Joe Abbott's Weblog

Letters home to mom

  • Stuff posted on these days

    October 2018
    M T W T F S S
    « Sep    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Meta

  • Joe Abbott Musings

  • RSS Cat Cartoon w/o the Cartoon

    • Coda
      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
    • December 31, 2011
      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
    • December 30, 2011
      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

Just when you think you’ve had the “last hike” of the season …

Posted by joeabbott on September 30, 2018

… the season just keeps getting longer!

Last weekend Suzy and I took a “final bike ride” of the season but it was so nice, we kept our bikes down from the loft to get out again. After my last hike, I had cleaned up my gear for stowing away until the winter snow set in but we had a forecast for 70°F and sunny skies this weekend, so I got out again! The weather never quite reached 70°F or sunny, but it was a gorgeous day nonetheless.

DSCF2613 Stitch

We headed out to Vesper Peak, a moderately remote peak off the Mount Loop Highway in the middle Cascades. A number of fantastic hikes are accessed via this road and I dream of the day I’ll have more time to explore them all, but yesterday I got my chance to get back to Vesper Peak. While I know that I climbed this peak solo in my youth, so much of the actual ascent of the mountain was novel that I’m starting to question whether I’d actually been to the true summit. Regardless, yesterday I made it!

imageimage

After parking at a busier-than-expected trailhead, we made short work of the obligatory second growth approach and entered a box canyon with fantastic fall foliage popping on every hillside. You head in with Sperry Peak looming above you on your right and Morning Star above and to the left; your objective being Headlee Pass.

20180929_100524

I was feeling super-fit heading into the hike, having kept up my regimen of spinning at the gym a couple days a week and getting out for a mid-week hike on a local peak, but the 4000’ vertical feet of gain in the roughly 4 miles to the top of Vesper had me panting and sweating like crazy. My partner, Heath, was more fit than me … and, let’s be honest, 15 years my junior … so I had my work cut out for me. But, I was happy getting there and we didn’t race. We had plenty of stops and I managed my water well, so I had a great time.

But it was almost crowded on the trail! Part of that may have been the “advertisement” Vesper had received in recent months as a young hiker went missing on this route. She was a solo hiker who had been seen by a number of people as she ascended the peak, but no one saw her descending. And her car was still found at the parking lot. She’d been missing 58 days and it was impossible to miss people were still looking for her.

The people looking for “Sam” Sayers (one article is here) had setup some information at the trailhead, had an established camp at the three-mile point, and a helicopter flew in while we were there as they took trained search dogs out onto a nearby lake in the event Sam had fallen into it. A little sad and somber and while it underscores the dangers of hiking (especially solo), it’s a mystery how she could have so completely just disappeared!

20180929_142446DSCF2628imageimage

DSCF2635After Headlee Pass you transition from steep scree along a bowl to huge slabs of blocky granite, playing a friction game to the top. The going is fairly steep and the footholds plentiful, but a nice, smooth slab might lead you to an otherwise more difficult section. The vastness of the slope makes it hard to put together your route up.

20180929_110203

I chose to hike with my poles and repeatedly was frustrated by that decision. Not enough to stow them on the pack, but each time they skittered off and failed to provide purchase, I was reminded to keep my balance and only trust them when I knew their points were set.

At the top I was greeted by roughly a dozen other climbers and some fabulous views; Sperry Peak standing out the most.

20180929_113854

While Vesper Peak may not be for everyone, aside from more solitude, I can’t think of anything a hiker might want that’s not here. It was simply one of the nicest hikes I’ve done in a while: a lot of exertion, phenomenal views, and a variety of scenes on the way in and up. While I rest my feet today, I’m sure to be looking over my pictures from the outing again and again.

Thanks for dropping by.

Advertisements

Posted in Hiking, Travel | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

One of the best hikes ever

Posted by joeabbott on September 16, 2018

I’ve been getting out with friends annually for the last 25 years and we’ve seen a lot of Washington state, but this year we hit the trifecta: beautiful weather, minimal bugs, and some of the greatest scenery around. The outing came with a few caveats, however: one of our number wasn’t able to join us due to back problems, another hurt himself kinda badly on the trip, and we were in deep forest more than I’d like. That said, this outing is highly recommended for anyone! The trails are well maintained, the elevation gain\loss isn’t bad, and at 19 miles for the core trail it’s not abusively long.

