Cedar Butte w/ Rick and Derek (7/3/15)

Rick and Derek on the summit of Cedar Butte
Rick and Derek on the summit of Cedar Butte

My brother-in-law Rick Downs is visiting with his family from Chicago and he and Derek and I did the Cedar Butte hike this morning.  Kudos to Rick because he did his best and what more can any of us do?

Rick lives in Illinois, which is Flatland, he travels on business almost every week of the year, and he is not a hiker.  But I picked a hike I thought would be challenging but doable and he came through like a trouper.  He was exerting himself and sweating and working hard – great job, Rick!  And he loved it.

Cedar Butte is about 2.8 miles round trip, and is a bit more than a mile from the parking lot.  So Rick’s total hike was roughly 5 miles.  Cedar Butte is not flat, it is about 850 feet of elevation gain in 1.4 miles, which is more than you will find anywhere in Illinois outside the walls of a skyscraper.

Although Cedar Butte tops out at about 1900 feet of elevation, look at these views:

Summit and sun
Summit and sun
Looking north from summit
Looking north from summit

And from just below the summit:

West view, Rattlesnake Lake
West view, Rattlesnake Lake

And along the trail you can view the Boxley Blowout historical site:

http://www.scn.org/cedar_butte/bb-main.html

Say what?
Say what?

And there is even a marker at the summit:

Here it is
Here it is

And with that it is official: Rick made it to the top, it wasn’t easy for him but he powered through and would love to do more (if he could; Illinois and airplanes offer few mountain hiking opportunities).

Tomorrow, Fourth of July, I am planning another solo conditioning hike up Mt. Washington.  Got to get in shape for another try at Vesper Peak.

Vesper Lake – 6/29/2015

George's panorama
George’s panorama

We planned on hiking to the summit of Vesper Peak but only made it as far as Vesper Lake.  Hot day, extremely challenging hike.  We were eight hours on the trail as it was, so this summit will have to wait for the next time.

This hike was the idea of Darrell Hull, introduced to us by George del Campo and to Darrell I say: good on ya, mate!  This was the toughest and greatest hike of my short hiking career.  The challenge and the views were outstanding.

Tricky little crossing
Tricky little crossing

Part of the challenge was the four streams we crossed; the one in the picture above was one of the easier ones.

Going up
Going up

The trail was not easy; lots of rocks and tough footing.

Steep enough?
Steep enough?

This view looks down onto a section we have just hiked.

As for the environment around Vesper Peak, here are a few samples:

Whaddya think about this kind of stuff?
Whaddya think about this kind of stuff?
The Cascades from The Cascades
The Cascades from The Cascades
Just plain 'wow'
Just plain ‘wow’

Tough as it was, Derek kept on going.  We pushed past Headlee Pass to Vesper Lake and planted ourselves.  But Derek kept exploring:

Derek hiked to the bottom of this waterfall
Derek hiked to the bottom of this waterfall

He came back and took me and George to the upper section of Vesper Lake; note that at this altitude, even on a hot day at the end of June, there is still a little snow and ice:

A little ice in Vesper Lake
A little ice in Vesper Lake

Speaking of Vesper Peak we almost made it:

Vesper Peak from Vesper Lake
Vesper Peak from Vesper Lake

So, all in all, a memorable and totally outstanding day.  We will be back to finish the job and make it to the summit of Vesper Peak.  I predict it will be on a cooler and cloudier day.

A cairn shows the trail
A cairn shows the trail

Update 7/2:

http://www.kurzweilai.net/walking-in-nature-lowers-risk-of-depression-scientists-find-in-mri-study

Evidence that walking in nature reduces depression – I agree!

Another conditioning hike (no pics) 6/27/15

Just adding this for our records – solo hike yesterday, up Mt. WA main trail, down Great Wall.  Rather warm, I sweated like a sweat hog going up, my shirt was soaked.  But Finley stayed with us last night and after the hike I drove to her house to pick her up.

She is sleeping with Granny even as I type.

Tomorrow is the big hike up Vesper Peak with Derek, George del Campo and Darrell Hull.  4100 feet of elevation gain in 4.5 miles and the views are, by all accounts, spectacular.  Let us hope the forecasted thunderstorms do not appear.

