Sunday, January 31, 2010


For all the pictures click HERE.

Saturday we headed out with Laura and Frank to an event that I don't think you can see in too many parts of the country. We went to watch the Cascade Quest dog sled race over by Levenworth.

This was a really cool event that went from Saturday to Sunday. The racers headed out 25 miles, camped, and then headed back in Sunday. Since we were there on Saturday we saw the teams leaving.

The whole event was very laid back so we got to meet the racers and all their dogs. We saw the 2pm start that was a purebred race. Since we were there at around 1:30 we saw them getting all of the dogs ready. As soon as the dogs saw their harnesses they got really excited and started howling. Even at the starting gate the dogs were so excited they started hopping up and down and jumping on top of each other.

It was a great day filled with lots of dog slobber.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Hiking in the jungle

Another great weekend out in the woods. Dan, Laura, Natalie and I headed up to the north cascades this past weekend. The plan was to head up into the snow so we all loaded up the packs with winter tents, snowshoes, and all the warm gear we could carry. Well we got to the trailhead and even after driving uphill for 30 minutes the snow line was still so far above us that we decided to leave the snowshoes in the car.

We headed out under skies that were pretty nice but had a hint of darkness to them. About 30 minutes into the trip things began to get interesting as we came across an unexpected river. It was not really cold (probably low 40s) but still to cold to just wade across a river of snowmelt. We searched around a little and Dan and I decided the best crossing was over a fallen tree that was covered in ice. What could go wrong right? Well everything went well and after a little sawing of branches and handing of packs we were all across. In the back of my head I was thinking, hmm I hope the water level does not come up overnight because I have no idea how we will make it back across.

After crossing the river we headed into what looked like the set of Jurrassic Park. The trees were huge and covered in moss. We spent a good portion of the hiking heading up a creek bed. There were quite a few blowdowns which resulted in the trail just disappearing. We would realize after about 15-20 feet that we were not on a trail any more (this was a lightly used trail anyway) and would have to fan out to locate the trail again. It was cool to have to do a little route finding. I felt like we were making good time but as it started getting later we were still nowhere near the treeline where we had planned to camp.

A little after 4 Dan said he thought we should call it and use the remaining light to find a campsite. I really wanted to make the treeline for the views and so while he went off to the side of the trail to find an area to camp in (we were on the side of a mountain so not many flat spots were to be had) I dropped my pack and jogged up the trail in the off chance that

a. there was an established flat campsite ahead
b. that by some miracle the treeline was closer than we thought

Turns out the the trail just got steeper up ahead and there were not any good campsites up there at all. I reluctantly turned around and started jogging back down the trail to see if Dan had found a campsite.

When I got back Dan had just re-emerged from the woods and thought he may have found a place. We all heaved our packs back onto our backs and headed off the trail and into Jurrassic Park. The campsites were not much to look at but after adjusting the tents a few times we decided they would work well.

After getting setup we all changed into our warmest clothes and headed to our dinner/bar area. Between all of us we had two bottles of port, one bottle of wine, and a bottle of bailey's to have with hot chocolate later. It started getting cold so we fired up the stoves, opened up the port and ended up having a great night just catching up and talking trash. The hanging of the food line was a memorable experience. Booze+waterbottle tied to a rope that needed to be thrown over a tree is always interesting but this was a classic. Classic bear bag setup....

It had gotten dark at 4:30pm so we had all turned in by nine with full stomachs and faces that hurt from laughing. Great times with great friends.

The hike out was uneventful and my worst nightmares about the river crossing on the way out turned out to be nothing more than paranoia.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Han Solo

Ok, so 3 beers made that subject line sound really cool.

Last year in April Natalie headed out for her first winter camping trip. We headed up to Kendall Peak lakes which is a great snow camping trip where you snowshoe in 4 miles in with the last mile being the snowshoeing equivalent of a bushwhack, meaning there really is not a trail. This past weekend I had grand plans to head out on an epic solo snoeshoe adventure but after fighting a cold, or hangover or whatever it was I decided to bail on the idea on friday evening and repeat a trip Natalie and I did last year.

Last years trip was before this blog was started so let me recap a bit. This was the trip that last year Natalie and I took with my 3 season tent and ended up getting about 6 inches of snow overnight. Luckily this was a calm storm that blew in so we were comfortable under the 3 sleeping bags I had carried in. I figured that since it was Natalie's first winter camping experience I would make sure she was warm so she would want to go again. We worked so hard to make it up to this alpine lake and it never occurred to me until we hiked up to the edge of the lake that in April this lake was just a flat spot in the snow. Hmm, what a scenic plot of snow we worked so hard to reach....

So getting back around to this trip (sorry for the stream of conciousness post but well that is how it is this evening). So I rolled out of bed saturday morning at 9 and hit the road. After a bit of driving around to pick up last minute parking passes at REI I was on the road to the trail. I strapped on my snowshoes and started walking up the trail around noon. Ahhhhhh, I needed to get up into the mountains so bad..

Ok, so one more aside and then I will get back to the trip. I have probably posted on here more than once but I have discovered a formula to my happiness. I have discovered that I have to get up into the mountains overnight at least one weekened every six weeks. More is better but to maintain my sanity the formula seems to be one weekend every 6.

Ok, now back to the trip..... So I hit the trail at the crack of noon and felt the stress drop off with every step. After a few hours I was at the end of the trail and started up the bushwhack portion. Last time I headed up this with Natalie it was a lot of powder but this time the hill was a sheet of ice. Every step had to be stamped in so I would not slide back. About half way up the value of an ice axe started to make sense. Hmmm, note to self, next investment is an ice axe.

After a bit of bashing up the ice I was at the top of the hill. I took a quick detour up to the top of a peak to check it out and then headed to my campsite. After passing a few groups of campers I found a great campsite at the base of Kendall peak. Just about the time I was going to set my pack down I heard the entire wall of ice shift. This was a very eerie, very heavy sound as the snow/ice was consolidating for the night and I quickly decided to head to a safer spot in case the hill decided to detach. So a few minutes later I was within a stones throw of the site Natalie and I had used the year before.

The rest of the evening was spent setting up camp, bundling up and checking out the map for areas I had hiked and would like to hike in the future. Solo snow camping and just solo camping in general is a great time to just sit and think. I reflected back on the amazing year that has just passed. Wow, it is crazy how fast life passes. I feel like it was just yesterday Natalie and I were engaged in Doe Bay, or climbing Mount Adams with Dan and Laura. Wow, it all goes so fast.

Well I am back home now nursing my sore core calves and looking forward to getting out again this weekend. Natalie and I are headed out with Dan and Laura for another snowshoe weekend and I can't wait.