Let’s take a look at the trip!

Salmo-Priest Wilderness

See the source imageLocated in the north-easternmost corner of Washington state, the Salmo-Priest Wilderness butts up against Canada and Idaho. Western weather off the Pacific that makes it over the Cascade range starts to collide with the Rocky Mountains, giving this little corner of the world about 60” of rain a year. By contrast, Seattle, a notably wet place, gets a little less than 40” of rain a year.

Our outing was a five-day affair: camping at the trailhead on Thursday and returning the following Monday. Like a modern day Camelot, it only rained once before the trip ended and that was at night. The first night the evening temps fell into the upper 30°s, I’d imagine (based on the need to constantly bury my face in my sleeping bag to keep it from getting too cold), but otherwise the temps were in the 70°F range during the days and stayed in the mid-40°F at night.

This was a perfect trip.

Route overview

Our outing took us in a loop, starting from Salmo Pass Trailhead and returning to the same place after taking a clockwise route along the South Salmo River, into Idaho, up Snowy Top Mountain, and back to the trailhead along the Shedroof Divide.

Camp 1 is about 6.7 miles in; Camp 2 is roughly 23.5 miles in.

image

While this loop will take you about 20 miles, we added nearly 10 additional miles with our excursions: up Snowy Top, to the burned-out lookout on Little Snowy Top, and some other minor ramblings. That said, stretched over 3.5 days of walking it wasn’t significant. Here’s the profile of our trip.

image

DSCF2406Thursday

The first day was mostly just driving; it’s an 8-hour trip from Seattle. But, the roads were clear, we weren’t impacted by any of the recent fire issues (either by smoke or road closures), and I had good company. At the trailhead we pitched our tent, had a little dinner, and oriented ourselves to the proper trailhead. As we were doing a loop, we left from one and came back on another … both trails leave from the same lot but by going clockwise around the loop, we avoided a stiff bit of climbing out of a valley on our return.

Friday

Friday was getting to camp, which we did in just a few hours. Again, the trails are well-maintained and we lost 1800’ in the first 3 miles, making that a quick bit of work. We had one minor river crossing at the bottom of the elevation loss, hopping the South Salmo River, but our late-season timeline played well for those with good balance, as we were able to rock-hop from one bank to the other. Tim, chose to test the frosty temps of the South Salmo and ford the river. His report: that was cold.

DSCF2413DSCF2411

A couple hours from the crossing and maybe three hours since we left the car, we came to a camp site that we called “home”. It was before noon but it allowed us plenty of time to pump water, find trees for hanging food, setting out a dining area, and generally getting a heavy pack off our backs. This trip was about sharing time with old friends and so we did that … mostly by finding a nice place to read whatever we brought.DSCF2417 Stitch

Later we talked about our jobs, spouses, our buddy back home, and caught up on the happenings in each others’ lives. While we’d all been out together on training hikes, as we’d climbed Mt. Rainier together earlier in the summer, there’s always something new to catch up on.

Saturday

DSCF2438Saturday started out with a bit of a problem. One of our number took an early morning slip and was impaled by a sharp branch sticking out from a downed tree, but we didn’t realize the extent of the problem. He took care of the issue but we had agreed to hike to Snowy Mountain just after breakfast, so we headed up.

At Snowy Top Pass, just before we started up the mountain itself, we took a small break; at that point we realized the injury was worse than we’d thought. As we generally agreed to head back, I ran up a small slope of about 30’ and enjoyed some nice views, to which I beckoned the others. At this point, the injured party said something like, I think I can make it. Which I interpreted to mean “make it up Snowy Top. And so I headed up. He was talking about the small 30’ slope.

I feel quite bad that I made\encouraged an injured person to hike the mountain, but he was game and we all made it to the top and down without further problems. Still, not cool on my part.

DSCF2455 Stitch

DSCF2480On the return to the campsite I got out ahead and ran into a black bear. At that time I didn’t know it was a black and lots of news about grizzly re-introduction going on had me pretty frightened. The bear was hidden behind a stand of trees and he noticed me first, whereon he started huffing and vocalizing his displeasure at my approach. I froze, waiting for Tim and Ron to catch up and, bear spray in hand, we slowly eased past the tree stand to see the bear partway up another tree … and, on seeing us, a whole lot farther up! We continued on and that was the last we saw of bears this trip.DSCF2493

Camp time saw more of the same: Tim and Ron reading at camp, me enjoying my magazine creek-side, and later a nice dinner before calling it a day with some card-playing.

