Bay View State Park, Skagit Island, and the SVT

Another break in on-call duties allowed me to run off into the lovely resources of Washington.

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First off was Bay View State Park- this was primarily found as we wanted a staging area for the launch to Skagit Island for the second night. I was happy that it turned out to be so nice looking! The campground is a very short walk away from the beach (which has a good view of the sunset). If you want to go but are unsure if you can live in a tent- they have some fantastic cabins available for rent and are fairly reasonably priced too!

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The following day we woke up early so that we could get some coffee before paddling to Skagit Island for a night.

After a previous expedition to this small island that turned into a verbal fight between myself and people who miss-understood the concept of the CMT guidelines of no powerboats for CMT campsites- I was on edge as I really didn’t want that to happen again. Luckily we were the first islanders for the day and got the best site.

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The whole island had exploded in flowers- something that I had never seen before here as I normally visit in Later Summer/fall time. It was fairly obvious that the island has not had many visitors yet this year.

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The beaches look white from all of the sun bleached shells that litter it. Makes it seem more like a tropical island.

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The mossy landscape was quite pretty as well- this trail goes all the way around the island and this is one of my favorite sections:

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After some further exploring- we waited for the sun to set the rest of the way by eating dinner with a fantastic view looking towards Deception Pass.

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Once the sun set the rest of the way- we headed out and kayaked with the bio-luminescence (primarily noctiluca). The glow lit our paddle strokes up quite well but the light pollution from the nearby cities still hid the best show. Most places in Puget Sound have a bad problem with light pollution- Hood Canal has been one exception so far in my random night kayaking adventures.

The following morning- we got an early start to try to avoid the worst of the tidal currents (they can get to be incredibly strong out here!)

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The waters were exceptionally calm, we had some issues in a couple places with some strong currents but nothing we couldn’t take on!

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A Selfie with Skagit- my kayaking buddy was kicking my butt and was in front of me by a bit at this time.

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Hope Island- another place that boaters can camp on but I find it is too big to feel like a remote island to me. There is an awesome rope swing which can provide some entertainment if you get the chance to stop there. The trails on this island are nice also- but I find Skagit to be a lot more of what I look for.

After making it home- I decided to see if my sister wanted to do some more leg torture and bike up the Snoqualmie Valley Trail. I partially regretted asking her but I was able to drink enough caffeine to keep me awake and we had a good time- It was nice to be able to work out my legs a little bit.

Then finally, some life news- I found a nice place that I am moving to that will be much closer to work than I live currently. My hope is to cancel my parking spot and either walk or ride my bike to work every day. I need more exercise given my current job- and my tendons are complaining about my recent adventures.

Hope everyone is well!

One year ago today…

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One year ago at 10:00am, I began my journey on the Pacific Crest Trail from the US/Mexico border. I had no idea what was in store for me, and I experiences more rewarding friendships and learned more about life than I had ever dreamed of. I have never regretted leaving the trail since doing so and I look forward to coming back in the upcoming years to continue knocking out sections.

This is how much I have done so far:

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And these are my stats:

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I can’t wait to see what the upcoming sections hold in terms of views, experiences, and more amazing people!

Umtanum Ridge

After making many plans and finding points of failure in each- we decided to try for the Durr Road/Yakima loop starting from Umtanum. We had all gone on this trail before partially but had never continued to the ridge line so we set forth to do a potential overnight. The overnight plan was trashed when large storm clouds came in and we just took a long break to enjoy snacks and each others company.

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Umtanum has been one of my favorite spring hikes for a long time as the valley is full of flowers, butterflies, fruit, animals, ticks, and rattlesnakes. The full beauty is on the verge of erupting but has not happened yet unfortunately. The flowers have just started to show off.

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Further up the trail- you start to see interesting geologic formations. This is Chukar Amphitheater which looks very much like an asteroid hit it. This is the aerial image: https://goo.gl/maps/YtjLF I wasn’t able to find more information on it however.

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The trail is fairly unforgiving and you just keep on climbing. The views along the way were nice, so it was quite enjoyable.

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I set up my tent at the top to fulfill my tent-monster tendencies and become one with the dirt again. After 3-4 hours of sleep- I had issues not taking a nap. The view was quite nice!

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The Ridge has a long road that follows near the top and can be seen going off into the distance. The clouds were threatening us quite well but it did provide quite the scenery!

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This is a compilation of about 20 pictures- the full size is a little over 300MP. I might upload it later so it is browse-able but I do not have enough time to figure out that process again.

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We hiked down as the sun was setting and enjoyed the contrasting colors. The shade made for some chilly hiking conditions but it was a lot of fun! I had hoped to find a rattlesnake on this trip, but we were not very lucky in finding them. I had a lot of fun on this trip and got some good exercise too!

