In the meantime...the latest in long-awaited hike reports of the past couple weeks...
Not the most spectacular hikes I've done, but the Bald Mountain Trail nevertheless enchanted me and my crew with its sheer solitude. Jenica, Casey, Wayne and I set out for what some of us thought would be a cool summit - but because we did our approach from the Ashland Lakes trailhead, rather than the generally recommended one by Cutthroat Lakes, we wound up just hiking for a long, long time in the woods until the threat of sunset forced us to turn around, still in the middle of the woods, sans summit or views. We at least had a nice day for it, and a pretty lake on the way up:
We also had the trail entirely to ourselves, which amounted to the intrepid Casey having to fend off many spider webs on the way up. We ate many berries, talked music, and shared stories from our disparate homelands of Appalachia, the Midwest, and southern California. Though the hike itself was nothing to write home about, the company was. Again, so grateful for the friends I've made since moving out here. Good people. :)
Total miles: 11 miles
Seyeon and Leo hiking along the beach.
I've been talking about wanting to go out to the coast since I moved here. With that ambition in mind, I took a few days off from work surrounding my birthday last week and, in all the craziness of August, failed to plan pretty much anything. Happily, things worked out all right anyway. I didn't get in the dozens upon dozens of miles I envisioned myself hiking in Olympic National Park, but I did get: amazing time spent with some of my favorite people in the world, a beachside game of Scrabble on my birthday, and my first rain-free camping experience in as long as I can remember (well, it did rain...but only when we were already in the tent, so who cares? At that point, it was just a soothing audio companion to the waves crashing against the rocks thirty feet from our tent.)
There is a sweet loop trail on the coast that Seyeon, Leo, Alan, and I decided to hike and camp along. We had to hike about three miles ("hike"...really, it was an extended stroll through the woods on boardwalks) out to our campsite, an amazing spot right next to the water.
Camp: Leo making dinner, Seyeon tending the fire, Alan off searching for firewood, and me predictably behind the camera lens.
The Washington coast is far more rugged than most coastal areas - lots of jagged rocky outcroppings, far less developed, i.e. quite isolated and wild. I definitely want to spend more time exploring it. After an evening of drinking hot cocoa, inhaling s'mores, talking politics, and telling ghost stories, we retreated to our respective tents. I woke up before anyone else and decided to seize the opportunity to go for a little solo birthday morning hike. I walked out quite a way on the beach and found myself a nice big boulder amidst the tide pools to listen to the sea lions, watch the birds, and wish the darned sun would come out. It didn't, but I still felt perfectly content.
A good start to a new year in my life!
When I got back to camp, Alan woke up and joined me for morning stroll #2. We walked out to a cool little island that I believe is only accessible at low tide. There, we watched the waves and speculated about the array of strange objects washed up on the beach. Returned back to camp for a long, lazy day at our campsite, spent drinking more hot cocoa, stirring up our fire again, and playing some Scrabble oceanside.
I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my birthday.
Total miles: 11.5 miles
This was a seriously rockin' hike. Alan and I car-camped at the national park's Heart o' the Hills campground the night before, slept in, and got up to Hurricane Ridge by late morning to start our generally unplanned trek.
Alan and I outside of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.
At a park ranger's suggestion, we began our amble along the Klahhane Ridge trail, which was paved for a short bit, albeit ridiculously steep and at elevation that made the climb seem much more intense than most of our typical hikes. The pavement and national park crowds quickly and drastically thinned out as we climbed, until finally we pretty much had the largely exposed ridge trail to ourselves.
Although the elevation made it a challenging one, it was a stunning, stunning hike. Sunshine and mostly clear skies proffered spectacular views on both sides of the ridge - on one side, Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Canada visible, and Mount Baker poking through a thin line of clouds...on the other side, a panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains, way more up close and personal than is visible from my beloved home city. No photos will do it justice.
All the wildflowers and wildlife - friendly deer + even friendlier marmots - were icing on the cake.
Total miles: 10 miles
I'm sure I've said it before, but I really, really mean it this time: this was the most gorgeous hike I've done in the Northwest. At the recommendation of a new hire at work whom I was helping train last week, I gathered five friends this past Monday and made the epic trek up first to Rachel Lake, a sometimes gentle, sometimes brutal 4-miler up, then even more brutally upward to scale a ridge and drop back down into the Rampart Lakes basin - a truly magical little hideaway in the mountains, isolated, and pocked with crystal-blue, shimmering mountain lakes. I've been doing a lot of alpine lake hikes lately was, I'm ashamed to say, beginning to feel sort of like "Ehh, once you've seen one mountain lake, you've seen 'em all" - until this hike.
Alan above Rachel Lake on our hike up to Rampart Lakes.
Alan and I were both disappointed as we reviewed our photos later, because somehow more than usual, they completely and utterly fail to convey the majesty of this place. But so it goes. That's, I suppose, why I go outside and hike instead of just admiring the photos in the guidebooks.
The coolest part of the day? At Rachel Lake, as we were all doubled over catching our breath, already massaging our exhausted quad and gluteus muscles, we ran into a 90-year-old man who was hiking with his dog, Dusty. Really friendly guy, who told us that every year, he's worried it'll be his last time getting to see Rachel Lake - but so far, so good; what an inspiration!
Total miles: 12 miles
Total Mileage so far: 74.5 (of 100)
Total Funds Raised so far: $210 (of $300)