Sunday

Sunday we broke camp and hiked about eight miles total. The beautiful weather made for a nice jaunt and the inclusion of a side excursion up Little Snowy Top to an old, burned-down fire watch made for great interest.

A few yards up the trail to Little Snowy Top we dropped our packs and continued the rest of the way. At the top we saw piles of rusted nails left behind after the wooden shack was burned, blobby glass that had melted in the conflagration, and lots of debris and old pilings where a lookout once stood. After getting back to our packs we put our feet up and enjoyed lunch looking out down the Priest River watershed. Gorgeous.

DSCF2518DSCF2526DSCF2519DSCF2530

According to the route description, we should have found our campsite about a mile past the Trail 315-Trail 512 intersection, but we found the campsites about a quarter mile past that. They were so close to the intersection we continued past them before turning back. It was early afternoon, say 2PM, and we were ready to call it a day. We pitched the tent, Tim fetched water, I scouted a place to hang food, and we all kicked back to await dinner, savoring our final night in this gorgeous area.

Monday

Our final day was a quick one, just about 4.5 miles with our lightest pack yet. I continued snapping pics of the Priest River valleys and Selkirks as we left Idaho, re-entered Washington state, and rambled to our car.

DSCF2554

At the car we got out our traveling clothes, changed, tossed the packs in the car … and it started raining. The perfect end to a perfect trip. Time to head back home.

Coda

I’ll end by simply saying: take this hike. If you can at all manage to get here and put in 20 miles, your rewards will be significant. Take this hike … it’s a beauty!

image

Posted in Hiking | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

There’s a fire a-burnin’

Posted by joeabbott on August 20, 2018

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard of the massive amount of forest that’s burning in the West right now, but it hits home when you see it … or it’s effects … first hand. While I took a lovely stroll up Silver Peak this past weekend, the smoke from said fires obscured all but the nearest views. Just look a few posts back at some of the peerless, blue skies and compare them with these:

DSCF2392DSCF2396DSCF2397DSCF2400

DSCF2403

The air quality index in Seattle is worse than in some developing nations right now; so much so I’m considering against hiking until some of the marine winds return and clear things out a bit. Here’s to hoping that happens soon.

Wishing you all better views and clearer skies!

Posted in Hiking | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

SPOT and GPS interference?

Posted by joeabbott on July 22, 2018

I carry both a SPOT and GPS device when I hike; I’ve never needed the SPOT but it’s good insurance, the GPS has proved invaluable on a number of hikes.

On my last outing, in an effort to find a good place to strap my SPOT, I hung it just above my GPS on my shoulder strap. The SPOT performed as expected for a tree-covered approach … like this:

image

You can see where the trees are. Again, not great but not bad, either … a dozen tracks over 2.5 hours, making it about a track every 15 minutes.  I’d like better but I’ll take that.

My GPS, however … what the heck happened here?!?

image

I have never seen anything like this … it’s just crazy. The prior week I had my GPS but the batteries crapped out after an hour or so on the trail, but it still gave me this path:

image

Same area, same GPS … the only difference I can think of are the new batteries and hanging directly below my SPOT device. I will play with it a bit more to make sure I understand what’s going on, but it clearly looks like the GPS was reacting to something.

If you rely on multiple radio devices, be aware they may experience some interference if you position them too closely together! Be safe out there!

Posted in Hiking | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

A return to the scene–a trip up Snoqualmie Mountain

Posted by joeabbott on July 22, 2018

Weekends come and go around here with both Suzy and I looking forward to a chance to do stuff together; this weekend was an exception. Not in that we weren’t looking forward to some togetherness, but activities would take Suzy to a 5k Run on Saturday and an outing with her Master Gardener friends on Sunday; leaving me to my own devices. But wait … are our weekends ever really that simple? Nope!

The stuff that’s not as fun

Early last week we got a document from the county in which we plan to build our house stating they’d stopped the permitting process due to some irregularities. It was drawn out and a bit emotive but the upshot was that paperwork we’d submitted in January was lost. <sigh> There was some hurry-up discussions with our builder and folks were heading out to our lot on Friday to see about getting the needed tests done quickly; it had to do with our drain field and septic plan. I stayed home from work to jet up there in case I got a call … I got no call.

