Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fremont Lookout

Roundtrip mi: 5.6 miles
Elev. gain: 800
Party:  Deb, Shelby, Pops

 (Taking pictures at Fremont causes people to accuse you of taking pictures in front of a "visitor center" sign, or photo-shopping yourself in; but no, it is that beautiful and perfect!)

We decided to take it easy this week, because Pops hasn't been hiking in a while. The Fremont Lookout is a lot of bang of your buck. It's only 800 feet in elevation, and it is GORGEOUS. I have always said that the Sunrise side of Rainier is my favorite, and with good reason. Less tourists, more mountain. 

I have done Fremont at least 5 times (its a great hike for beginners. It is easy enough that they won't hate you or the mountain when they are done, but it is decent enough to not feel like just a walk in the park) so I don't have a lot to write about. I guess all I have to say is that it is great for beginning hikers. It is classic. And beautiful. OH! One thing.....Fremont has a ton of loose rocks (so if you have ankle issues, watch your step!) and one of them jumped up and bit me. Yup. So I'm walking along, minding my own business, and I apparently stepped on one of these rocks wrong, on the edge of it, which caused it to fling up and hit me in the Achilles tendon!!! And cut me! it didn't cut all the way, but enough to make me bleed! I turned around, looked at the rock and went "Did that seriously just happen????"
Large rocks that weren't my friends ^^^^

ALSO, Fremont has the FUNNIEST mountain toilet ever!!!! Talk about your view!!!!
Here are some other pics!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pictures I missed.....

If you look about 2 blogs down, you'll see my Mt. St. Helen's blog, but I missed a few photos, so here they are!


The life of a hiker is a dirty one. 
 No Pedicures for me until November
1 bottle of water + 1 towel = What we call a "  Mountain Shower"

From Nikki G.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Today I cheated on my man Rainier with a little lady named Saint Helen.

Mt. St. Helens! 
Maybe some other stuff....we aren't exactly sure what trail we were on...
Roundtrip mi: ...........8? Maybe? 
Elev. gain: According to the WTA only about 600, 
but it was definitely more than that. My guess is about 1,000-1,500. 
Party:  Deb, Shelby, Sheer Cliffs, Blast Zone, Fabulous Mountain Men.

SUMMARY: This hike was truly unique and geologically exciting! Yes. Geology is exciting. It is incredibly humbling to walk in this newborn and continually growing forest/meadow. Normally I don't feel horrible meadow stomping around certain areas.....lets be honest....everyone does it. However....doing it here....in a meadow that has worked so hard to be where it's at; it should be a crime! I watched every step! Something about this area made me feel closer to nature than I have felt in years. I know that sounds cliche.... but I don't know....I guess I just see Mt. Rainier all the time, and its just this institution in my life and the life of all Washingtonians, I take it for granted. The meadows at Mt. Rainier are so thick and lush, because they have had hundreds of years to grow! Everything around Mt. St. Helen's seems so fragile; it is a reminder that what was once an institution can be literally blown away in seconds. And you thought Jersey Shore had "Blow-Outs"
Mt. St. Helen's Blow-Out

Jersey Shore Blow-Out
DJ Pauly D is pretty.....but I think Mt. St. Helen's wins. 

THE TRAIL: The entire hike was exposed....due to all the trees being blown down obviously, so the hike was HOT. Three words to describe this hike: HOT, DIRTY, ASHY. Almost all of the trail was this lose ash/dirt/volcanic rock. My mom and I were switching on and off being the "leader" because the person in the back inevitable, and literally ate dust. It was gross. My mouth felt chalky.

The wild flowers were out, not quite at peak (give it a week or two), but they were lovely all the same. Red and Orange Indian Paintbrush, Foxgloves alllll over the place, Orange and Avalanche Lilies, and many many more! 

The trail went steadily up and up and suddenly we turn the corner, and BAM. There is Spirit Lake. Now... I don't really know what I was thinking.... I guess I was thinking that Spirit Lake was just like any other average medium size mountain-y alpine-y lake. WRONG. When we turned the corner, it literally took my breath away. It was WAY bigger than I anticipated.... The feeling I had was very similar to when I went to the Sistine Chapel; Spirit Lake was bigger and more beautiful and more brilliant and more genius than I ever could have imagined. The whole trip I kept calling it "Nature's Sistine Chapel." 

I remember seeing Spirit Lake as a child, and being BLOWN AWAY (bad pun) by all the tree's that got blown into the water. It is so bizarre to see this sort of floating dead forest.
What do I look like???
Mom and I played this game for a while..."What do the logs look like?"
Shelby's thoughts: North America.
Mom's thoughts: A T-Rex. 
Don't see the T-Rex? Tilt your head to the left. 

