty on this partially cloudy Winter day!
DSC05620edsml

The waterfalls were nice along the way as well- we came up via the lower trail and returned on the upper trail- which made the trip about 11.5mi total. The hike was much more interesting as we did not have to backtrack on the trail to get back to the car and gave a different perspective to the view.
DSC05633edsml

This is the route:

map

Hope everyone had a good weekend!