So, we agreed to jump in the car after Suzy got back from her 5K on Saturday and drive to lot, inspect the work that had been done, and see if anything required our input or assistance. I’ll jump ahead here and say that we did go up, in addition to the two perk pits that had been dug, they appear to have rummaged around those and then dug three additional pits. Suzy and I are perplexed … but had a very nice meal at Playa Bonita before heading back home.

Next steps … not clear. In spite of the delay and aggravation, it does feel like we’ve taken a step forward.

DSCF2242The fun stuff

So, with Suzy getting out with her friends, I was left to my own devices … and what better device than some sweat and a little discomfort in exchange for wonderful views? That’s right, last weekend I headed past Snoqualmie Mountain but didn’t summit the mountain proper. As it’s only 1.9 miles one-way, I decided I’d knock that off. Oh, in spite of being less than 2 miles in distance, you gain 3100’ of elevation; put your mountaineering boots on, folks, this trail’s not for Tevas!

I got to the lot around 6:45AM and it was already filling. The trailhead mainly serves Snow Lake trail, and while Snoqualmie Mountain may see a dozen or two travelers on a weekend, Snow Lake sees hundreds. Literally. And so I parked such that I could easily leave the lot, knowing it’d be a zoo; then I suited up, turned on various GPS and SPOT devices, and headed up.

The trail makes no qualms about ascent from the get go, and while the way is smooth in an un-kept trail sorta way for the first hundred yards, it quickly devolves into a rocky, rooty hand-over fist scramble up. I carry trekking poles so I don’t often need to grab the surroundings, but I did reach for a “green belay” or two on my way up.

While I tried to push myself reasonably hard, I also realized I wasn’t in a race and had nothing to prove … except for the fact that this was only a 2-mile long trail! I could tell time was getting on but my pace was what it was; it seems I’ve lost a little oomph since my Rainier outing. But, I was alone and had some of the nicest scenery and zero bugs!! This was a big improvement over last week; although it was probably because (‘d left a little earlier in the day.

I got in a couple peekaboo pics of the surrounding area before I topped out; nothing fantastic but for just 60 miles out of the city, it’s not bad at all.

DSCF2243DSCF2248

After breaking out of the treeline I spotted a number of colored shirts above me that pulled me on as if I were a scent hound. There’s something deeply competitive in me that I’m not sure I understand. I don’t think it’s a normal part of my character, but get me on a trail and I like to be out front; put someone ahead of me, and I’d like to pass; someone on my tail? Goose it a bit. I find it odd but I’m also finding my days of passing and goosing are not as many as they had been, so I am trying to find pleasure in “being” and “topping out”.

When the trail ends at the top, I was greeted by chill winds that had scoured the remaining snowfields coming off the north slopes. What looks like a small animal track leads off to the left proved to be a trail to another summit that, if higher, was only higher by a foot or so. It was here I found the other “colored shirts”, being six folks wearing climbing helmets and speaking in what sounded like Russian.

They exited the way I came and I was left to snap the below pic. You can see Snow Lake, the destination of many other hikers, just to the right of center. The peak dead center on the right is Kaleetan Peak; the one to its immediate left is Chair Peak; further to the left (although not as prominent) is Bryant Peak.

DSCF2256 Stitch

As I headed back I saw the destination of the Russian speakers: a prominence just off the top of Snoqualmie; it appears a scramble but not a desirable destination. You can see a few of the scramblers in the talus on the way up.

DSCF2261

For me, however, it was time to get back. It had taken me nearly 2 hours to go my 3100’ and I wanted to be sure I could get home before Suzy and prepare for our trip to the property. I grabbed one more snap and then made my ankle-breaking way back down the rocky trail, getting to my truck about and hour later.DSCF2262 Stitch

Coda

The parking lot was the expected zoo; where I’d parked to get a quick exit had been blocked by another row of creative parkers. I flagged a carload of folks and pointed them to my spot but let them know I’d need a minute to change out of something a bit less salt-soaked from my exertion. Another half dozen cars cruised by while I was changing but, quickly enough I was pulling out and replaced by the mid-morning hikers. It still took me some effort to extract my truck from the lot and I was surprised at how a few people had parked, leaving only inches on either side of my mid-sized truck as I pulled out.

