Monday, October 23, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Conquering Mount Adams

Heading up South Climb to Mt Adams
Hiking Mt Adams came on my radar back in February of this year. I had heard prior that this mountain was non-technical, and hikeable with minimum gear and very beginner mountaineering skills. I always say, as long as it's non-technical, I am game to hike it. (Non-technical, meaning I do not have to rope in and wear a helmet when hiking. Mt Rainier is a technical mountain, which I don't really have any interest in climbing as of right now) Anyways, a group was formed and a date was set back in February to climb Adams for July. But as time past and summer caught up to all of us, that original group fell apart and the event was canceled. I wasn't actually that bummed at first because I have had such a busy summer and having a weekend's plan canceled cut me a break. But then I climbed Mt St Helens in June, and that inkling to climb Adams came back. Then some people I knew climbed Adams and posted pictures, which made me want to climb Adams even more. Then my friend Hillary and I started texting about Adams and we decided to set a date to climb it, August 19th weekend. Well that weekend came, and Hillary and I recruited some more friends to climb it with us and it was a successful weekend with an all female crew!

Hiked: Mt Adams, South Climb
Distance from Seattle: 265 miles one way
Miles hiked: 12 miles
Elevation Gained: 6700 ft
Tallest Point (Summit of Mt Adams): 12280 ft
Difficulty: pretty darn difficult
Permit needed: Cascade Volcano Pass is needed when climbing over 7000 ft between 5/1-9/30, $15 per person on the weekend, or $10 per person on a weekday. This permit includes parking, you can rip off a tab on it and stick it on your dash.

Friday August 18, 2017
Sarina, Tizzy, and I agreed on carpooling down to the trailhead. Hillary and Adria planned to drive out Saturday morning. So after working a full day, we met up in downtown Seattle, loaded Tizzy's car, and hit the road for Mt Adams by 5:00 PM. Of course we hit a ton of traffic getting out of the city, and we were also warned there might be extra traffic due to Monday's eclipse with everyone trying to go to Oregon for full totality. It was slow going at first, then we stopped in Tacoma for some food, and by the time we hit the road again, traffic wasn't that bad!

Per Google Maps, there are a couple of different ways to get to Mt Adams, the way we took, we had to drive over the state border to Portland, then cut back up, cross the Hood River Bridge (where there's a $1 toll fee each way), and back into Washington. Our first stop after crossing back into Washington was the Mt Adams Ranger Station in Trout Lake, WA. Since we pulled in around 11 PM, the office was closed, and we had to self register. The ranger station leaves informational pamphlets, registers, pay boxes, and poop bags outside so you can do it all during off hours. We filled out the permit forms, stuck it in the register box, each stuck $15 in an envelope and put it in the drop box, grabbed a couple of poop bags, and were on the road again. They say it's about a 45 minute drive from ranger station to the South Climb trailhead. We stopped early though and decided to camp at Morrison Creek Campground for the night, which is on the way to the trailhead. Don't do what we did. We accidentally passed the campground and started going up the narrow road to trailhead and ended up doing a 20 point turn to turn ourselves around lol. So when you see a sign that says something along the lines of "Steep grade", you've missed Morrison Creek Campground. We eventually found a campsite and pitched 2 tents well after midnight. The girls were excited to get some night shots in before bed. But our plans got ruined because we all got spooked by 2 glowing eyes staring at us. After 20 minutes of sitting in the car trying to figure out what the animal was, and then deciding we were all going to sleep in one tent that night, we finally decided it was a deer across the way and not a cougar lol. Anyways, we all got into Sarina's 3 person tent and went to bed around 1:00 AM.

Morrison Creek Campground

Saturday August 18, 2017
We woke up around 8:00 AM, packed up, ate some food, and drove to trailhead. The drive up to Adams is burnt and charred from previous forest fires, the most recent being 2015. You can actually camp at Mt Adams trailhead, which the camp is called Cold Springs. But since we didn't want to drive the road in the dark, we opted for Morrison Creek the night before. We thought the parking lot would be pretty straight forward, but it wasn't. Cars were scattered everywhere it seemed, with camp spots scattered throughout as well. We eventually found a parking spot pretty close to the entrance of the trail, and were able to send out a text to Hillary and let her know where our car was located. We stashed a walkie talkie on top of the back wheel for her so she could communicate with us on trail. (Safety first!)

We hit trail by 10:45 AM. 3 hours into the hike, we hit the giant snowfield leading up to Lunch Counter, which is the area you can camp at before you start climbing to the summit. Per Sarina's new GPS watch, by the time we found a spot to set up camp, we had hiked 5 miles. It had taken us 5 hours.

