Burroughs Mountain

With the weather being so nice for the last week, I decided that Saturday would be a great day for a hike. I was initially planning on doing a solo hike up in the North Cascades–I’ve been wanting to do Cascade Pass for ages–but, of course, there was nothing but light rain and fog when I got up at 5:30am on Saturday. Not wanting to drive 6 hour round trip for a hike without company or a view, I shifted my plans and drove down to Mount Rainier National Park instead. Pro tip: If you’re as bad at directions as I am, download an offline map of your hiking area prior to leaving. I was so glad I had done so for Burroughs Mountain because I got lost, ended up in a campground 20 minutes away from the Sunrise parking lot, and had to backtrack. Luckily, I had left early enough that I ended up at the lot by 8:15am and it was still nearly empty.

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Chenuis Falls (Mt. Rainier National Park)

My family was in town last weekend, and we ended up going down to Mount Rainier National Park for some much-needed time outdoors. We were initially going to hike up to Tolmie Peak, since that’s one of my absolute favorites in the park, but I didn’t plan ahead and we discovered that the last 5 or so miles up to the trailhead are closed off until June 28. The nice ranger at the turnaround point estimated that we could make it to Tolmie Peak and back to the parking lot in about 8 hours, but none of us were quite up to that challenge at 1:00pm in the afternoon. Instead, he gave us a map of the area and pointed us toward the Carbon River Ranger Station, where they suggested the 8-mile out-and-back hike to Chenuis Falls. We arrived at the trailhead around 1:30pm, and while there were a decent number of cars already parked, we saw plenty of open spots left as well. The bathroom there is standard, but clean enough. Don’t forget your parking pass (you can either use an America the Beautiful pass or the Rainier-specific one)! 

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Hiking Kauai’s Kuilau Ridge Trail

When we decided to plan a Memorial Day weekend trip to Kauai, one of the first things we knew we wanted to do was find at least one of their famous Garden Island hikes. Since we were going to be in Hawaii for 5 short days (really, 4.5 if you take travel time into account), there was only really time to choose one hike to fit in with all the other things we wanted to do on the island. In the end, despite all our research on the varying levels of difficulty, the best hikes for different weather conditions, and the easiest trails to get to from where we were staying in Kapa’a, we ended up choosing Kuilau Ridge Trail. We opted to leave Kapa’a around 7:00am and arrived at the trailhead around thirty minutes later. The trailhead is clearly marked, but comes up fast on the right side of the highway, if you’re coming from Kapa’a. There’s only room for perhaps 5-6 small cars at the trailhead lot, and there were already at least 3 when we arrived.

The start of the trail was very muddy and slippery, made worse by the 80% humidity the day we decided to go hiking. There is a sign near the beginning calling for hikers to look Continue reading

Mailbox Peak

This weekend, I broke the (very) long streak of not hiking over the winter months and went up Mailbox Old Trail again. Boy, I am not in nearly the same shape I was when I went up the first time–it kicked my butt! There’s definitely still enough snow at the top to make the last scramble a little difficult without crampons, but we made it work. The forest was gorgeous and the air was crisp, and it made me remember just how restorative being outdoors can be for my mental health.

Anyway, legs are still sore and I’ve gained some motivation to get back in shape–I see more cardio and stairmaster in my future. Cheers!

Mount Rainier National Park

TLDR: Hiked with my parents, had questionable weather, mom attacked by a dog, made the weekend fun anyway.

This weekend, my dad and I decided to meet up in Ashford and do a few hikes near Mount Rainier National Park. We ended up convincing my mom to join too, and we rented a very cute Airbnb about ten minutes away from the Paradise side entrance. The plan was to hike High Rock and either Comet Falls or Pinnacle Saddle on Saturday, then drive through Mount Rainier National Park on Sunday and stop at various viewpoints on the way to and from Paradise Inn. Of course, things don’t always (ever?) go the way you plan.

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Mount Pilchuck

The forecast said clear(ish) skies yesterday, so I made plans to check off a bucket list hike: Mount Pilchuck. Of course, this meant that the morning was full of cloudy skies and heavy rain. Despite being of the big names out here in the Pacific Northwest, Mount Pilchuck is far enough away from the city that it isn’t always overcrowded on the trail. The hike is less than 3 miles up, but comes with an elevation gain of almost 2500 feet and it has some of the most unique footpaths of any hike I’ve done so far.

