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Snoquera Falls

It has been a warm winter. Last weekend, I hiked to Snoquera Falls. This is on SR-410, close to Crystal Mountain and Mt. Rainier. You normally do this hike in mid-March, more or less as a tuneup for the spring hiking season. Oh well. It looks like I’ll be able to get in some more hikes this year. Yay!

I had never been to Snoquera Falls before, although I have been to the nearby Snoquera Palisades. It’s a fairly easy loop trail, and the view of the falls is worth it. Obviously, I am including some pictures. :)

I am realizing that I haven’t really explored the area east of Mt. Rainier. I’m especially interested in the Norse Peak Wilderness. I will definitely be coming back to the area this summer.

P.S. I’ve asked people in my hiking group for their suggestions. Since this photo blog’s viewers vicariously enjoy my treks, I will ask if you want me to go explore somewhere on your behalf. You don’t have to go (unless you want to). I will go there, and I will make sure that I post pictures so that you can enjoy the experience. The only restriction is that the location must be in the state of Washington.

Enough of that. Here are the pictures.

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Skagit River Eagle float

A few weeks ago, I floated down the Skagit River in a raft to view the eagles. The Skagit is a popular winter hangout for the eagles, due to the salmon migrating upstream to spawn.

It rained some while we were on the river, but we were all dressed for it (this is the Pacific northwest, after all).

This was my first time viewing the eagles from a raft. It’s definitely different (and better) than from the shore.

Some of the images are kind of dark. Unfortunately, the light that day was not the best. I didn’t let that get in the way of taking photos, though. :)

Here are the pictures. Enjoy!

Not an eagle, but it's still a nice shot.

Not an eagle, but it’s still a nice shot.

My "raftmates"

My “raftmates”

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More moodiness

I like the way that clouds add “mood” to a picture.

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Eagle or osprey nest

Eagle or osprey nest

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This is one of my favorite shots.

This is one of my favorite shots.

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Osprey

Osprey

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Here's looking at you, kid.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

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Snowshoe to Lanham Lake

Last weekend, a friend and I went up to Stevens Pass for some snowshoeing. It was a spur of the moment thing.

Selecting a trail was a little tricky. My friend loves to snowshoe, but he has the stamina for only a few miles. That really limited the available trails. The avalanche probability was fairly high, so we could only use trails in the trees for safety. The weather was also a major factor. Snoqualmie Pass was forecast to have freezing rain (yuck!). Fortunately, Stevens Pass’es forecast said rain or snow.

So, I selected Lanham Lake. It is very short (3 miles round trip). I really lucked out on the weather. It snowed the entire time we were on the trail. Lovely!

Here are a few pictures.

Nordic Center at Stevens Pass near the trailhead. Yay! Lots of snow!

Nordic Center at Stevens Pass near the trailhead. Yay! Lots of snow!

Lanham Creek

Lanham Creek

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I love the texture here

I love the texture here

Snow on the branches. You can see snow falling in the background.

Snow on the branches. You can see snow falling in the background.

Icicles and moss

Icicles and moss

The trail through the trees.

The trail through the trees.

Icicles on a log. You can see the snow failling.

Icicles on a log. You can see the snow failling.

Lanham Creek

Lanham Creek

Snow-covered Lanham Lake.

Snow-covered Lanham Lake.

Lena Lake hike

The first week of December, we hiked up to Lena Lake and camped overnight there. It sounds cold, but it was quite pleasant.

Lena Lake is in the Olympic National Forest, and it is EXTREMELY popular during the summer. It’s so crowded then that I avoid it like the plague.

Early December is much different. We had the entire lake to ourselves! Also, the elevation is fairly low (2,000 feet), so you don’t have to worry too much about snow.

I can understand why Lena Lake is so popular. It’s really pretty! Also, it’s a fairly easy hike (5 miles roundtrip with only 1,300 feet elevation gain).

On the hike, I fell behind, as usual. The trail had lots of things saying “Take my picture!”, and I can never resist that. Unusually, I had company this time. A fellow hiker had just bought a new camera, and he was going berserk with it. :) I’m not exaggerating too much. I shot about 150 photos on the 2.5 miles from the trailhead to the lake. That’s a decent number, but he shot over 900!

I’m looking forward to January. Then I get to go snow camping! Also, I’m setting up an introductory cross country skiing class for Jan. 4th for one of my meetup groups. A few people and I will learn how to do x-country skiing, and I can hardly wait!

In the meantime, here are some photos from Lena Lake. Enjoy!

The trees and the fog at the trailhead

The trees and the fog at the trailhead

The trail

The trail

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Trees and the trail in the fog.

Trees and the trail in the fog.

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Lena Lake

Lena Lake

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Two people in our group decided to have a swim. Brr!

Two people in our group decided to have a swim. Brr!

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I was told not to take pictures on the way down so that we could be back in time for the Seahawks game, but the light was so beautiful that I couldn't resist.