We had gotten a hold of Hillary and Adria earlier, and found out they had hit trail 1.5 hrs after us. So Sarina, Tizzy, and I took our time, lounged around, and set up camp. The girls finally found us a couple hours later. We all hung out, practiced glissading and self arresting, found a water source and filtered some water (water source is not reliable up here though, so bank on melting snow for water), ate dinner, and called it a night by 9:00 PM.

 Dusty and sandy trails start off the hike
 Approaching Lunch Counter
 Home for the night
The peak was taunting us
Setting up camp with the peak behind
Tizzy matching the rock patches
Sunset at 9300 ft
Sunday August 19, 2017
All of our alarms went off at 4:30 AM. Seemed like majority of us hadn't slept well that night. For me, whenever the wind picked up, and the tent started flapping, I woke up. I never got cold that night though. (I'll include a list below of my sleep system I brought) We all forced some breakfast into us, lightened our overnight packs with the necessities we needed for the day, left the rest in our tents, and hit trail around 6:00 AM. Truly we had to get gear on within 15 min of hiking (strapping on crampons), so we started closer to 6:30 AM.

I reached Piker's Peak, which is the false summit by 9:45 AM. At this point, we all took off our crampons, put away our ice axes, and layered up before the final push to the true summit. Part way was snow, and part way was loose rocks/scree that was difficult to walk on. No crampons or ice axe needed for the last push. I got to the true summit 15 minutes after the rest of the girls, and summited at 10:45 AM. It was a great day for all of us! We all summited! We hung out at the summit until 11:30 AM, chatting with others, snacking, and taking pictures before we decided to head back down. There's actually an old wooden structure that still sits at the top, but it's not safe to stand on or go in since it's unmaintained.

The hike down the loose rocks/scree wasn't as awful as I thought it was going to be. It was more like slide walking? Lol. Sarina pointed out an area on the true summit, that she had seen people go down a glissade chute. I personally didn't see a glissade chute though, and saw rocks. We all chose to hike it back down to Piker's Peak before we jumped into a chute. We put on our waterproof gear at the top of Piker's, hiked down a bit on the rocks before we jumped into the glissade path. On our way up, we had noted to take the path on the far right, since the other tracks lead into rocks midway. The 5 of us glissaded down, and we got back to camp within 2 hours of summiting! Fastest way down a mountain on snow? Slide down on your butt!

We packed up camp, and hiked out. Tizzy and I tried to glissade at one point, but the snow was too sticky and the hill wasn't steep enough to slide down, so we all ended up walking the large snowfield down. We got back to trailhead by 5:40 PM Sunday. We had just spent 11 hours on trail. It was a long day, and now we still had the 5+ hr drive back to Seattle. We grabbed burgers at Dairy Queen in Hood River, and made it back to Seattle a little after midnight.

Overall, it was a great weekend for all of us on Mt Adams. I did not experience any stomach aches on this trip (I made sure to stay away from dairy), the altitude did not get to me, and I didn't end up using any of the poop bags I brought with me cuz I just can't go on trail, especially if I am only out there for 2 days. (You have to carry out your solid waste so it doesn't contaminate the area)

Sunrise at 6:00 AM
The tip of the mountain in this picture is Piker's Peak, false summit
 3 of the 5
 The rest of the gang
Rented Crampons
Up up we go!
On top of Piker's Peak looking at the true summit
Made it!
The wooden structure at the summit

Some Things I brought/wore:

  • Sleep System - REI Brand Sleeping Bag (rated at 30 degrees), sleeping bag liner (I have this one), a light weight down blanket I bought from Costco, Z Lite Sleeping Pad, and a pillow case with my clothes stuffed into it for my pillow. I did sleep a lil too warm on Adams since the lows only hit 40 degrees.
  • Sunglasses (I do not have glacier glasses/goggles, I just used a polarized pair)
  • Oboz Hiking Boots (my feet were a little damp from trekking in the snow, but did well besides that)
  • Clothing wise: I wore Nike Leggings, a cotton tank, Mammuth Hybrid Jacket/part down, and a Columbia rain jacket (I did get a little damp after glissading). I also dawned Columbia rain pants when glissading
  • 3-Season Tent (We used Tizzy's)
  • Gaiters 
With all this being said and done, take into consideration that we had really good weather last weekend!

Until next time Mt Adams!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Backpacking: Copper Ridge to Egg Lake & Copper Mtn Lookout

Copper Mountain Lookout
Dates Backpacked: July 28-30th, 2017
Location: North Cascades National Park
Miles hiked: 20.4 miles
Elevation Gain: over 3200 ft, but I am not too sure
Difficulty: Moderate

North Cascades National Park started a new lottery system this year with their backcountry permits. You submit a form, where you can prioritize the permits you want and put down a few backup options, pay $20, and wait to hear back a few weeks later. Doing an overnight at Sahale Arm was my first choice and I didn't get it. Copper Ridge was my backup and I was kind of bummed at first when I secured an overnight permit for Egg Lake on the Copper Ridge Loop instead. I mean, none of my friends had really heard about it. No one was envious I got this backcountry permit for some random lake. But looking back, I'm really happy I got the Egg Lake permit and got to experience something I didn't know existed out there till now. Also, one of my other friend's secured a Sahale Arm permit for September, so I still get to do it.