With the madness behind me I sipped some juices I’d popped into a cooler and headed back home to enjoy the remainder of the weekend. It tickles me to have the confidence to whip up a plan like this: a goodly effort, a non-maintained trail, a solo outing … I may not be the hiker I used to be, but the education I picked up on the trails in my youth continues to serve me well.

Here’s hoping your adventures prove as sustaining; now stop reading and get out there!

Posted in Hiking, Travel | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The other Green River stuff

Posted by joeabbott on July 20, 2018

I made mention of a few things we saw besides bridges on our most recent biking trip down the Green River Trail … here they are, in no particular order.

BMX Track

A biking company in a business park adjacent to Briscoe Park installed a BMX biking track. I only have a mountain bike so I gave the trails a trial and just about killed myself. I wasn’t going fast but the severe and numerous rises\falls had me feeling out of control.

While having this sort of facility is great, the presentation leaves a lot to be desired. Rather than an enjoyable alternate use for the park, the initial appearance is one of neglect and the dumping of refuse: weeds festoon the perimeter, the track has no shoulder or separation from the land around it, and lack of supporting facilities (bike rack, bench, or shelter) all make this an odd “enhancement” to the Briscoe Park.

WP_20180715_10_02_17_Pro

Sculptures

Somewhere along the way I came across this biking sculpture (picture on the left) … I would have loved to dismount my bike and pose alongside them (it’s the sort of thing I do), but Suzy had put a little distance between us and I was hurrying to catch up!

WP_20180715_09_45_26_ProWP_20180715_09_15_23_Pro

Further south, we came across a bench in the shape of a canoe (picture, right). Various photos on the side acknowledge the cultural debt we have in the Pacific Northwest to some of the First Nation tribes, but I wasn’t able to spend much time looking at them: again, I was lagging behind my biking partner! And, yes, it is a typical trend.

Pruning 101

Here’s a tip: if your tree or bush requires a bit of pruning, do not ask someone from a power line company to help you with that! Look at what they did to this poor tree we saw somewhere adjacent to the trail:

WP_20180715_08_21_59_Pro

Yup, yup … I’m not sure what choices they had but this beautiful, full tree has a quarter of its top removed, making it look super-odd. I was also surprised to see one of the wires still threading through the canopy, but someone told me this was a phone line … and the power company (who trimmed the upper branches) will not tend phone lines; and I guess the phone company doesn’t share the electrical power company’s concerns!

I’m assuming that cutting the tree down was out of the question, as there’s a memorial plaque at its base and a few picnic tables. I really can’t imagine anyone ever having a picnic here, it’s fairly out of the way, but it might make a nice, shady rest. And from the tables, you might not even notice the hack-job done to the tree.

Fore!

I mentioned Julene Bailie in my last post: she’s an author who has taken to watching a family of eagles living above the Green River near this stretch of the trail. Here she is, on the left, sheltering herself from the sun with a shirt she’s draped over her head. She has a camera with a powerful lens, a set of binoculars, and a few other items to offer her comfort on a long day of bird watching. She and I chatted a bit and I could have spent a lot longer with her: she knew the area, the eagles, and was happy to share what she had learned.

The shadows just behind her are cast by a 16’ fence separating the Trail from a golf course that abuts it. A bit further south you see the sign shown below, right, which warns bikers\hikers to “please use caution, errant golf balls may cross the trail.” I’m not sure how much caution I can muster but I’m sure hoping the golfers exercise some!

WP_20180715_09_28_42_ProWP_20180715_09_24_15_Pro

Lovely views

Whether you are looking for river scenery or wildflowers the trail has plenty of both. While some stretches are more wonderful than others, the entirety of the trail seems to have something to offer to everyone.

WP_20180715_08_37_42_ProWP_20180715_08_06_01_Pro

I think it’s an educational sculpture

Suzy and I came across this marker along the trail and I’m not 100% certain I know what to make of it.

The various horizontal markers around it denote a footage and and the words “Flood level”, leading us to believe water had, at one point, risen to the various levels … however, the distance between the bands is not consistent with the difference in the noted flood levels.

There are a number of dots on each pole and lines connecting them; some lines are solid, some are dotted. And some have either dates or words (e.g., “Completion of Howard A. Hanson Dam”) on them. I just can’t put together a consistent pattern to understand what logic they’re using.

