Friday, August 6, 2010

WTA Hike-a-thon Reports, Part I

First of all, a huge, huge thank you to Mike, Kate, Melissa, Duy, and Chris for their amazing generosity in helping sponsor me in the WTA Hike-a-thon! You guys are absolutely fantastic, and I cannot thank you enough. We are six days into the month, and I am at an unbelievable 42% of what felt to me like a somewhat ambitious fundraising goal. THANK YOU!
(Linky at the bottom of this entry if you want to help out, too.)


Technically began on July 31, so I can't count the hike in toward my Hike-a-thon miles, but the hike out was on August 1, and I'll write about it the whole shebang here. Most of our crew left early in the day, but my trusty trail compadres Camba and Jenica were both down for a little bit later start; morning work shifts, errands, etc...these are the same terrific two with whom I'm frequently counting shoe boxes at 7 a.m, so I swear, it's not that we're just lazy bums who didn't want to get up early to hit the trails.

I hadn't backpacked in a long time; the last time was when I was still in school, when I could just borrow gear from Oberlin's virtually unknown Outings Club (translation: tons of awesome gear and gas funds always was great). Fortunately, REI looks out for me, too, and so I was able to rent a backpack for free, and take out my new Half Dome tent for its second outdoors excursion.

The hike up was hot (in Pacific Northwestern, that's 78ish Fahrenheit), but as is always the case with Camba and Jenica, the company was great. I forgot how much harder it is to hike with a giant backpack! Silly me. We got to the lake and didn't see our crew's camp right away, so we asked some other hiker passersby whether they'd seen a group of hooligans, some bearded. They shrugged, said not really, but that there was an inflatable dinosaur with an arrow a little ways down the trail.

"That's probably us!" Cam replied. And sure was. We found our people frolicking by the lake, leaping off boulders into the crystal clear chilly water, making music (leave it to Jeff, Mr. Superhuman Treadmill Climber from my Ragnar report to haul a guitar all the way up the mountain, in addition to his backpack, tent, and other gear), and having a good time.

Jeff leaping into the lake. Kate and I jumped, too.

For all intents and purposes, our group had a great evening hanging out. The weather was muggy but decent. We made food. Mark had brought a portable fishing pole and caught himself a nice big stick. We sat around and drank and sang and generally were merry.

Surprise Lake by twilight.

That's where the good times went downhill. It started raining. It didn't stop. I stayed out of my tent hanging out with Jenica and Cam and Jeff in the rain until late, until all of us were soaked (and, in my case, chilled) to the bone. Got into my sleeping bag sopping wet, slept like a rock, and awoke to Lizzie yelling that there was a chipmunk on my backpack just outside of the tent. Turns out the little bastard had chewed a hole through the fabric of my pack to get at an empty sunflower butter packet and some tiny corn chip morsels. Left the entire back of open trail mix twenty feet away on the ground alone.

The hike out was a foggy one, but an enjoyable one. We stopped on the way home at a tiny little diner (really, just a big table in the front of a convenient store), but they had exactly what I'd spent all morning craving: breakfast food and a chocolate milkshake. I wolfed down a big egg scramble and went home a very happy woman.

Miles: 9ish total, but 4.5 toward Hike-a-thon


This one was just a day hike. I had to work until noon, but Wayne and I took off from Seattle right when I got off. We were on the trail by 1:30 (I LOVE THIS PLACE) and up to Mason Lake a few short hours thereafter. The trail is shared with a large stretch of the Mount Bandera route, which Alan and I had done several weeks ago - though I could already tell my hiking legs had developed some strength since then. I had less trouble on the uphills. The weather was sunny but really hazy; the trail proffers great Rainier views, but the haze was too great to see it.

Instead, we checked out the gorgeous wildflowers along the way - fire weed, lupin, Indian paintbrush, glacier lily, fox glove - and shared great conversation, as we often do out on the trail. Wayne's lived all over the country, but he's been working in the outdoor industry in Oregon and Washington for awhile now, so it's wonderful to pick his brain and hear his stories about various mountains, trails, Northwest icons.

We picnicked at Mason Lake, where I enjoyed the sunny rocks for awhile before taking a long dunk in the lake. Swam over to the other side and back, saw a salamander and a crawfish, and had some tasty snacks before picking up and moving on in our attempt to continue to the summit of Mount Defiance. Somehow, we got off trail in a mini boulder field, and wound up following a narrow, unmaintained trail that eventually led us into a mosquito-infested swamp. Always up for adventure though, we thought to ourselves, Ah, but surely if we just bushwhack through this brush right here, we'll find the trail! And so off we went into the trees and marshes and brush. No trail. But...surely, just over this ridge, we told ourselves. And still no trail.

After meandering off-trail for quite awhile, we finally decided to back track all the way, pretty much, to Mason Lake. There, we figured out where we'd gone wrong and got back on track - but by that time, we were pushing time. We made it up a little more than halfway up the mountain before the clock nabbed us and we had to turn back. "Don't worry, Lady Defiance, we'll return to you soon!" Wayne called out as we turned around and made our way back down.

Drove home into a stunning sunset:

Ah Washington State, how I love thee!

Miles: 9.5ish total

Can you spare five bucks for the trails of the Northwest?

Total Mileage so Far: 14 (of 100!)
Total Funds Raised so Far: $125 (of $300!)

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