So back to planning this backpacking trip. I originally wanted to do the entire Copper Ridge Loop, which is a 35 mile loop that goes from the forest, to the mountain ridge, and drops down into the valley and follows the Chilliwack River. Well of course I don't have enough paid vacation days at work, and with Cody having started a new job 2 months ago, he doesn't have the vacation days either. So we settled and agreed on just doing part of the loop and only taking 1 day off from work. The permit I secured was to camp one night at Egg Lake. We decided we would try to obtain a 2nd night at Egg Lake if there was any opening when we went to pick up our permit from Glacier Public Service Center (aka the ranger station), and if we couldn't secure the 2nd night, our back up was to camp at Hannegan Camp. Hannegan Camp is 3.7 miles from the trailhead, in national forest territory so a backcountry permit isn't needed. You need a backcountry permit to backpack overnight in national parks. We got lucky and scored a 2nd night at Egg Lake for Saturday!

Friday July 28, 2017:
Cody and I left Seattle a little after 5 AM Friday morning and got to Glacier Public Service Center by 7:30 AM. Service Center opens at 8:00 AM. We were the first ones in the parking lot so I thought I had time to wander around and just wait till the station opened. But by the time Cody noticed others showing up and waiting in line, by 7:45 AM, I was the 4th party in line. I should have been paying more attention! It's ok though, the 3 parties in front of me didn't affect our plans. 2 of them were looking for climbing permits for Shuksan, and the 3rd group was doing Copper Ridge Loop, but ended up picking an itinerary that went the opposite way than we did. The ranger was kind of discouraging, saying "Trail is 70% snow to Egg Lake, and 40% snow to Copper Mountain Lookout". We still went with our itinerary anyways and I am so glad we did! We brought ice axes, gaiters, and microspikes, and none of it was necessary. We did take out our spikes for a short snow crossing but it wasn't really needed. So get to the station early if you don't have permits secured! I am pretty sure because we got the 2nd night's permit for Egg Lake, it affected the itinerary of the group behind us. Early bird catches the worm as they say!

Right before we left the ranger station, we asked where there was a quick bite to eat nearby and they pointed us in the direction of Wake n' Bakery just down the street. It was a cute little coffee shop with some tasty breakfast burritos! Definitely worth swinging by here!
Our hike started at the Hannegan Pass Trailhead. We hit the trail at 10:50 AM.

These were the most notable places on trail to keep mileage:
3.7 miles in is Hannegan Camp
4.2 miles in is junction to Hannegan Peak
5.1 miles in is Boundary Camp (first camp that requires backcountry permits)
8.2 miles in is Egg Lake (our destination for the first night!)

It took us 7.5 hours to get to Egg Lake from trail head, but we also stopped for a 45 minute lunch when we got to Boundary Camp. We hit snow 7 miles in, and it was a snow field that was not hard to cross. There are only 3 campsites at Egg Lake. When we got there, 1 of them was taken already, so we looked at the two that were still available and chose the one that was closest to the bear box. Yes, there are bear boxes provided by the national park at this camp! So bear canister is not required here. We actually brought one anyways, and wished we hadn't. They are so bulky! Another great thing they had were compost toilets. These were probably the nicest backcountry toilets I have experienced. Usually the toilet is a bush or a wooden box, and the boxes usually smell. Well these had actual toilet seats on them and the smell wasn't too awful! It is beginning of the season though for this trail, so the compost toilets might not be as nice come end of August lol. Anyways, we set up camp, ate dinner, hung out, and headed to bed.

Miles hiked: 8.2 miles

Campsite at Egg Lake

Saturday July 29, 2017:
We slept in, had a lazy morning and then decided to hike to Copper Mountain Lookout around 10 AM. It's about 2 miles from Egg Lake one way, and we reached it in less than 2 hours. It was such a clear day up there at the lookout! We only had the lookout for 5 minutes to ourselves before 3 trail runners showed up. Kudos to them! They were in trail runners and only carrying hydration packs, and were running the entire 35 mile loop in one day! We took pictures, ate snacks, chatted to other hikers who showed up and just enjoyed being at the lookout. We actually ran into a guy who started at trail head with us but went the opposite way of the loop, and had already circled to us! Go Devin! We headed back to Egg Lake after hanging out at the lookout for almost 2 hours and made a late lunch of instant mashed potatoes and noodles. We took cat naps in our hammock and just enjoyed lounging around for the rest of the day. We filtered water, made dinner, and went to bed. Really didn't do much besides hike 4 miles this day lol.

