Mount Si – Social Distancing Edition

We got to go hiking again!!!!!!!!!

 

Effective May 5th, Washington state parks and public lands managed by DNR and WDFW opened back up for day use. Since we wanted to give ourselves the best chance at social distancing, we waited a little over a week from the easing of outdoor recreation restrictions to go hiking (it was an overcast weekday, which helped as well). I chose Mount Si  for several reasons – it was clear of snow, it was a short drive away, and I’d already been to the top and would be much less disappointed if the weather affected the view. I forgot, however, how hard it is, especially since I haven’t kept up a regular workout routine since the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order came out late March. We brought our cloth masks, and overall, people just seemed happy to be out enjoying nature, and at least half of the 76 people we saw put on their own masks as we passed them.

We got to the trailhead around 9:00 am, and there were only a handful of cars already parked. As a note, it doesn’t appear that anyone is servicing the trailhead restrooms – bring your own TP! It took us three hours to get to the top, and I was too tired to do the scramble so we ate coffee cake at lower viewpoint. This was the only time I’ve sat at the top of a hike with no one else around, and it was amazing. When we reached the parking lot at 2:15 pm, the parking lot was only a little over half full. Let’s just say I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see the trailhead as I was after this hike!

 

Oyster Dome via Chuckanut Drive

Two hikes in two weekends! The weather was supposed to be cloudy and rainy on Saturday and nice on Sunday, so the plan was to go to Deception Pass Bridge on Saturday before the rain and Oyster Dome on Sunday for the views. I had never been to Deception Pass State Park, and I must say the view from the bridge is phenomenal. The expected rain never showed up, and the overcast skies made for absolutely spectacular green-blue water that pictures just can’t fully capture.

 

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Poo Poo Point – Chirico Trail

Having had exactly zero free weekends in recent memory to get out on the trails, this past weekend was a welcome chance to get my fix. Although the weather around Seattle has been kind to us during the last few workweeks, Saturday was set to be a rainy day and I wanted to find a hike where a foggy view wouldn’t be a huge letdown. I don’t currently own a Discover or Northwest Forest Pass, so I figured Poo Poo Point would be the best bet (I was also looking for an easy-medium difficulty level, since it’s been so long and I had no idea if my cardio stamina would hold up). One thing I failed to research before going on this hike was whether there would be any water sources along the trail–there aren’t. I’m glad that the hike is relatively short and we brought enough for the two of us.

My father and I arrived at the parking lot a little before 10:00am, and there were still plenty of spaces left at the trailhead. It’s easy to tell where the trail starts from the Continue reading

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).