After nearly an entire year, I finally went hiking. I wish I could say that there was a good reason for not making the outdoors a priority, unfortunately I just let the time get away from me. My dad and I have been wanting to go camping for a while, so we took a long weekend and drove out to Olympic National Park to do some day hiking. I booked a small camper on Airbnb in Forks, WA (although I didn’t realize just how small it would be!) and planned to hit Mount Storm King and Sol Duc Falls/Deer Lake.
Mount Storm King
We chose Mount Storm King for the sweeping views and because the trailhead doesn’t require a Northwest Forest Pass – the parking lot actually requires no pass at all, which seemed to be quite the rarity. We left Forks and arrived at the Storm King Ranger Station around 9:30am. The lot was mostly full, but we were lucky enough to grab a spot as someone was leaving. This area provides a trailhead bathroom and there is a visitor center showing the day’s weather and trail conditions.
The first section of the trail is wide and largely flat, taking you through a tunnel and on to the signs for Marymere Falls. We figured we’d see how we felt after Mount Storm King and then consider going back and adding on the additional couple miles afterward. Oh, how unprepared we were!
After the turnoff at the sign pointing us up to Mount Storm King, the incline becomes much more pronounced and feels pretty similar to Mailbox Old Trail despite the numerous switchbacks. We took lots of breaks to catch our breaths – did I mention I hadn’t been on a hike since last October?! – and were unendingly grateful for the cool weather and shade the trees provided.
Finally got another hike in! This weekend, my parents visited for the first time since the pandemic started and all we really wanted to do was get outside. My mom had done some research and wanted to go up to Whidbey Island and do Ebey’s Landing, regardless of the forecast for Saturday (cold and dreary). First off, let me say that we got so lucky on the weather all day Saturday. Despite the forecast, we had beautiful skies and no rain at all – the sun even came out towards the end of our loop! It was good we brough windbreakers, though, as there were strong gusts of wind that could be chilly without a coat.
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)!
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.
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!
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 →
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.
Over a year ago, I hiked Teneriffe Falls for the first time and promised I would hike it again. Since my dad was visiting this past weekend, I decided to share with him one of my favorite waterfall hikes in Washington. Last week’s weather was such a nice reprieve from the dreary spring we’ve had so far, and my hopes were high that the forecast would be wrong about the weekend (it wasn’t). Luckily for us, we came prepared with layers and raincoats and arrived at the trailhead by 9:30am, where there were only around 10 cars. The new parking lot is one of the nicest I’ve seen, and has completely replaced the old lot, which has since been closed to the public.
Spring is here! I admit I’ve allowed an insane amount of time to pass without going out and hiking, but in my defense I haven’t had a free weekend in what seems like forever. Between skiing, going home to Oregon, catching up with friends, hosting family, and seeing the Olympics in Korea, I have been much too busy to hike over the past few months. Luckily, on my trip down to see my sister in California, we were able to squeeze in a trek up to Bishop Peak. While the out-and-back hike is only 3.4 miles long, it is quite steep and the peak is the tallest of San Luis Obispo’s Nine Sisters.
We started from the Foothill side of the peak, where we parked in a small dirt lot on the side of the road. A huge difference between hiking in the PNW and hiking Bishop Peak was that there were almost no trees. While we had a little shade closer to the middle and end of the trail, the California Oaks were significantly smaller and sparser than I am used to seeing on my hikes. We could see the top of the peak from the start of the hike, and made our way up the initial clearing and eventual switchbacks. The dry dirt path made it easy to slip, and I was amazed to see one brave hiker going barefoot down the trail.
This weekend, I finally made it out for a much-needed hike up Little Si. This was my second time doing this particular hike, and it hasn’t disappointed yet! I chose Little Si for a few reasons: it’s relatively short (coming in at a little under 5 miles round trip), the incline is enough to feel like a workout, and all the recent reports indicated the hike was still snow-free. We arrived at the trailhead around 9 AM and managed to snag one of the last 4-5 parking spots in the small, paved lot at the start of the trail (Note: this lot requires a Discover Pass, and the restrooms at the trailhead are still operational). The first section of this hike is steep, but is short and doable even for those somewhat new to hiking. Once the trail evens out, it’s an easy walk through dense forest and huge boulders.
We had a steady drizzle for the first hour or so, but the trees provided enough cover that we hardly needed our hoods. Luckily enough, the weather cleared up by the time we reached the end of the trail—the views at both the viewpoints were well-worth the last steep push. There were only a few other people when we arrived at the top, where we stopped to take pictures and eat. We didn’t use trekking poles on the way down, but for anyone who has issues with their hips or knees, I would highly recommend bringing them. We saw many more hikers on our way back to the parking lot, and when we got back to the trailhead around 11:30 AM, and the lot was completely full—it’s a popular all-season trail!