Btw, you cannot stay in this lookout, it's not open to the public. The rangers use it still to monitor the area.

Miles hiked: 4 miles

Sunday July 30, 2017:
We woke up, made breakfast, packed up camp, and hit the trail by 8:30 AM back to trailhead. We knew it was going to be a long hot day and we wanted to get back to the car as fast as possible. With minimal breaks, we actually made it back to trail head in 6 hours! We were definitely proud of ourselves since the first day took us 7.5 hrs to get to Egg lol.

Mile hiked: 8.2 miles

Overall, Cody and I had a great time. the views were amazing, the skies were clear, and the sun was shining! What was there to complain about? (Besides the annoying mosquitoes and flies of course lol) We were remembering last summer, and how the weather wasn't always this nice. I mean, the first backpacking trip I took Cody on was to Rachel Lake and it had rained on us lol. So we are appreciating this warm weather while it lasts!

Notable gear that we had that came in handy: Bug nets for the head. Yes they look silly and it gets hot wearing them, but it prevented bugs from flying up our noses, ears, and mouth, and it prevented getting mosquito bites all over our faces!

Until next time North Cascades!

Pictures don't do it justice
Shuksan and Mt Baker in the center
"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark" - John Muir
Trail going towards Silesia Camp
Hannegan Peak in front of Cody
Cody and our campsite
Site was big enough for 2 tents
Compost Toilet
 Wild flowers were in full bloom!
Copper Mountain Fire Lookout
The mountains are calling!
 Egg Lake on Friday, by Saturday the ice in the middle and on the right had melted
Sign for the 3rd campsite
View of Egg Lake from the Copper Ridge Trail up to the lookout

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Backpacking: Goat Lake

Goat Lake

Location: Goat Lake, Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Dates Backpacked: July 8-9, 2017
Miles hiked 10.4 miles +
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft
Difficulty: Pretty Easy besides the distance

Cody and I originally wanted to backpack Eagle Creek in Oregon this weekend, but while researching the hike and overnighting camping spots, I called the ranger station and they advised that there was a wildfire going nearby and not to backpack in the area. So we came up with a backup and headed out to Goat Lake instead.

Cody and I left Seattle Saturday morning at 5:40 am for Goat Lake Trailhead. From reading the most recent trip reports, and seeing people's posts on social media, I knew it was going to get busy and crowded, so I wanted to get there as early as possible to snag a good camp spot. We got to trail head by 7:20 am, and there were already 12 cars there. But that's not that many compared to Sunday when we left and there were 50+ cars parked at trailhead and along the road.

Within the 1st 10 minutes of the hike, you hit a trail split, Upper Elliot, and Lower Elliot; both take you to the lake and are the same distance. So we chose to hike Lower Elliot to the lake, and Sunday we took Upper Elliot to the trailhead. Lower is more wet and forested, while Upper is more exposed and along a wider trail. It took us about 2 1/2 hours to hike to the lake and we only passed 1 hiker on the Lower Elliot trail. Once at the lake, we immediately looked for a good spot to set up camp. At this point it was a little before 11 am, and there were only 3-4 tents setup. So we picked a nice spot next to some bushes and good trees to throw up hammocks and pitched our tent. Then we headed to the lake to eat our lunch. You can keep hiking along the lake but the brush gets really dense and scratchy, and eventually we turned around after 20 min of hiking further in.

Cody and I headed back to our campsite after lunch and took long cat naps in our hammocks. We eventually woke up, and headed back to the lake for a quick swim. No fires are allowed at Goat Lake, so we made a hot dinner with my Jetboil. We tried Mountain House's Teriyaki Chicken this time and it was quite tasty! We also had a package of Curry Chicken ramen and that was delicious as well.

With the sun not setting until beyond 9 pm, and the sky not getting completely dark till almost 10 pm, you never realize how late it is until you look at your watch. We headed to bed shortly after dinner and called it a night.

Following morning, we slept in, ate breakfast, and packed up camp by 10:30 am. We got back to trailhead a little before 1 pm, and were amazed at how many cars there were when driving out! Glad we lost some sleep to snag a spot close to trailhead! Another great weekend with amazing weather!

Until next time Goat Lake!
Cody and I with our packs! 1 night, or 3 nights, it always fits lol
 Cody going up the trail
Pretty waterfalls on the way up
 Home is where you pitch it
 Not our tent, but the lighting seemed right
So many tents!
 About to stumble upon the lake
 Goat Lake is beautiful!
Log jam
Trying not to fall
I ALWAYS want to go swimming haha
Not cold not cold not cold...
 Hiking out
Informed by LoLo that these are wild fox gloves on the trail! So pretty!