Monday, September 20, 2010

Mountain Wanderlust, Part !!

After our 2-day trip to the North Cascades in July (see previous post), I was intent on returning to the area to see and hike the "Best Of" hikes that were above treeline and stunningly beautiful. During the week, when summer had just about faded, we made a beeline for Hart's Pass in the North Cascades, Pasayten Wilderness.

Day One, Tuesday, September 14
Location: Hart's Pass, elev 6,400'
Hike: North on the PCT from the Pass, about 5 miles RT
Star Rating: 5
Camp Location: The Meadows, a mile south from the Pass, in a burned forest with some new growth and wildflowers
Dinner: Palak Paneer with Pilaf
Other activities: stargazing from the "Astronomy Pad" on a high point in the campground

Day Two: Wednesday, September 15
Location: Hart's Pass
Hike: South on the PCT with an off-trail summit of Tatie Peak, 7,400', about 6 miles RT
Star Rating: book says 5; we gave it a 6!
Camp Location: Klipchuck Campground
Dinner: cheese, pesto and crackers, wine (Cline Syrah)
Other activities: watching smoke from a forest fire, celebrating Brian's birthday
Tatie Peak

en route to summit Tatie
burned trees and turning leaves
view from Tatie's summit

Day Three: Thursday, September 16
Location: Rainy Pass
Hike: Maple Pass loop, 7 miles, high point: 6,850'
Star Rating: 5
Camp Location: home, sweet home
Dinner: sandwich and salads at Skagit Valley Co-op, Mt Vernon
Other activities: driving home, sometimes in the rain
view of lakes from Heather Pass

friendly marmot
Azurite Peak and blue skies
view from Maple Pass

berry bushes turning colors but no bears
Rainy Lake with colored hillside

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Forever Young

meadow along the PCT
Back in my twenties, I always felt like the people I hiked with viewed me as "just a kid". They didn't seem to think I had anything of value to add to the group and, to them, all it seemed like I wanted to do was have fun (still true today, of course, life is about having fun). In my thirties, I went on a lot of private (non-organized) trips with friends so there was near-total equality, as either my friends and I were similar in age or my older friend was a love interest who wouldn't dare put me down for having fewer years on the earth.

Now, in my forties, a time when I feel comfortable with my self, my age and my intellectual standing (wherever that may be), I have found the way to stay forever young. I hike with older people so that no matter how much older I get, up until a certain point, I will still be younger than the rest of the group.

I was on just such a hike yesterday with the Snoqualmie Valley Trails Club, a small group of dedicated hikers who go to less-trodden places in the Cascades. I knew most of the other hikers, either from other SVTC trips I'd been on, or from trips in the Mountaineers, where a lot of them either have been leaders or currently lead hikes for both groups. They are good hikers: they move at a good pace, they have years of experience with gear, destinations and natural history and are generally a pleasant group of people to hike with and be in the mountains with for an entire day.

Daisy at Trap Lake

photogenic pika
The hike started at the Tunnel Creek trailhead near Stevens Pass and connected to the Pacific Crest Trail, where we headed south to Trap Lake, one lake shy of Surprise Lake and with markedly fewer visitors.  I had brought hiking poles for this trip, since I have a problem with my knee/hip; many of the other hikers had poles that they swear by to reduce knee strain. I heard a couple of women talking about momentarily misplacing their wallet, only to find it minutes later, like putting glasses on your forehead and thinking you've lost them. I related a story of "losing" my camera, only to find it in its proper storage spot at home. It was only when we neared the trailhead on the return and everyone talked about the various anti-inflammatories they needed to take before the drive home that I realized that, younger or not, I am more like those old hikers than I had led myself to believe. Hiking – the age equalizer.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Interurban Trail Angel

Returning from a very nice loop of Edmonds from home, Becky's chain jammed in between her chainrings and, despite grabbing the chain and pulling desperately, up-ending her bike and yanking hard, she was unable to free it.

Then along came one-handed coffee-drinking casual bike rider guy. "Do you gals need help?" We were reluctant to involve him in the task since it was obvious it would leave him blackened, the same color as Becky's dirty chain. To calm our protests, he stated, "I'm a guy, I'll just wipe my hands on the pavement, no big deal".

For him, it was no big deal. He yanked on the chain, freed it, grabbed his coffee and hopped on his bike and rode away. He didn't hit on us, or hit us up for a "reward". He was just a nice guy helping out his fellow bicyclists.

Thank you, one-handed coffee-drinking casual bike rider guy! You've just made a deposit in the good karma bank.