Finally, there’s a big arrow superimposed over the four posts that requires you to stand back to see properly. Why it’s pointing north is a complete mystery to me.

WP_20180715_08_42_57_Pro

Coda

That was our trip. While the overall outing was well over 20 miles, it seemed I couldn’t go more than a mile or two without stopping to snap a picture of something; it’s just wonderfully busy with things to look at.

On our next trip I want to take a dedicated camera, as I imagine it’d be easier to grab and shoot, but I would likely risk wiping out or taking a spill into blackberry brambles … and that would not be welcome. So, if you’re up for a good workout, the trail is long; if you’re more interested in finding diversions, there’s plenty of that, too! Thanks to the cities of Tukwila and Kent for keeping this stretch of the Green River Trail in good condition!

Here’s hoping your trails are smooth and interesting!

Posted in Hiking, Suzy, Travel | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Bridges of the Green River Trail

Posted by joeabbott on July 18, 2018

imageOK, the title may prepare you for a comprehensive review but these are just a few of the bridges spanning the Green River that Suzy and I saw while on a recent biking excursion.

Last Sunday, before the heat of a 95°F day set in, we tossed our bikes into the back of my truck, drove down to a parking spot just off the Green River Trail, and headed south. Our destination was somewhere around “where we turned around last time”, but we’re always game to learn some new things so we went just a bit further.

We were on the east bank of the Green River on the way down, but crossed to the west on a pedestrian\cycling bridge just south of the Green River Natural Resources Area (the brown splotch on the map to the right). From there we continued south on Frager Road until that thoroughfare ended, at Foster Park at the extreme south … probably 15 miles from where we started.

Along the way I was taking pictures of anything that caught my attention: a tree that had been curiously pruned, wildflowers, sculptures, and even a bird watcher (Julene Bailie, an author of a number of books about a local family of eagles … see her photography work here). I also found myself snapping pics of a number of bridges.

Some of the bridges were cool, others attractive, and some just utilitarian; but all caught my eye. Unfortunately, I can’t remember and didn’t write down the names or locations of the bridges, so, for now, you’ll just get snaps of a few bridges, my guess at where it is, and maybe word or two of why they caught my eye.

First Bridge

While we navigate under South 180th St bridge before we get to this walking\biking trestle, I’m considering this one the First Bridge. Mainly because we actually used it to cross to the east side of Green River, but also because it’s attractive.

WP_20180715_10_09_36_Pro

Utilitarian Bridge

I think this is the South 200th Street bridge but I only caught a portion of the span … the rest is the same: concrete and straight lines.

Not a “bad” bridge, but nothing to set it apart or recommend it as a destination.

WP_20180715_09_53_50_Pro

Copper Dome Rounds Bridge

This bridge always catches my attention. When I first saw the copper-colored sphere decorations on it, I thought they were copper … upon closer inspection it’s just colored concrete, but it’s a neat feature and makes for an eye-catching motif. While it’s mostly just another big, concrete bridge, the exposed aggregate upper portion does lend a break from the otherwise smooth surfaces.

I’m guessing this bridge takes Veteran’s Drive over the Green River, but I am (again) guessing. It seems right but even with a map (both Bing and Google), I can’t tell exactly where this might be.

WP_20180715_09_36_41_Pro

Green Truss Trestle

We had just turned around and were coming back when we were directed beneath the West Meeker Street Bridge. This fella is a throwback to the past, with little more to see than industrial-green iron beams riveted together. While it’s a bit ugly, the large open areas attempt to make this trestle light and airy; I’ll let you decide if you think it succeeded.

WP_20180715_09_23_25_Pro

Bridge Under a Bridge!

This one has got to be my fave … not because it’s beautiful or well-kept (and maybe a bit of the opposite in both cases), but because it surprised me and gave me a smile. This was the Hwy 516 (also known as the South Kent Des Moines Road) Bridge over the Green River, and beneath the solid car overpass, a bridge for pedestrians and bikers is hung! There’s even a little nook with a bench for sitting down and watching the river.

WP_20180715_08_55_35_ProWP_20180715_08_56_10_Pro

And you can file this under the “why can’t we ever have anything nice”, the seating area was rife with litter, graffiti, and grime … neither Suzanne nor I wanted to sit there. But, she gave me a nice smile as she posed for a pic mid-span!