Our family has "Jumping Genes!"
Ok, so there were some SKETCHY ass parts of that trail. I was sincerely concerned for my safety. These pictures do it NO justice..... but here they are. 
I wish the picture captured it... but basically that is the wee little trail... and if you look to the left, that is the sheer cliff. And the hill just keeps going down and down and gets steeper and steeper. Seriously seriously scary. I never thought I could give a rock a meaningful hug, but when I felt like I had to hold on for my life, I bet it's the best hug that rock has ever gotten! Speaking of rocks.....

I LOVE Geology. I think rocks are soooo cool. Especially around Mt. St. Helens. Absolutely fascinating! Basalt Columns and Really cool composite stuff. So my poor mother had to sit through me going "Ok, now look at THIS one!!!" and several geology 101 lessons. 
Amazing Basalt Columns!
Ok, so here are the rest of the pics!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Eleanor Lake + Grand Park ("Through the back door") July 20th, 2010

Roundtrip mi: 9
Elev. gain: 1100ft
Party:  Michelle, Deb, Mosquitos, Potholes, Sheer Cliffs, and Shelby
Words to describe: Stunning Meadows, Lots of DEET. 
I wanted to point it out, just in case you couldn't see it. 

  SUMMARY: Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. This hike was so great! It was super easy (compared to what I am used to!), anyone who is physically capable could do this (even if you are out of shape, you could still make it! There are only a few steep parts!). You walk through a forest which I described as "Twilight looking" although, to be fair, I am in the middle of reading Twilight and have Edward Cullen on the mind, so everything is "Twilight looking" to me! Haha, but it was mossy and creepy looking for the first part. About a mile up you reach Lake Eleanor:

 Lake Eleanor is cute, small/medium sized, and quaint. There are camp sites there, but I wouldn't suggest it...the mosquitoes were sooooo bad. (I'll speak more to that in a minute!) So you hike up a few difficult, steep parts (you may need a "breather") but then, it opens to this amazing, beautiful meadow known as Grand Park. Grand Park is a HUGE flat meadow --when Mt. Rainier blew up, this is where the lava went....thus the flatness. When you look around, you are literally surrounded by meadow. Peak wildflower season is in about a week and a half, and I am sure it will be out of control beauty! 
Pictures really don't do this beautiful piece of land justice.
Michelle doesn't like her picture being taken, but occasionally when she turns her back, we snap one.
There is an amazing "Silver Forest" due to wild fires. Sad, but beautiful!
Avalanche Lilies
DANGERS: However, in order to do this amazing hike, you must take into consideration the physical capabilities of your car. Someone on the WTA website wrote: "The road has many potholes, but can be driven in any car if driven slowly." REALLY? ANY car? No. Absolutely not. The ten mile stretch of FS Road 73 takes about 40 minutes if you want to drive carefully and not destroy your car. The road had tons of potholes first off, and second, it was one of the scariest roads I have ever been on. I kept my nose in my Twilight book to avoid peeing myself. This picture doesn't do the scariness justice AT ALL, but it shows a little bit of the sheer cliffs off the gravel road winding up the hill....
It is a bit blurry as it is taken with my cellphone out of a window...but seriously....CLIFFS on one side, and rocks and trees falling off the cliff to your opposite side. SCARY. If you are easily freaked by stuff like this....well...lets just say Forest Service Road 73 is not for the faint of heart. One particular part of the road had what we called a "Stick Feature." We think it was put there to make the hole looks less gigantic and scary? "Lets just throw some sticks over it so they can't see that their car has the potential to go tumbling into the river...."
"Stick Feature" off to the left, marked with pink tape. Serious shitty road!
I wouldn't let the road stop you though, it was an incredible hike! Just take a hefty car, your big boy pants, and a cautious attitude. 

WILDLIFE: I have been to Grand Park twice now, once via the Sunrise side of Mount Rainier, and now via the back door (I recommend both!!! Both are stunning, but the back door is much easier, and shorter). Grand Park is known for having Elk, and I have never seen any there. Maybe I'm just not lucky! I did see Elk tracks, so they ARE there. We saw what looked to be cougar poo (not confident in this identification), but the main "wildlife" that I have to talk about are the stupid freaking mosquitoes. It was the WORST I think I have ever experienced. 

Dad: "Well, did you spray yourself with bug spray?"
Mom: "Yes. Like three times"
Dad: "Well, you gotta really cake it on, but it on your clothes and everything"
Shelby: "Dad, we know...we did...it was still bad."
Dad: "Did you spray it on your face and everything"
Mom: "YES. We sprayed it EVERYWHERE, multiple times, and it didn't help.... these mosquitoes were everywhere."
Dad: "Well.....did it have DEET in it?
Mom and Shelby: "YYYYEESSSS."
Shelby: "Nothing worked."

Michelle, my mother and I ended up having to eat our lunch while walking. As soon as you stop you will get swarmed. But no big, we just walked around, and looked at the mountain; sandwich in tote.

I know I talked a lot of shit about the road and the "wildlife" but this was a great hike, and truly amazing, and I would highly recommend it, to the novice and expert alike.