Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mount St. Helens

Prior to May 18, 1980 Mount St. Helens was 9,677 ft.  Today it stands at 8,364 ft.  It's hard to imagine the eruption but the damage can still clearly be seen over 30 years later.  We took a drive to see the mountain and to spend some time hiking nearby trails offering several varied views.

Spirit Lake - still filled with logs from 30 years ago

a herd of bull elk - 22 of them!

logging equipment blown off the neighboring mountain (and buried) almost 7 miles away

We have our permits to attempt to summit Mount St. Helens on September 19th.  We hear the view down into the crater is amazing and we hope to see it soon!

We sadly left the state of Washington and are now in Seaside, Oregon back with our pickleball buddies (Alan & Trudy and Sue & Jack and others to join us next week) and on the court again.  We'll be here for 2 weeks then onto Welches, Oregon (very close to Mt. Hood) which will take us closer to Mount St. Helens for our climb.

Til next time...Happy Trails!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mount Rainier - Then and Now

Mount Rainier - Then - 6 years ago in August, 2006 when we summited!

a view of Mount Adams (and Ethan in the background :-) ) - on our way up

Tom & Becky - on the summit of Rainier - 14, 410 ft. - August, 2006

on the way down

Alex (our guide) and Becky - a must deserved rest on the way down below the crevasses

hiking to the right of this craziness!  but isn't it beautiful!

Tom - he looks like a true mountaineer!

Mount Rainier - Now - We didn't plan it this way but we ended up back at this magnificent mountain almost 6 years to the day!  When we first arrived in the area we took a drive to check her out again.  She's still a beauty!

spring flowers in full bloom!

After we quickly decided we had no interest in summiting again, we opted for a 3 day backpacking trip on the north and northwest sides of the mountain (opposite of the side we climbed, for a different view) to a maximum elevation of approx. 5,400 instead of 14, 410!  We hiked along the Wonderland Trail which is 93 miles long and encircles Mount Rainier.  How fun it would be to do the entire trail but we only had time for a small portion of it totaling approx. 27 miles in 3 days.  There is no road leading up to these views!

I was a little nervous on this bridge!

Carbon Glacier

a room with a view (looking out our tent)

where else do you get a view like this from the commode?! (overlooking Carbon Glacier)

Til next time...Happy Trails!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Washington Beauty

A previous post was titled "California Beauty" so I find it fitting to give Washington some credit as well.  We have been blessed by magnificent weather, breath taking scenery and meeting some incredible people.

During our first weekend in Blaine, which is at the very tip of the state next to Canada, we stumbled upon a bike tour which we decided to participate in.  It was called the Slow Food Cycle Tour which started and ended in Chilliwack, BC.  The tour led us through 16 miles of lush countryside to approximately 15 stops along the way at local farms, wineries, produce stands, etc.  The unfortunate thing was the only fruit and produce we could bring back with us had to be in our bellies since it could not go across the border.  We sure enjoyed some along the way!

interesting talk from a beekeeper - those are iving colonies!

since I'm allergic to bees we thought it best for Tom to hold them instead of me!  that his honey in his hands among the many bees - they were busy so they didn't bother Tom if he didn't bother them

Inukshuk the bee keeper built
The mysterious stone figures known as inuksuit can be found throughout the circumpolar world. Inukshuk, the singular of inuksuit, means "in the likeness of a human" in the Inuit language. They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path."

Mount Baker - Snowqualmie National Forest - We've spent many days exploring the mountains in this beautiful wilderness area.  The hikes were challenging and the views amazing!  And let me make it clear that none of these pictures were taken from the car...they were all earned on foot after many wonderful miles!

The glaciers just below Mount Baker

Wildlife!  A mommy marmot and her baby

Mount Baker - an impressive sight

Enjoying the scenery of Mount Shuksan (left) and Mount Baker (right)

Jake - hugging the mountain
Allow me to introduce you to Jake Acton, an incredible guy we met on the mountain.  Jake has such a passion for life and the great outdoors and a truly adventurous spirit.  Check out his blog (click here) to see some amazing photos he takes in addition to a daily song and quote.  He has quite a Bucket List and perhaps we'll even get to check off one or two together when we meet again down the road.  After our brief, but memorable, meeting on the mountain we had the pleasure of meeting another day in Bellingham to spend several hours chatting over dinner, drinks and dessert.  It's so refreshing to meet people like Jake who enjoy life to its fullest.  He mentioned how inspiring we were to him (with what we are doing) but he is likewise inspiring to us with all of the goals he has and the passion in his heart for every moment in life.  Thanks, Jake!

Orcas Island - we took a day off from hiking to enjoy a ferry ride to Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands.  While we enjoyed the brief visit we quickly realized we need to plan a 2-3 day trip to truly check out the island as well as San Juan Island.  We rented scooters to tour around the island and made it to highest point on the island, Mount Constitution, for a view of the neighboring islands and the mainland.

We are now in Monroe, WA approximately 1 hour northeast of Seattle.  We've been hiking in the same National Forest but the scenery is much different on this south side.

As many of you know, last year we hiked to the northern and southern terminus of the AT (Appalachian Trail) as well as hiked many sections in PA over the past several years.  There is a similar trail (but longer and much more difficult) out here called the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail).  Of course we had to seek that out and hike a few miles on it just to say we did.

We met another amazing person while we were on the PCT - Mary Owen.  She calls herself an old lady on the trail but she was far from that with her big pack on her back all by herself after camping out for 2 nights along the trail.  She has biked across the US, hiked and backpacked many places and summited Kilimanjaro in February.  She recently lost her husband and joked how she is cursing him for now making her carry all of the backpacking gear.  We give her so much credit for pushing on and continuing her passion of the outdoors by herself.  She said she may even buy a small RV one day and hit the road!  :-)  We hope to see you again soon, Mary!

Seattle - Of course we had to spend a little time in the big city.  It makes us appreciate the wilderness even more and reminds us how we are country bumpkins!

the next 3 are for you, Mary Ellen...

West Point Lighthouse

Alki Point Lighthouse
We are constantly amazed and reminded how small this world really is.  While on a hike in Wallace Falls State Park today we were talking with a couple and the man grew up in Lebanon, PA!  Unfortunately we didn't catch their names but did get a cute picture of them hiking back down the trail.  Best wishes you two and thanks again for your service in the Armed Forces!

We will be in Washington another 2 weeks and then it's onto Oregon!
Til next time...happy trails!