6/21/2015 – Mt. WA main trail solo (no pictures)

I was marshaling at the US Open/Chambers Bay all last week and I forgot the camera.  What I did this morning is probably not photo-worthy anyway.  Just noting this hike to support future trips down memory lane.

Derek will understand what I am saying.

1. Got to Exit 38 lot at 6:35 – Father’s Day, I figured it would be jammed.  But I was the first car.

2. Headed up at 6:40.

3. Owl Point at 7:30, that is, only 50 minutes (it is 2 miles from the parking lot).

4. Summit at 8:37 – 1h:57m!

Only 2 breaks from the car to the summit.  3 if you count a minute gathering and stacking rocks to create a little cairn marking the junction of the (what we call) the North Trail and the Main Trail.  I also figured out that there is a better mid-hike break spot than the usual, which is where two large boulders sit in the middle of the trail.  It is fairly level just past that spot and maybe 200 yards past the boulders is a nice view point.  So next time I do this trail, I will power past the normal break point and enjoy the view just a bit farther up the trail.

First one up so I did not see anyone on the way up, perhaps 15 or so people on the way down, including several rock climbers, one of whom was holding a toddler who was not happy and not shy about showing it.   Poor little guy!

Happy Father’s Day to anyone reading this.

Up Change Creek and more 6/14/2015

The Pond
The Pond

Many times hiking around the Mt. Washington area we have seen a pond down in a valley, way off.  Last Saturday we got tantalizingly close but did not get down to it.

Today, our overall goal was to hike up – as in starting low and going high – the Change Creek trail we hiked down last Saturday.  The last (longish) leg of our hike last week was down to the John Wayne/Iron Horse trail via Change Creek.

And one of our side trips was down one of the two trails that lead down to the pond.  And there it is.

We hit Hall’s Point and J’s Landing, both view points, along the way and discovered what appears to be a trail at J’s Landing that goes a long way up one of the spines around there.  Next time we go back we are going to investigate that one.

The morning sun hits it just right
The morning sun hits it just right

As usual, there was no shortage of ‘wow!’ moments, like the nice view above or this one, with Derek enjoying a mini-break:

Derek in a nice spot
Derek in a nice spot

Shortly after we hit the trail we noticed someone who wants it even steeper; note the purple rope you could use to pull yourself up:

Look for the purple rope
Look for the purple rope

Many awesome views around this neighborhood:

Criss-crossed with trails
Criss-crossed with trails
Nice neighborhood
Nice neighborhood

We think we did about 11.5 miles altogether.  Derek naturally wanted to get back to little Cam – who can blame him?

Next week I am going to be a marshal at the US Open in Chambers Bay, just barely south of Tacoma.  My shifts are one Monday, Thursday, and Saturday.  I have the other days to hang out at the Open and spectate but I just might drive north for a little hike on Wednesday.  I don’t want to get out of shape for what promises to be a super-steep on on Monday, June 29 to Vesper Peak.

 

Introducing Camden Rhys Swanson – 6/8/2015 (updated 6/11/2015)

Dad, Big Sis, Baby Camden
Dad, Big Sis, Baby Camden

Derek and I were going to do Kamikaze Falls today and normally I would be disappointed with a cancellation.

But not this time – Camden arrived last night and what a thrill.  Fin stayed with us last night and is asleep even as I type.

So Grampy is going back to bed to dream of future hikes with Fin and Cam.

Update 6/11: Cannot help but add this pic

Big Sister and Baby Brother
Big Sister and Baby Brother

Change Creek and much more – 6/6/2015

Ho hum ,just another view of Mt. Rainier
Ho hum ,just another view of Mt. Rainier

Our hike yesterday was just a bit more than 19 miles with something in the neighborhood of 6800 feet of elevation gain.  Our goal was to use the Garmin to map Mt. Washington and its neighborhood – well, as much as we could in one day – and in that we succeeded.

In outline we:

1. Summitted Mt. Washington via the same trail we took on Thursday, the one that starts at a pond and ends with a mad trail-scramble (as compared to the various rocky scrambles in the area).

2. Went down the main trail to the Great Wall trail and then up to the summit again, this time via that trail.

3. Went down the Great Wall trail to yet another trail, up to the summit of Change Peak.

4. And then back down the Great Wall to the junction with Change Creek trail, and from there back down to the John Wayne/Iron Horse trail, which is about a mile east of where we hit the trail to begin with at 5AM.