WP_20180715_08_57_17_Pro

Coda

That’s it … it’s not all the bridges but a lot of them. Some were fun, some were nice to look at, and others just got you to the other side of the river. Thanks for touring along with me!

Posted in Hiking, Suzy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Another weekend, another outing

Posted by joeabbott on July 15, 2018

Yesterday I got out on a hike that went a bit awry. We’d intended on taking a seldom-traveled path to a local, small summit but got high on a rock band and didn’t like our options for reconnecting with the trail. So, we made the most of stretching our legs and seeing some of the untrammeled beauty in Washington near Snoqualmie Pass. It was a good day.

image

Our intent was to bag Lundin Peak from the west; as you can see in the above map, somewhere around SPOT Track 6, we got off course, heading up a shoulder that we never felt good descending. I’m a little annoyed we didn’t turn around immediately after noting our error, but we thought we could easily reconnect after traversing high. We may have been able to, but we never felt good about the transition from our high route back to the trail.

Now, I really applaud our decision making and staying safe, but it’s disappointing to have missed a summit because we didn’t want to lose 200’ of elevation gain, hard-won though it was. And yet, our rewards for going off-trail were marvelous: pristine blue skies above high alpine forests, Mount Rainier in all her glory to the south, and some beautiful terrain all to ourselves. Now that I think about it, maybe I should do more of that … the rewards for abandoning a goal in favor of enjoying the moments are pretty significant. Here are a few pics from the day‘

DSCF2223-2DSCF2234-2DSCF2229DSCF2240

I need to make this quick as I have a bike ride with Suzy scheduled to start in just a few minutes. Later today it’ll get to be over 90°, so we’re getting out early to beat the heat! Hope you’re enjoying summer!

Posted in Hiking | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Stick a pin in the map (local edition)

Posted by joeabbott on July 3, 2018

Suzanne and I plan on moving at some point in the next year or two, but we’ve enjoyed living in the south end of Seattle. While not the most desirous of zip codes, SeaTac has been our home and launching point for many adventures, both local and not so local. As we consider leaving a place that’s become comfortable, we decided to spend an afternoon looking for smaller gems in these parts.

Upon heading to bed the other night, we agreed to head to “a park” and I offered to find one. The next morning I offered her a map and, rather than just visit one park, we headed out to try a bunch!

image

Kent Memorial Park

This would have been our first stop, had we stopped, but Suzanne recalled this place as we neared it and it was comprised of a set of three baseball diamonds. Interesting for ballgames, less so for leisurely walks. And so we passed without stopping.

image

Kiabara Park

We continued on to Kiabara Park but had a hard time finding it; so hard we were actually at the park before we knew we were there. The Park lies along the west side of a railroad track, roughly a block long and half that in width. It contains a koi pond and some statuary, along with lots of trees, paths, and benches for those looking for a rest. As the Kent area has built up around it, the Park appears to be home to those with a bit more time and a bit less house than they’d probably like.

image

We didn’t get out here, but parked alongside it and recollected a time a few years back when we’d walked this area and enjoyed a small, local fair that was going on. Suzanne tried to spot the bakery we’d visited, while I counted the cars on a passing train (65, including 2 engines). When the train passed and the crossing guards lifted, we headed east to our next objective.

Mill Creek Earthworks Park

While neither Suzanne or I had heard of this park before, it’s well-known enough to have its own Wikipedia page! We parked at the west end and started our walking tour, wondering if it was a bad omen that the QR code on one of the informational plaques resulted in a 404 … page not found. But, soon enough, in spite of a background of traffic noises, the spell a well-designed park can have was cast upon us. We walked past a few minor hills created for the sake of visual interest, noted the flood control vault created to weather a 10,000 year flood/storm, past the circular retention pond and through the split-mounds, and onto a pond where a mallard duck shook her tail feathers at us in anticipation of a crust of bread … that never came. She was interested enough, however, to follow us to the far side of the little pond where we rested on a bench and took in the views.

image

From there we wandered farther east to the end of the paved trail and looked down the damp earth trail in its tumble of trees and vines. We didn’t have the shoes for a wet trek and the mosquitoes were already letting us know our short sleeved shirts were just what they were looking for. So, we walked back to look over the earthworks from atop a small building housing the restrooms, then over a bridge to inspect a now-defunct set of stairs leading up to the roadway above us, and then we spent a few minutes watching a man playing with a boomerang as he launched his toy into the circular retention pond. I tried to determine if, with my help he could retrieve his boomerang, but it would be a wet endeavor for someone and it didn’t appear that he had an interest in wading in. And so it was back to our car and on to the next park.