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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!

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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

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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:

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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.

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

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Hope everyone had a good weekend!

All work and some Play makes me… a productive person.

After returning to society, I have learned some amazing things about life. First: you need a job in order to afford some exciting adventures later on. Secondly: Jobs can be a drag. Luckily- I have joined forces with a brain research company and am really enjoying the environment. I talk to people that are incredibly smart, and knowledgeable about brains (which most of you know is something that I lack). My boss is really nice and I am looking forward to working with him in the future, I am happy that they gave me the opportunity to work there.

This blog has been fairly sparse on the updates as I have been having adventures still, but do not have the time after to report my exciting happy times to you all. I hope to keep posting- but we will see what the future holds!

So onto the pretty pictures:

See this:

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This is Not Work:

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Neither is this:

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This is work:

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Happy (soon to be) Monday everyone!

Timelapse Compilation

I have been fascinated by timelapse photography for quite a few years now as I can explore space further with my camera than I can with my humanoid eyes. The different perspective that you gain by watching hours of events in only a matter of a few seconds can lead to magical views as well.

With the recent hike up Granite Mountain for New Years, I was able to add a couple more angles to my ongoing reel of footage. Most of the timelapses happen over the course of 1-3 hours for every shot that is in the video.

The end of 2014 on Granite Mountain

Normally we look back on our year and make bold new goals for the upcoming year. This is the thing to do apparently. I decided that my life is actually going quite well as-is, I am not going to make a goal of beating my hiking miles this year as I don’t think that will be possible but I hope to get out, enjoy life, and explore as much as possible. Maybe my goal should be to take more pictures!

I spent New Years Eve hiking up one of my favorite lookout mountains- Granite Mountain. Over the last few years, I have enjoyed every lookout tower that I have been to and I love learning the history of the dying landmarks. We made it to the top around 12:30 so we missed seeing the Seattle fireworks but people in the valley below were lighting off quite a few (and shooting their guns… which was a little unnerving as we probably made for nice targets on the hill with our headlamps.

So I spent most of the night taking pictures. Here are some of the results:

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Sunrise:

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Moonset:

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Absolutely phenomenal place to spend the last moments of 2014! I felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I woke up to the amazing scenery.

Mount Rainier – Muir Attempt

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The day started out well with about 4 solid hours of very broken sleep. I slept in a house that was full of noises- a clock rang at every half hour which was handy as I wanted to be sure that I was still alive throughout the night and two kitties were ferociously growling at each other. Kitties can be so cute sometimes.

5 o’clock came too quickly and we were out the door at 5:23. Onward we chanted as we frolicked to the nearest 24 hour Starbucks which became the ritual throughout the day. After about 2hr and 30min, we arrived at the gate about an hour early. This was an important step for us because the gates only remain open for 8 hours and we were guaranteed a good scolding at the minimum, and at worst… we would probably be imprisoned. The 9:00 opening time came and went, they were sanding the road still. 10:00 approached and fled the scene as well. This was not good as it takes 30 minutes to get to the parking each way. Time was counting down and it became apparent that it would be impossible to make it to Muir Camp.

10:30: They finally opened the gate and a large row of cars began chugging up the hill. We eventually made it to the parking lot and set forth with millions of other people around us, all starting their trips at the same time. The brave adventurers continued up the mountain with the knowledge that it would eventually end in defeat. We made it to the trailhead, the steps behind the trailhead, and then started walking on the snow after further struggles.

We made it to Panorama Point and decided that the time was dwindling so we had our lunch there. We only eat healthy things, so the peach gummy candy was handed around (don’t let the word “candy” fool you… I am pretty sure they are real peaches.)

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Heading down posed some new problems as the wind swept away the snow, leaving a nice sheet of ice. It gave us some good ice axe practice and I informed one intrepid explorer from another group that if I fell to my death, I would at least yell “as you wish” as I was being ripped apart by my various ice gear.

Finally back to the car… The route down was quite icy and my driving resembled that of a blindfolded drifting champion. It was a great challenge trying to stay on the road when going the speed limit, passing other cars proved exciting as well. There were a lot of steep cliffs, and I only had two snow tires on my car.

But after some stressful driving, and some silent prayers (and gasps from the other occupants in the car) We made it. I put the other people in timeout for all the foul mouthed language that they used in the turns, they should have really put more faith in me (or their chosen deity).

Personally… I blame MTV.

ALSO! I tried a new method of uploading my panoramas… I took a 254MP (yes… MEGA) image of Rainier and uploaded it here: http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/166513 Now you can count how many people were up on the mountain that day :). Let me know what you think- I have never used this hosting service before but it seems to work!