It was about 3:30 PM when we returned to the car, for a ten-and-half hour hike.

Fun!

We have talked about Mt. Washington so much, would you like to see what it looks like from the Great Wall trail, heading (right in the picture) towards Change Peak?

The actual Mount Washington
The actual Mount Washington

Right in the middle of the mountain is a light-colored area with few trees and if you look closely you can see a sliver of trail going up and to the right.  That is part of the main trail and it switchbacks up to the summit a few times from where you can see it in the photo.  The second time we were standing there we saw hikers going up.

A little farther down this trail is Change Peak, our goal after summitting Mt. Washington twice.  Since we were at about 3100 feet when we took this picture, the peak doesn’t look very tall, but the GPS told us it is about 4300 feet at the summit:

The next Peak - Change Peak
The next Peak – Change Peak

One of our landmarks on the Great Wall is a rocky prominence that, Derek discovered last Thursday, has a little cache object (a plastic box) on the top, semi-hidden.  I suspect we stumbled across a geocache (Google it if you are curious).

Here is a picture of Grampy Joel on the top, reaching for the cache to leave a souvenir for the next explorer:

Reaching for the secret cache
Reaching for the secret cache

To reach Mt. Washington summit from here, keep going straight, turn right at the logging road intersection, and when you reach a trailhead that looks too steep and too unmaintained, that’s it.  It’s a 30 degree grade for 900 feet to intersect with the main trail, just a few yards from the summit.

By the way, since Derek was the first of we two to climb this little pile of rocks, he is on the hook to name it.  As of 6/6/15 he is still considering it.

And here is the neighborhood of many of our other hikes, including the one we plan for Tuesday, June 9, looking north from around the corner:

Context
Context

Little Si is out of the picture to the left; Mt. Si/Haystack on the left; then two peaks that represent a ridge between Si and Teneriffe; then Teneriffe.

On Tuesday we are going to pretty much go straight up Teneriffe via the invisible trail just to the left of the first taller (actually, just closer to the camera) tree starting in the center of the picture.

The Change Creek trail was new to us and because it is twisty and turny we were a little tense that we were going to head back to John Wayne/Iron Horse but suddenly our goal was in sight and our fears of having to backtrack seven miles disappeared:

Nearing the end: John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail
Nearing the end: John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail

All in all we had a terrific hike.  Just over 19 miles on the GPS.  Ten hours and thirty minutes by the watch, and for our Boeing On The Move calculation that counts as 630 minutes @137 steps a minute.

Tuesday is the Kamikaze Trail to the summit of Mount Teneriffe on two days of leg rest so I am – except for a pending trip to the off-leash dog park with Jan and Lili later – a couch potato today.

 

New trails on Mt. Washington – 6/4/2015

In the clouds
In the clouds

As much as we love discovering new hikes, there is something utterly compelling about learning more and more about otherwise familiar territory.  Mount Washington is our exploration laboratory.

On this hike, we started on the main trail, passed the Sallus View and Great Wall detours and hiked up to a pond where, we had noted, the main trail switchbacks up but a side trail loops up the west side of the mountain.  Here is a view of that spot with the western trail behind the camera, the main trail coming up and switching direction:

Main trail is the switchback
Main trail is the switchback

This led us to some amazingly steep sections.  Hand-over-hand for at least 1/4 mile in one spot.

We had been coached on this by a man we have now run into twice.  We do not know his name but hikers in this area owe him a big debt, as he regularly (perhaps every day!) scours these trails for overgrown branches, which he trims, and new routes, which he marks:

Helpful pile of rocks mark the trail
Helpful pile of rocks mark the trail

Anyway, we absolutely loved this route to the summit and are going to do it again on Saturday, 6/6.  (we changed our plans because of the projected 85+ degree heat we will defer our 31 mile hike to a weekday, and one that is cooler).   On Saturday we will have no real time constraints and we will have the GPS device to map all the main trails.

Here is one of the scrambles, this one to the summit of what we are calling Change Peak, which is also known as East Mount Washington:

Is it redundant to say: don't slip?
Is it redundant to say: don’t slip?

The scenery around there is outstanding:

Tree with view
Tree with view
Beautiful little scene
Beautiful little scene
Civilization and its discontents
Civilization and its discontents

We did about 12.5 miles in 5 hours and 40 minutes – not too bad considering how steep much of it was and the time we spent scrambling up rocky challenges.

