Wednesday, October 20, 2010

High Divide Loop in Olympic National Park

All the pics (here)

Well this past weekend we got out for what will probably be the last backpacking trip of the year before the snow really starts rolling in.

I had to work the previous weekend which was a bummer but the bright side was that I took Friday off as a comp day and so we headed out first thing Friday morning.

After a ferry ride and a bit of driving we had picked up our permit, bear canister for our food, and were on the trail.  The first day was a steady climb up from 2000ft to where we camped at just under 5000 ft over almost 8 miles.  We setup camp just as dusk was changing into full on darkness.  As soon as the sun dropped it started getting really cold.  We inhaled our food and sacked out fairly quickly.

Saturday we took our time rolling out of the nice warm sleeping bags and ate a leisurely breakfast.  By the time we headed up the trail it was probably 10:30 or 11.  This is a vacation right?  We also mixed in a little time spotting animals on the neighboring mountain.  We saw about 18 elk and a lone mountain goat way up on the peak.

The game plan was to explore a spur trail that eventually became a trail that the park service no longer maintains.  The ranger had promised us great views and was he ever right.  Most of the hike we were looking out over the Hoh river valley to Mt Olympus with glaciers hanging off in every direction.  The fall color on the trail was beautiful and we had a great time checking out the scenery.  We went out about 3-4 miles, had some lunch and then had a great hike back.

We made it back into camp before the sun started dropping and learning from our mistake the day before and we made sure to have dinner ready before the sun dropped.  We finished off a bottle of port, cleaned up and hit the sack pretty early saturday before the temps could drop too far.  I would say we were asleep before 9:30.  Ahhhh.....

Sunday we completed the loop back to the car by hiking up the ridge over the 7 lakes basin.  This was a beautiful trail that had some amazing ridge top walking.  On the right was a beautiful basin full of lakes and on the left was Mt Olympus with it's blindingly white glaciers.  The fields all around us were covered in brilliant red and yellows of what I think were blueberry bushes changing colors before going dormant for the winter.  This was the hardest day because we were walking downhill for around 4 hours but it was by far the most scenic.

We had left camp pretty early so we made it back to the car around 2:30.  The treat at the end of the day was Sol Duc hot springs that was just down the road.  We tossed our packs into the car and headed down the road eagerly anticipating our soak in the natural hot springs.  They may smell like sulpher but man do they ever feel good on sore legs.  We soaked in the tubs for about 45 minutes, then showered off and headed back to reality.

An awesome weekend with my beautiful wife.  So glad we were able to get that last trip in this weekend.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Well overdue post about Honeymoon in the San Juan's at Doe Bay

All the pics (here)

I have been meaning to writeup a post about our honeymoon, aka minimoon (it was Thursday - Sunday), in the San Juan's for weeks.  Well now that we just passed our one month anniversary I thought it was about time to sit down and make myself type.

I will post about the wedding as well but I am waiting to get our photos back from the photographers.  We had the time of our lives at the wedding but it was over before we knew it.  Monday rolled around and I had to go back to work for a few days.  I worked from Monday until Wednesday the week following the wedding and by the time Wednesday rolled around I was dying to get away and relax with my wife.  We headed out as soon as I got in from work Wednesday and were in Anacortes WA by 7 or 8pm.  We checked into our hotel for the night and were thrilled to be upgraded to a water view room with a hot tub.  We took the front desks suggestion on where to eat and headed downtown to a cool brew pub.  I can't remember the name.  The beer was good but the music was excellent.  They had a local bluegrass band playing and we had a great time kicking back and listening.

After a lazy breakfast we woke up Thursday morning and got on the ferry around 10.  I was exhausted from the wedding and work and took the ferry ride as a great opportunity to catch a little nap.  We got to the San Juan's and were greeted by low clouds and a nice drizzle.

The whole weekend the weather switched between rainy, cloudy weather and then the sun would pop out for a while.  The rain storms were a great opportunity to open up the front door on our little water front cabin, and read.

Thursday night we headed over to open mic night which I thought would be very lame.  I mean open mic night /pizza night on a tiny island?  How lame....  Well it was awesome!  We got take out pizza because the restaurant was too full for us to sit down.  The pizza was amazing.  After eating our pizza and washing it down with a little wine in our cabin we walked back over to check out the music.  For such a tiny place there sure was a lot of musical talent.  Most of the singers worked at the restaurant and were really impressive.  One guy had a business on the island of making ukuleles.  He play a few tunes that were really cool.  We had one strange dude sing songs about dogs.  He was pretty proud that when you search google for dog songs he was one of the first few hits.  A great mix of people and it was over way too soon.

Friday we woke up to some really nice weather and decided to get out for a hike.  We headed to a nearby lake and took a nice leisurely 4 mile hike.  The trail wound around the lake and it was a great time.  We headed back in time to catch the afternoon showers.

Saturday we had a reservation to go kayaking.  The best part was we would start right at Doe Bay so we did not even have to get in the car.  Well we woke up and could not see 5 feet outside the window.  Luckily the fog cleared a bit before our time to go out and we had a blast.  The fog socked things in so you really felt like the place was remote.  All sound was muffled so all you could hear was your paddle in the water.  We saw a few seals, a jelly fish the size of a basketball (seriously it was huge), and a ton of starfish.  What a great time.

I am missing a ton of things but you just have to go to Doe Bay yourself to see them.  It is an amazing place.  Natalie and I recently have been thinking of how we live to extremely different lives.  When we are home we have busy jobs, a fun busy city full of things to experience.  It seems like there are always people to see and friends we have not caught up with in too long, phones ring too much, and we are always running around.  When we go on vacation we tend to go off the grid.  Backpacking or going to a resort with no phone service, and yurts, or high camp where you have to be snowmobiled in or something just as basic.  It is great to live in a place where we can experience all that a city has to offer and at the same time be out in the middle of nowhere.