I was told not to take pictures on the way down so that we could be back in time for the Seahawks game, but the light was so beautiful that I couldn’t resist.

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Alpental Snow

I scouted out Alpental a few weeks ago. I didn’t do much hiking, but it was a gloriously beautiful day. Here are a couple of pictures.

This bridge takes you from the parking lot to the slopes.

This bridge takes you from the parking lot to the slopes.

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Ingalls Lake hike

I helped organize a hike to Lake Ingalls, which is near to Mt. Stuart in eastern Washington. It was a little bit showery, but not too bad. In fact, the clouds swirling around the peaks made some great pictures.

The reason we went there was to see the larches in all of their golden glory. Larches, if you don’t know, are a unique type of tree. They are coniferous (like a pine), but every autumn, their needles turn golden, then orange, and then they fall off. They are gorgeous!

Unfortunately, some of the hikers had to be back early, so we turned back about a half mile before Ingalls Pass, where you can see an entire valley filled with larches. I didn’t mind too much, because I got some great pictures anyway.

Speaking of pictures…

You can see this from the parking lot!

You can see this from the parking lot!

Clouds

Clouds

Clouds and color

Clouds and color

Clouds and b&w

Clouds and b&w

Leaves and water

Leaves and water

I love the way that the trees peep out from the clouds

I love the way that the trees peep out from the clouds

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The trail. There was a little snow to contend with.

The trail. There was a little snow to contend with.

Color

Color

A larch. I thought alpine larches required a high altitude (6,000+ feet), but this one was at about 4,000 feet.

A larch. I thought alpine larches required a high altitude (6,000+ feet), but this one was at about 4,000 feet.

Ferguson Lake – overnight hike in the Pasayten Wilderness

Last July, I led an overnight hike to Ferguson Lake in the Pasayten Wilderness. This is a very good place to get away from the crowds. We only saw one other party all weekend!

One reason for this is the remoteness. The Pasayten Wilderness is east of North Cascades National Park, and is bounded by Canada on the north and the Methow Valley on the south (basically it’s north of WA-20). To get there, you have to drive almost 20 miles on a dirt road, which can be intimidating because the road can be a little rough, and there are a couple of places where you drive right next to a sheer dropoff with no guardrails. An ordinary car can make it there as long as they drive slowly.

Once you do get to the end of the road, you are rewarded with astounding views of the north Cascades, because you are at the highest point in Washington that you can drive to (7200 feet). The place is called Hart’s Pass. There is even a no longer used fire lookout there. For reference, it’s about 30 miles from the Canadian border, and you can see some of the mountains in Canada from there.

We weren’t there to sight see, though. We wanted to camp at Ferguson Lake, which was a 7-mile hike to the other side of the valley. So, everybody put on their backpacks and got on the trail. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds, we had to descend 2000 feet into the bottom of the valley, ford the river, and then ascend 1300 feet to the lake.

I have to confess that I wasn’t much of a hike leader, because the extreme heat drained my strength, and I ended up lagging behind.  The temperature was probably in the 90’s, despite the fact that we were at a high elevation. Anyway, I did make it to the lake.

One thing that was nice, was the fact that campfires were allowed. Usually, fires are forbidden in wilderness areas, but I guess the Pasayten Wilderness is an exception. BTW, fires were banned there later in the summer, since we had an exceptionally dry and hot summer.

Another thing that tells you that you are in a wilderness is the lack of bridges. As I previously mentioned, the lake was on the other side of the valley, and valleys usually have rivers flowing through them. This was no exception. We had to take off our boots and socks so that we could ford the Middle Fork Pasayten River. There were lots of rocks in the river (nothing sharp, though). It was an “interesting” feeling to walk in bare feet over rocks while carrying a 40-pound backpack! After the hike was over, I made a bee line to REI to buy some sandals for the next time I had to ford a river (they also make excellent camp shoes, which lets you take off your boots in camp!).

A couple of my fellow hikers brought a rod and reel and caught a few fish, which they shared. Yum!

All in all, it was a pleasant hike. I will definitely go back to the Pasayten Wilderness to explore some more of it. It is huge!

On to the pictures!

This gives you a rough idea of where we hiked. Ferguson Lake is on the opposite side of the valley looking straight ahead, about halfway up the slope.

This gives you a rough idea of where we hiked. Ferguson Lake is on the opposite side of the valley looking straight ahead, about halfway up the slope.

Looking northwest from the trailhead

Looking northwest from the trailhead

Looking southwest at the trail's start

Looking southwest at the trail’s start

We had to go through a little snow

We had to go through a little snow

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Sunset

Sunset

Ferguson Lake

Ferguson Lake

Campfire!

Campfire!

The trail leading us down into the valley

The trail leading us down into the valley

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Columbine

Columbine

Tiger lilies

Tiger lilies

Fording the river

Fording the river

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Avalanche lilies. These grow for only a short time after the snow melts.

Avalanche lilies. These grow for only a short time after the snow melts.

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