Derek found something like a geocache on the top of one of our landmarks and we are both going up there Saturday to leave a present for the next explorer.

A future hike: 6/29 Derek and I are going to hike with George del Campo and Darrell Hull up to Vesper Peak.  Should be fun!

Hiking in the ‘hood – 5/30/2015 (updated 6/1/2015)

20 Miles of Trails near Derek's house
20 Miles of Trails near Derek’s house

On the one hand, Derek, Jill and Finley definitely live in a city, the city of Snoqualmie.  It has its own Champions Tour event (the Boeing Classic), a nice downtown, an older section of town with a railroad and on and on.

It is civilization.

But the view from their balcony shows how close they are to the Issaquah Alps, although yesterday the best view was obscured by the morning marine layer.  You can see a corner of a mountain in this view:

View from Derek and Jill's balcony
View from Derek and Jill’s balcony

Saturday the 30th we had time constraints so all we did was walk out his door about 7am and did an almost 3 hour hike.  There are so many trails in their neighborhood that it may be tough to choose a route, just like it can be hard to pick your food from a crowded menu.

The views are excellent no matter where you turn:

Lush fairly young forest
Lush fairly young forest
Thick saplings
Thick saplings
Valley view
Valley view

Pretty nice, eh?

We figure we did about 8.5 miles yesterday in about 2 hours and 45 minutes.  We figured this was a training exercise, so instead of pacing ourselves on the steep portions we just powered ahead the entire way.

It was fun.

And we planned our next two hikes.

Next Thursday, June 4, we are going to honor the fact that the new baby’s birth is imminent and that Derek sure needs to be accessible if Jill starts going into labor, so we are “just” going to do another version of the Mount Washington hike.  This time we will, at some point, do the Great Wall trail, but explore a new trail by hiking the Change Creek trail that intersects the Great Wall.

And next Saturday, June 6, we are planning a 31-mile Tiger Mountain/12 peak trek.  At no point will we be too terribly far from the car so it is doable within the exciting baby-watch embrace.

UPDATE 6/1: Derek informs me that yesterday he and Finley and some of her Girl Scout pals hiked 4 miles on Cougar Mountain, with 1,200 feet of elevation gain, and Fin hiked every step!  Kudos to Fin for a great performance.  She may earn a nice reward if she can join us to do Cedar Butte which is, come to think of it, probably easier than what she did on Cougar.

Mt. Si via back door and Mt. Teneriffe – 5/25/2015

disc at summit
Disc at summit

This time we made it to the summit of Mt. Teneriffe, but not via Kamikaze Trail.  We did, however, discover where that trail intersects the main trail, and we chatted briefly with another hiker who had just ascended via that route.  We also explored it from the top for a little way down and decided that, as we thought, it would be a nice way to ascend but we will descend via the main trail.

We got to the Mt. Teneriffe trail head just a bit after 6AM.  We were the first car there.  We went up the main trail, passed the sign for Teneriffe/Kamikaze falls and continued to the Mt. Si summit – just below the haystack.

Derek went a ways up the Haystack but wisely decided to defer the final ascent to another time:

Derek on the Haystack
Derek on the Haystack

As for me, I will let the young and the trained climb the haystack.  It is out of my league.

The trail itself for most of the way is in excellent and recently upgraded shape:

Nice trail
Nice trail

We hiked down from Mt. Si and then across an interesting spur and up to the summit of Teneriffe.  It is a great peak.  Like many of the mountains around here you have to scramble to make it to the very top but this one is doable even for old guys like me:

Final Teneriffe scramble
Final Teneriffe scramble

And the view from the top is awesome!

Mt. Teneriffe summit
Mt Teneriffe summit

Derek at the summit

Derek at the summit

Our maps said we hiked about 15.8 miles, our GPS put it closer to 14.8 miles.  We had thought about extending it to 18 but time was not on our side.

We are planning a 31-miler on Tiger Mountain, tentatively set for Sunday, June 7.  We figure about 17 hours on that one, as it goes up and down 6 mountains twice each.  Fun!  We may do something shorter but steeper between now and then as an extra training workout for our legs.

Looking forward to the big one and to the imminent arrival of Derek and Jill’s new son,  Finley’s baby brother on or about June 16.