Archive for 'Adventures'

September 14, 2014

A blue sky forecast, need for fresh air, and a finished kitchen combined for a late decision to go camping for the weekend. Looking for a combination of mountain hikes, lots of campground options (for those lacking reservations), and some water to fish, we settled on the Mountain Loop Highway between Granite Falls and Darrington. New to us, the Mountain Loop Highway delivered this weekend.

The happy hiker, always shouting “more, more” in my ear while climbing.

Reflections on Independence Lake before the sufferfest began.

This is why my calves feel sore today. 35+ pounds of kiddo and stuff, with 1200′ of climbing straight up the mountainside.

Fall light catching some trailside webs.

Rest-stop overlooking North Lake. Thea discovers the huckleberry motherload!

Getting to be a pretty good hiker on her own now.

Step 1: Harvest huckleberries.

Step 2: Squeal with delight.

Step 3: Eat all of the huckleberries.

Lounging around this morning at camp.

Helping dad with some fishing.

Sunday hike to Big Four Mountain’s Ice Caves. A pretty short hike, but perfect for the day. The caves are sculpted out by water falling from up high on the rock cirque.

Enjoying the cool breezes at the mouth of the caves.

Very cold and wet inside, so this was as far as Thea got, while Lulu and I traded off to explore and take photos.

Closeup of a thin wall between two sections.

Not bad for a quick weekend adventure and first exploration of a new zone!

  • Open says:

    Very cool night shot. Before I read the text beneath the photo, I was tnyrig to figure out how in the heck you were able to get a long enough exposure in broad daylight to blur the clouds that much! I was initially thinking f/32 at ISO 50 with about a dozen ND filters stacked on top of each other. I’m glad to see that I wasn’t totally crazy. There must have been zero wind because the trees appear so sharp. Very nice job.

We’ve been eager for a while to take Thea out camping. For all of our own adventures and time spent living out of tents, it’s amazing that it could still come with such apprehension. I like to think that we’re easy-going, adventure-ready parents, but the idea of camping with an 11-month old still puts that to the test a bit. Not quite sure what to do with eating dirt all the time, or whether she’d sleep in the tent, or what all to prepare, we just decided to bring everything and go for it. Backpacking this would not be, and I was really hoping that if things went well, we’d go for two nights. At least two nights might help justify the sheer volume of stuff that we brought with us! We took off early Friday afternoon, packed up the car and Thea, and were the last car pulling onto the ferry across the sound, watching them pull the gate closed just behind us. Mini-vacation time was on! Paolo, Amanda, and Jaclyn met us Friday evening at Clallam County Campground outside of Sequim, and we had a great weekend exploring Dungeness Spit and the surrounding trails.

In the end, it all worked out easily. Thea taste-tested a lot of the rocks, but we kept her out of the firepit and didn’t worry about the dirt. She was a great camper, loved crawling all over the ground, ate with us out in the open, and slept great in the tent. Three days later, we had a camper on our hands, and an exhausted baby that slept really, really soundly Sunday night after all the excitement at the end of the weekend. More adventures to come!

All smiles for a sunny Friday on Puget Sound.

Thea, super happy in her outdoor dining perch.

First night’s sunset over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the Olympic Mountains on the left.

Beautiful evening on the trails.

Ready to play in the dirt and taste-test all the rocks.

Pine-fresh baby.

Thea’s buddy Greta.

A delicious spread for breakfast Saturday morning.

Dungeness Spit, sticking 5 miles out into the Strait with a tenuous hold against the seas.

Loving the baby backpack.

Picking up someone’s left-behind frisbee.

Ready to slackline already.

Out on the bluff trails for another sunset.

Happy little explorer, happy dad.

April 19, 2014

Today dawned with a 100% chance of rain. Not showers, but full on rain. But with Mom and Dad in town, we figured we’ve give it a shot and make an early run north to the Skagit Valley for the Tulip Festival, which we’ve never been around to see for the last few years. The weather was, well, very PNW. Fifty-five degrees, very windy, and raining. But the tulips were stunning to see, stretching on forever on the big tulip fields beneath the Cascades.