Morrill Meadows Park

We arrived at Morrill Meadows Park and were immediately deterred by an orange, plastic fenced blocking us from the park proper. A family had already setup for a picnic at the shelter but there was an unwelcome look to a place under construction. image

And so, we circled the lot, noted nothing on the west side that looked like trails, and continued on to our next venue. On inspection of a map (at higher resolution), there would have been a bit of trail-walking opportunities beyond the orange mesh barrier, but we passed this time.

Gary Grant Park / Arbor Heights Park 360

Noted as Gary Grant Park on our map, it was labeled Arbor Heights Park 360 on the signage at the actual location and Suzanne and I immediately recognized this location from when we drove past earlier in the week: it’s a skateboard park! Nope, we didn’t stop as we didn’t have our boards but we continued on to the nearby next location …

Clark Lake Park

Our final destination was a good one. We pulled in to see an animal control vehicle at the entrance but were relieved to see the driver was just stopping there for a bit of a break. A sign told us the dock at the lake was under reconstruction but we headed in using the “left hand rule”.

image

As we didn’t have a map I chose to always take the left hand option or path, reasoning that if we got lost, we could turn around and take only right hand paths to return to our car. Suzy immediately recognized this as the strategy I use for finding my way through a dungeon maze in video games and proceeded to taunt me. It was all in good fun and our paths led us across fields, past disused barns, to the quiet end of the lake where more ducks approached us, and back until we finally found the out-of-commission dock. A young couple must not have read the sign … and didn’t find the barrier a deterrent … and were sitting on the dock; we took in the views from the end and then made our way down the west side paths.

Before getting too far, about where the paths turned south, we turned around and walked back to the cars; the day was getting on and dark clouds announced potential rain. Upon passing the lake on the way out, we heard a tremendous “whoosh” … sounding like an airplane was ditching into the lake! A quick peek noted it was only a large flock of ducks alighting into the water. We both smiled as we’d never heard so big a sound from some ducks.

Coda

And that was our day. While there are plenty more parks to discover and enjoy in the South End, we found a couple we’ll likely visit again when opportunity presents itself. It was a good afternoon of toodling lazily about.

Thanks for following along on our afternoon of strolling!

Posted in General stuff, Hiking, Suzy | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

A final Mt. Rainier post

Posted by joeabbott on June 10, 2018

I carry three devices with me when I travel most mountains: my SPOT, a camera, and my GPS.

My SPOT is almost exclusively an insurance policy; I like to go alone and in places that might require someone looking for me … on Rainier, I was told that unless our aid was needed between 7AM and 4PM, the Rangers would not be staffed to assist. Ummm … OK.

My camera is for the obvious; I’ll sometimes carry my phone and use that, but only when hiking. I typically avoid using a phone (something I consider an emergency device) for entertainment purposes while on the trail.

My GPS is a unique tool that I use far less for navigation, than I do for the breadcrumbs.

When enabled, most GPS units will constantly track where you are and have been. Upon getting home, I like to upload this data into my computer to see where my trails have taken me. Sadly, on my most recent trip, I failed to turn my GPS on until after I arrived at the top of Mount Rainier. While typically not a terrible thing, on this trip my route up was different than my route down … and so in the image below I approximated my route along the Disappointment Cleaver.

image

Again, you’ll note the trip appears to “end” at the crater rim, but it actually started there … it was then I remembered to turn on my GPS. I’m a bit sad, but I love seeing the route through the broken up glacier around Gibraltar Rock, above Cadaver Gap. You can also see the distance going up the Cleaver put on our trip.

Here’s what the Ingraham Direct route looked like from camp … not an obvious way through!IMG_0022

And finally, two faces of mountaineering … one on the summit (yes, I should have been wearing my glacier glasses) and one while back at camp taking a much needed sit-down after the summit:

image      image

As always, thanks for hiking along with me on my journeys.

Posted in Hiking | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »