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Mason Lake

I hiked up to snowy Mason Lake last weekend. The original destination was Bandera Mountain, but there were hordes of people going that way. So, like Robert Frost, I took the road (okay, trail) less traveled to Mason Lake.

I’m actually glad that I took the alternate trail because of its history. The Ira Spring trail is named after a strong advocate for trails. Ira spent his life encouraging people to get out on the trails. He also did quite a lot to get funding for new trails and to maintain the existing ones. Ira passed away in 2003, and was buried in a boulder field next to the trail. The burial site has a memorial plaque and an excellent view of Mt. Rainier.

It was a decent day in terms of weather. It was clear enough that you could enjoy the view. The only downside was that Mt. Rainier’s summit was hidden by the clouds, but that was good enough.

Mason Lake was uncrowded, as expected. I ate lunch and drank in the view. I did have to be careful not to sit under the trees, because they were dropping snow bombs. Not a bad day overall.

Now the pictures:

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McClellan Butte as seen from the trailhead

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Water

Water

It's spring

It’s spring

Water on needles

Water on needles

Water droplets

Water droplets

The snow started getting serious at about 4,000 feet elevation

The snow started getting serious at about 4,000 feet elevation

I-90 and the Snoqualmie valley

I-90 and the Snoqualmie valley

The clouds over Mt. Rainier's summit briefly parted.

The clouds over Mt. Rainier’s summit briefly parted.

McClellan Butte

McClellan Butte

The Ira Spring memorial plaque and a little piece of the view.

The Ira Spring memorial plaque and a little piece of the view.

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Mason Lake

Mason Lake

Reflection

Reflection

I think this is Dirty Harry's Peak. No, this Harry was merely filthy all the time. :)

I think this is Dirty Harry’s Peak. No, this Harry was merely filthy all the time. :)

Granite Mountain

Last weekend, I wanted a hike that (a) had a fantastic vista and (b) would be strenuous enough to count as a conditioning hike. Granite Mountain definitely met those criteria.

So, off I went. I got a relatively late start, but I managed to get a parking space. Granite Mountain, like most trails on the I-90 corridor, gets a bit crowded on sunny weekends.

I normally don’t bring a camera on a training hike, but I made an exception for this one, because the views are exquisite! The only slight problem was a haze caused by massive wildfires in Siberia. I’m not complaining, though. Over 1,000 Siberian homes have been destroyed or damaged, and 15 people have died due to the fires.

The hike started in the forest, and I noticed that the wildflowers are beginning to blossom. There wasn’t any snow until I got above the treeline (about 4,000 feet). The snow was fairly shallow until I got to about 5,000 feet. After that point, you had to stay on the packed snow. If you didn’t, you sank to your waist in the snow.

I almost made it to the summit, but I turned back with about 300 vertical feet and 1/4 mile to go for two reasons: (1) the snow started getting very slippery and (2) it was getting late (4 PM) and I did not want to use my headlamp on the way back.

That’s the nice thing about mountains. They’re not going anywhere, so you can always come back another time. :)

Here are a few pictures.

Flowering strawberry plants

Flowering strawberry plants

Trillium

Trillium

Yellow Violet

Yellow Violet

First vista on the trail. We go much higher than this!

First vista on the trail. We go much higher than this!

Looking west

Looking west

We've still got to gain a lot of altitude.

We’ve still got to gain a lot of altitude.

Looking east.

Looking east.

First glimpse of the fire lookout

First glimpse of the fire lookout

Mt. Rainier. The haze is from massive Siberian wildfires.

Mt. Rainier. The haze is from massive Siberian wildfires.

An artistic look at Mt. Rainier.

An artistic look at Mt. Rainier.

Looking down at Lake Keecheelus on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass.

Looking down at Lake Keecheelus on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass.

The lookout is getting closer.

The lookout is getting closer.

"The tooth". Also known as Kaleeten Peak.

“The tooth”. Also known as Kaleeten Peak.

The lookout. I turned back not long after I took this shot.

The lookout. I turned back not long after I took this shot.

Umtanum Creek Canyon

One of the (few) advantages of being unemployed is that you can go on hikes in mid-week. So, I headed to eastern Washington to explore the Umtanum Creek Canyon. If you are curious, it is south of Ellensburg by the Wenas Natural Area.

There were lots of wildflowers, and it was a sunny day. Perfect!

On to the pictures!

The trail starts by crossing the Yakima River

The trail starts by crossing the Yakima River

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Apple blossoms

Apple blossoms

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Balsamroot

Balsamroot

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See the Blue Jay?

See the Blue Jay?

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The back-lighting gives the leaves a lot of texture.

The back-lighting gives the leaves a lot of texture.

Who says that the desert is ugly?

Who says that the desert is ugly?

Lots of color and texture

Lots of color and texture

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This is my favorite shot

This is my favorite shot

This used to be a homestead. They planted apple trees.

This used to be a homestead. They planted apple trees.

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Source Lake and Snow!

Last weekend (April 11th), two friends and I hiked to Source Lake. I’ve been there several times, but it’s always been in the winter and I’ve never taken the official trail until now. The reason for the latter is that you make your own trail when there’s snow on the ground.

This was an easy six mile trek with only minimal elevation gain. I selected this route because my friend is not a strong hiker, but he loves the snow. We got lucky. While we were on the trail, the snow started coming down pretty heavily. I don’t know about you, but I love hiking while it’s snowing.

Trivia: it’s called Source Lake because it is the source of the Snoqualmie River. Ironically, the lake is so small and unimpressive, that I didn’t bother taking a picture of it.

Speaking of pictures…

Guye Peak

Guye Peak

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Snow on a branch

Snow on a branch

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The snowfall is rolling in.

The snowfall is rolling in.

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It snowed heavily at times

It snowed heavily at times

I love the way that the trees fade away in the distance.

I love the way that the trees fade away in the distance.

Exploring eastern Washington

A friend and I headed out to explore eastern Washington, specifically the area south of Ellensburg. We were going to hike, but we couldn’t go on the trails for various reasons. Fortunately, my friend’s truck has four-wheel drive, so we went to a Jeep trail that I knew.

The trail goes to a viewpoint overlooking the Kittitas valley, and then to an observatory owned by the UW. We couldn’t go any further, because the trail is closed until May or June.

This was the first time he’d been to the area, so he really enjoyed it, and will probably return to do more exploring.

As usual, there are pictures. Enjoy!

My friend, Rick, taking a picture.

My friend, Rick, taking a picture.

Yakima River.

Yakima River.

Also Yakima River. All that yellow is a bazillion Balsamroot flowers.

Also Yakima River. All that yellow is a bazillion Balsamroot flowers.

Looking at the Kittitas Valley and the Stuart Range.

Looking at the Kittitas Valley and the Stuart Range.

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What an amazing view for a last resting place.

What an amazing view for a last resting place.

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Lupine

Lupine

You can see the Jeep trail continue into the distance.

You can see the Jeep trail continue into the distance.

Balsamroot

Balsamroot

I really like that lone tree for some reason.

I really like that lone tree for some reason.

Looking east/

Looking east

I believe those are the Goat Rocks between Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.

I believe those are the Goat Rocks between Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.

The observatory and a bird.

The observatory and a bird.

Poo Poo Point + Tiger Mountain summit

I went on a solo conditioning hike up to Poo Poo Point last weekend. There are two trails to the Point, and I took the steeper Chirico trail.

First, “Poo Poo” does not mean what you think. 19th century loggers used steam engines to haul the timber, and the steam whistles made a “poo poo” sound.

What’s really neat about Poo Poo Point is that it is a perfect spot for people to jump off and fly using their parasails. It is really spectacular to see them take off! It was a pity that my timing was off, and nobody jumped while I was there. I didn’t mind too much though. I got to see them soaring.

After I hiked the two miles up to the Point, I decided to continue on to the summit of Tiger Mountain because the original hike was just not long enough. So, I took the other trail until it met with the Railroad grade, which is a relatively flat trail. After about 2.5 miles, I took a short cut to the summit on the Section Line trail. It is shorter, but that’s because it goes straight up. It gains about 600 feet in about 1/4 mile (in other words, extremely steep). That was okay, though, because the whole purpose of the hike was conditioning. All told, I hiked about 8 miles round-trip.

I did make it to the summit (barely). I was too tired to take pictures from there (besides, the view isn’t that great). I rested up, and headed back. Back at Poo Poo Point, some parasailers were waiting to take off, but they couldn’t due to the weather conditions. I waited for awhile, but eventually gave up, and went back to the car.

I didn’t take very many pictures, because this was primarily a conditioning hike. Still, here are a few. Enjoy!

The backlighting really makes this pop!

The backlighting really makes this pop!

Trillium. A sure sign of early spring.

Trillium. A sure sign of early spring.

First of two jump off points. Mt. Rainier is in the background.

First of two jump off points. Mt. Rainier is in the background.

More backlighting.

More backlighting.

The second jump off spot. Mt. Baker and Sammamish are in the background.

The second jump off spot. Mt. Baker and Sammamish are in the background.

Also the second jump off point. You can see Issaquah, Lake Sammamish, and Bellevue.

Also the second jump off point. You can see Issaquah, Lake Sammamish, and Bellevue.

This is a rail left over from when the loggers used steam engines to haul the timber. Artifacts like this are all over the place.

This is a rail left over from when the loggers used steam engines to haul the timber. Artifacts like this are all over the place.

A parasailer soaring. You can see downtown Bellevue behind him.

A parasailer soaring. You can see downtown Bellevue behind him.

A bunch of people watching a parasailer.

A bunch of people watching a parasailer.

Waiting to take off.

Waiting to take off.

Weekend at a Beach House

I got invited to spend a weekend at a beach house near Sequim. This was not your usual weekend at the beach, though. All ten of us were outdoor enthusiasts and avid hikers, so we did more than just party.

For those who don’t know, Sequim, WA is on the Olympic Penninsula. To the north is the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island, and to the south are the Olympic mountains. It is a great jumping off spot for all kind of outdoor activities.

On Friday, I left work early (2 PM), and I picked up two passengers. We then headed to the Edmonds ferry, and we got lucky. We were the next to last car on the ferry. We would have had to wait 45 minutes for the next one. The day couldn’t have been better. The sun was shining, and the drive to Sequim was beautiful. That night, we had a bit of a party with “hearty appetizers” and some wine.

The next day, we changed into hiking clothes, and headed up to Deer Ridge. I won’t call it a steep trail, but I will say that it is relentless in gaining altitude. It’s worth the sweat. The views are fantastic! Afterwards, we made a barbeque dinner. Everybody contributed (I contributed pineapple for the grill, and homemade strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert.

On Sunday, we packed up, but 5 of us didn’t want to go home right away. So, I led them to Dungeness Spit. This is a large sand spit (about 6 miles long) on the Strait of Juan de Fuca with a lighthouse at the end. I should lie, and say that we went to the lighthouse, ate lunch, and went back. Unfortunately, everybody was still tired from the Deer Ridge hike, so we turned back after about 4 miles.

So, pictures. There are more than normal because (a) this is two days worth of pictures, and (b) the Olympic peninsula is so beautiful that it was very hard to discard photos. FWIW, I did do a lot of pruning, so 173 photos got cut down to a mere 56. :) Enjoy the images!

Leaving the city behind...

Leaving the city behind…

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We were the next to the last car aboard the ferry!

We were the next to the last car aboard the ferry!

Seattle skyline. Far away, and getting further.

Seattle skyline. Far away, and getting further.

The Olympics are beckoning.

The Olympics are beckoning.

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The beach house

The beach house

Pookie

Pookie

Reflection

Reflection

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A decoration on a store owned by native Americans.

A decoration on a store owned by native Americans.

I love this silhouette. Can you see the bird?

I love this silhouette. Can you see the bird?

Near the beginning of the Deer Ridge trail.

Near the beginning of the Deer Ridge trail.

First vista

First vista

Water on leaf

Water on leaf

Moss

Moss

A succulent plant

A succulent plant

A moss abstract

A moss abstract

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I love the light and the shadows in this image/

I love the light and the shadows in this image/

Mother log

Mother log

Other-worldly lichen

Other-worldly lichen

One of my favorites. I love the colors and the texture!

One of my favorites. I love the colors and the texture!

Moss

Moss

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Another favorite. I love the clouds!

Another favorite. I love the clouds!

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Water on needles

Water on needles

Moss and lichen. Look at all the colors!

Moss and lichen. Look at all the colors!

Looking back at the mainland from Dungeness Spit.

Looking back at the mainland from Dungeness Spit.

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My favorite shot.

My favorite shot.

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Driftwood

Driftwood

Seaweed

Seaweed

Seashore and mountains

Seashore and mountains

I didn't arrange this. Nature is sometimes the best designer!

I didn’t arrange this. Nature is sometimes the best designer!

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The lighthouse

The lighthouse

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