March 24, 2013

The Slot Couloir on Snoqualmie Pass is far from a secret, but it still holds a fair amount of wonder for me. One of the most aesthetic lines in the area, the Slot cleanly cleaves through a massive cliff wall off the back of Snoqualmie Peak. Skiing both north and south aspects, it’s what Charlie termed the Ying/Yang Tour for snow. Today was definitely the entire mixed bag. Starting up Snoqualmie, Matt, Charlie and I were shortly neck-deep in sporty climbing. Yesterday’s sun in the mountains glazed the southern slopes with a slick, breakable crust, making for challenging climbing. Expectations of good snow on the north side kept us moving upward, and we weren’t disappointed in the line.

Matt heading up the Phantom in the early dawn of a beautiful day.

Snack break looking out with Alpental Backcountry in the background.

Looking down into the Slot… just need to mind the giant cliff exposure out of sight to the left on your entrance.

In the gut of the line, ready for leftover powder.

Charlie riding the steep, smooth snow of the Slot.

Matt under the sheer walls of the Slot, headed toward the Middle Fork basin.

Matt heads toward the exit, last climb up held sheltered snow, kind of tease for the descent back down to the car.

There was no avoiding the return to the southern snow on the way out, and we all knew what was coming. Still psyched from the Slot run, the descent down the Phantom became an exercise in comedy, using hyper-exaggerated turns down breakable sun crust on anything in the open. Searching out tight, shaded trees, we found a few good turns, but were mostly happy to make it back out unscathed. All in all, a pretty solid adventure.

March 16, 2013

It might just be my favorite month, for reasons that have nothing to do with basketball.

February 26, 2013

It’s called the perfect crime. Up at 4:00am for the 4:45 park & ride meetup. Ten inches of new snow at the Pass is the cut-off to make it worth it. Okay, maybe it’s really eight. There’s just enough time to make two laps at Hyak. The first lap requires a headlamp, and at the bottom, we usually see the next wave on their way up. The second lap goes all the way back to the car, and with a quick transition, we’re headed down by 7:59. I can pull into the office by 9:00 sharp, change into work clothes – skiing accomplished, no schedules changed, hardly anyone even knows. When someone asks if you’re headed out skiing, there’s a certain satisfaction of telling them you’re already getting back.

Nick embracing the dawn approach.

January 13, 2013

The annual cold-snap, high-pressure event in early January drew Lulu, Josh, and me down to the Tatoosh Ridge in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s a running joke for Lulu and me, that it’s becoming our best place to ski the worst snow. The scenery is awe-inspiring, with dominating views of Rainier to the north, and Mt Adams, Hood, and St Helens to the south. Which makes it a frequent place for a nice walk in the woods, even when the snow’s no good.

This one looked to be different, with four inches of cold smoke sitting dormant for a couple days. Underlying the pristing surface though was the remains of a prior rain event, a hard crust with no bonding between the layers. It looked spectacular; it skied like, well, extremely loud powder with little edgeability. Anyway, still a great day and a fun adventure.

Josh and Lulu, with Mt Rainier in the background.

Josh making loud powder look good. Run #2 in the background.

Lulu making it work.

All smiles on the up-track.

Mid-winter’s steely skies.

December 5, 2012

Quick and simple, but the season is off and running. With high snow line over the last few weeks, expectations were pretty low driving to Crystal Mountain with Nick. There was almost no snow at the base, but a quick gondola ride brought us up into mid-winter. With sunshine, 9″ of new snow, and good coverage up high, it sure didn’t take long to exceed expectations.

Day 1. Check. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

With an old college friend in town a couple weeks ago, we made a desperate attempt to break out of the lethargy of a cloudy Seattle Saturday morning. With a camera at Mount Rainier showing clear skies and a clear forecast, we jumped in the car and made a dash for the Park. Jeff and Sam were in Seattle from Hong Kong, wrapping up a long roadtrip up the West Coast from San Francisco. Hiking out to Fremont Lookout would get us elevation, beautiful alpine terrain, wildflowers, and spectacular vistas of Mount Rainier with a pretty moderate intensity level… seemingly perfect.