The Drive There

The first five miles to the parking lot are very potholed and took a fair amount of maneuvering, although I’m sure a low clearance vehicle would be able to (slowly) make the drive up to the top. The last couple of miles are very well-paved and lead up to the gravel parking lot–there were only a handful of cars when we arrived around 8:30am.

Other things to note: This parking lot requires a Northwest Forest Pass, and it should be noted that there are no day passes available at the trailhead. The vault toilet at the parking lot is so clean!

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Ensign Peak – Salt Lake City

Here are some pictures from Ensign Peak, the very short 0.8-mile round trip hike up to the famous hill where Brigham Young and his crew surveyed the valley and made a plan for the city. From our Airbnb downtown, it was only about $8 to take a Lyft to the trailhead in a very residential neighborhood. It’s only a 350-foot elevation gain to the top, but since the trail starts at over 5000 feet elevation, you get pretty spectacular views of the valley below. Although there were quite a few people on the trail and enjoying the views from the top, it wasn’t overly crowded. It was a perfect place to see the sunset (and, had we stayed a couple more hours, I’m sure it would have been a great place to see the stars).

 

Colchuck Lake

Last weekend, I was able to spend the weekend in a tiny house with some great people near Leavenworth, WA. I won’t go too much in depth about tiny houses, but here are a couple of pictures!

The trail starts off with an easy walk through a dense forest. We passed some neat boulders along the side of the trail, and we were never too far from running water. About 1.5 miles in, we reached the first real bridge, which crossed over the creek in the picture below. After the bridge, the hike became noticeably more difficult and we stopped more often to drink water and catch our breath. When we reached the fork, we followed signage to Colchuck Lake–I will definitely come back to do Stuart Lake someday! The next bridge we crossed next was very narrow and led to a large hill made of boulders. At first we thought it was a scramble, but luckily the trail curves around the base of the rocks, along the water. Continue reading

Hamilton Mountain

I decided to try Meetup for the first time following my last (failed) attempt, when I ended up on the wrong hike. This time, I was going with a small group down to Beacon Rock State Park on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. From our meeting point (transit parking at Tacoma’s Discount World), it took us about 3 hours to the trailhead parking lot. When we arrived around 9:30am, the first parking lot was already full. Luckily, there is a second, larger parking lot 0.1 miles up the hill from the first and we found many open spaces there. The road is well-paved and the parking lots are easy to access (and both have restrooms). Discover Passes are required to park in either of the two lots available near the start of the trail.

The start of the trail is wide and flat, and for about a mile it’s a very easy jaunt up to the turnoff for Hardy Falls. The trail down to the falls is steep and unfortunately, the falls were only a trickle this weekend–they might have been more impressive a month or so ago. Once back on the main trail, it’s a short distance to Rodney Falls and Pool of the Winds, which were much more unique. The Pool of the Winds (pictured here) requires you to climb up a rocky area at the fork, and there are guardrails for safety along the side of the edge. I saw several hikers debating whether or not they wanted to take the detour, and I made sure to let them know it was worth it (and that it was short!).

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Ira Springs Trail

I haven’t had a lot of time to hike over the past few months, so when a long weekend came around, I was more than a little excited to hit the trails. Since I was hiking this one alone, I decided to do a hike with fairly steady foot traffic and went with Ira Spring Trail, an out-and-back trek along the I-90 corridor. Recent trip reports indicated that I could leave my microspikes behind, and so I packed my bag with the usual: first aid kit/survival tools, an extra layer, water, snacks and my camera. I met a friend for breakfast before driving out to the Ira Spring trailhead, so I didn’t end up getting to the lot until after 10AM. A big thanks to all the people who worked on the road leading up to the trailhead–there were hardly any potholes, and it was a pretty smooth drive all the way up.  There were already too many cars in the lot, so I parked 0.3 miles up from the trailhead on the left/drop off side of the gravel road.

The trail from the parking lot starts off very flat and wide, an easy walk for over a mile. Almost a mile in, I crossed this waterfall, which apparently used to be a creek crossing before they built the bridge in the picture below. Had the bridge not been constructed, I doubt I would have attempted to cross on my own. Around 1.5 miles in, there’s a clear trail leading up where the “real” hiking begins. I was unprepared for the trail to be as relentlessly steep as it turned out to be! It actually reminded me of Mailbox Old Trail, albeit much more maintained. I leapfrogged with several groups of hikers on my way up, and many faster parties passed me on the long incline.

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