The hike and location have a lot of meaning for Lulu and I, as we wrote our vows at the lookout before our wedding in Colorado. It’s a stunning, inspiring view, and one that we love to share with friends and family coming to town. Except that since we’ve been there, every time we take visitors out there, the views have often been left to the imagination in rolling banks of fog. Even with a beautiful forecast, the swirling clouds and winds around Mount Rainier often tease visitors, with the slightest of windows opening up to the mountain, only to close seconds later in a rush of cold air and thick cloud. At that elevation, the trail itself frequently becomes part of the clouds around it. It’s a cool, eerie sensation, but not particularly stunning of a panoramic show-off when you tell your guests, “You wouldn’t believe how awesome the view is from here, I swear.”

Nonetheless, it’s a great hike, and even the fleeting glimpses afford incredible scenery. Sometimes a constantly changing scene affords more wonder than the static vista, and hopefully we still gave Jeff and Sam some of what they were after on their trip.

Mount Rainier starting out on the Fremont Lookout trail from Sunrise.

Wildflowers starting to develop a thick coat over the alpine.

Jeff, Lulu, and Sam as the fog starts to roll in.

The trail remains pretty incredible, even if the bigger views are obscured.

Great to reunite with Jeff and meet Sam as they neared the end of their roadtrip.

Glacier Basin and Frozen Lake with the Wonderland Trail as we re-emerge from the fog.

Ominous clouds, beautiful sunlight, and wildflowers lend to the eerie and constantly changing feel of the landscape at Rainier.

Just to prove to family and friends that yes, there really is a view there, here’s the view from our original hike out to Fremont Lookout. Maybe next time we’ll bring printouts of those shots for guests to bring along just in case we wind up in the fog again ;-)


July 22, 2012

All seasons rightfully must come to a close, and winter in the Pacific Northwest stretched out considerably long this year, particularly given its slow start. With a lot of travel this year, it was especially slow starting for me, shocking one ski partner when I revealed only 4 or 5 days on snow just after New Year. I insisted I’d catch up with him eventually this season, and while it took a while, I finally did. Looking back on a respectable 55-day season, it was the quality of days skied that really stuck out.

For the second year in a row, weather, conditions, and willing companions all came together to close out the season with a climb and ski of Mt Adams, Washington’s second highest peak. A spectacular Cascade volcano, Adams is also a pretty legendary slog. Last summer, Darrin and I blasted out the iconic SW Chutes in a 18-mile, 7500′ day (report here). With a Friday-Sunday weather forecast of blue skies and warm weather, Lulu and I opted to split it up into a longer adventure and do some late spring/early summer camping too.

I’ll let the photos tell the story below, but the weekend couldn’t have been nicer… A dusky evening climb on Friday to a perfect campsite, leisurely but steady climbing on Saturday all the way to the true summit, perfect corn skiing for several thousand feet on the SW Chutes, a lazy afternoon and second evening camping out in solitude on Adams, an easy exit on Sunday down to Hood River for beers and burgers at Full Sail, and an impromptu roadtrip up the eastern side of the Cascades through The Dalles, Yakima, Ellensberg, and back to Seattle.

Mt Adams from Trout Lake, with our line on the SW Chutes seen dead center.

Skinning in to the campsite on Friday evening in the alpenglow.

Climbing high on the South Face, the green fields of summer below and Mount Hood off in the distance. Temperatures were soaring, but the snow stayed great.

Lulu and I on our second Cascade volcano of the year, with Mount Rainier in the distance.

Perfect skiing conditions for July, with St Helens in the distance.

Lulu napping after a successful climb and ski of Adams.

Taken from camp on Saturday night, the sun sets over the Cascade Mountains and the 2011-2012 ski season for Lulu and me. From powder days at Alpental to Jackson Hole with the Lozners, France, Switzerland and Italy on our April vacation, long-admired routes close to home in the Cascades, and several firsts on Mount Baker and Mount Adams for both Lulu and me, it’s been a fantastic season. Time for summer…