Friday, June 28, 2013


There's an outside possibility I'll need to work again this Saturday.  I'll know for sure after I get to work this morning.  I'm very hopeful it will be no, but we'll see.  The odds are weighted in favor of not working but strange forces are in play.

In the event I do not work Saturday, I'll be departing immediately after work for Mt. Rainier National Park.  The last time I went, I stayed at the Ohanapecosh campsite.  Checking the website I see Cougar Rock opened yesterday.  Cougar Rock campsite is my target.  From there I'll hike the trails sort of in the Cougar Rock/Longmire area.  The trails report looks favorable.

I prepared my gear/food last night.  I'm all set and sitting on ready.  I'd really not like to institute a Plan B for this weekend.  We'll see.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Your Time

Perusing around the internets I came up a pretty cool visual aid depicting the average person's time on this planet.  See the video below.

My take away was I don't have all that much "me" time.  So, I'd better be doing what I want, meaning, what makes me happy.

I've often said what I fear most is a boring life.  I certainly don't feel bored right now.  In fact, I'm feeling I'm in a very good place (between my ears, if you know what I mean).

Where are you?  Are you in a good place?  How are you spending your "me" time?  Find your happiness, chase it down, grab on, and don't let go.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Weekend Bust

The recreational wheels fell off this past weekend.  An odd work schedule made for not much fun.

I needed to depart for Portland about noon on Saturday.  I had to be at a certain place ready to work at 4 PM and need to complete this work by 8 PM.  I did the work and then headed to Widmer Brewing brew pub for some grub, a beer, and the drive back to here.

When I was just on the South edge of Tacoma on I-5, there was a collision ahead that shut down three of four lanes.  Traffic was thick-ish and squeezed into that one lane.  It took me just over one hour to move two miles.

Since I was home late I slept in on Sunday.  I awoke to the sound to a pretty steady rain.  Sunday became "prep for the week" and nap day.  I guess every weekend can't be fun.

But, I'm going to do my best to make next weekend fun.  Keeping one eye on the weather, I plan to have the vehicle locked and loaded with gear.  Once work is done for the week, I  plan to be off to somewhere.

My choices are heading to the woods to camp, mountain biking some trails, or I was thinking a hybrid trip to Port Townsend.  If I tossed a bike on the vehicle and made my way to Port Townsend, I could make a stop at Pygmy Boats to check out their kayak models.  Then, I could head for Coupeville and Ebey State Park area for some mountain biking coupled with camping.

Work on weekends is extremely rare for me.  Though I enjoy my job, I also enjoy my fun time.  I'm looking forward to getting back to the fun this coming weekend.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Grindstone, Nose To It

Life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of my fun time.  Today was supposed to be my every-other-Friday off.  Instead, I'll be at work.

I've been on a special, and very hot project, the last two weeks.  Now it's coming to a head.  Decisions need to be made, meetings have to be met, and engineering needs to be done.  I've been asked to work today instead of having it off.  Since the weather has taken a turn for the wet, I've shrewdly negotiated a Monday immediately following my every-other-Friday off in July.  In other words - four day weekend!

But, it gets even better worse.  There is a strong possibility I'll be up early enough on Saturday to hit the road even before the sun begins to light the sky to be headed in the direction of Portland, OR for a Saturday of work.

The bad news - it's work.  The good news, it's all overtime plus nicely reimbursed for travel.  I smell more new gear!

It's not a done deal yet.  I'll know by the end of the day.  In the instance I'm not headed to Portland, OR, I will be headed to North Bend, WA.  The game plan is to ride the John Wayne Pioneer Trail from Rattlesnake Lake up to, and through, the Snoqualmie Pass tunnel.  If it doesn't happen Saturday due to work, then it will likely happen Sunday.  It's supposed to be wet on Sunday.  But, if it's not pouring, and it seldom does around here, then the John Wayne Trail it will be.  Unless it isn't.  But it could be.  And it might not.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Becoming A Wizard

Apparently, by going camping all next weekend, I will miss my yearly opportunity to become a Wizard.  When I read the rules to attain this stature, I knew my work would be cut out for me.  Namely because I pretty much hate crappy, watered-down, mega brand, domestic beer.  You know, the beer with very low alcohol content.  Instead I opt for the beers with flavor.  The side effect of drinking beer with flavor is it has, typically, pretty good alcohol content.

So, how does this lower the odds to becoming a Wizard?  I took the below graphic from Stevil's  Good Frames Won't Save Bad Paintings.  See for yourself.  Click it, it might get bigger.  It usually does.

I am six feet, one inch tall.  I don't think I can put away that many beers (beers that I'd want to drink anyway) without fairly dire consequences.  I'd have to pace myself - like for days.  I'm betting there's a time limit on this party.

But, if you're coming to, or are from, the greater Seattle area, the who, what, when, where, and why are on the graphic.  I guess, if the weather's going to be pretty crappy next weekend, I could give it a go anyway.  Maybe I could slouch down.....a LOT.  My liver is already giving me the stink-eye just from talking about it.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cabin Fever

Due to unforeseen drivers, I was forced inside most all weekend.  Specifically, a work project heated up to critical and I spent most of the weekend indoors doing engineering (grumble, grumble, grumble).  The weather was great.  But, there I was, doing calculations.

Fortunately for me this coming weekend is a three-day weekend.  My initial game plan was to drive to North Cascades National park, park the car where the road ends, and then backpack for three days.

My intent was to drive to where the Hannegan Trail / Pacific Northwest Trail started, stash the vehicle, and then hike the Hannegan Trail to the Chilliwack Trail, and then set up camp at the U.S. Cabin campsite.  Given it is rugged and about ten miles, I figured that would be my Friday.

Saturday I was going to leave camp setup there and explore the Bush Creek Trail ending up back at camp for the evening.  Sunday I was planning on reversing course back to the vehicle.  Then I found the trails report:

Hannegan Pass Trail mostly snow covered, with solid snow coverage after the first ~2 miles. last 1/2 mile of Hannegan Road is still snow covered and impassable to vehicles. Crossing Hannegan Pass requires ice axe and routefinding skills. Expect Chilliwack trail to be snow covered above 3500'. Bear Creek Camp is over-grown but useable. Cable car and horse ford at the southern crossing of the Chilliwack. Use caution during high water events.
Trail not maintained north of Bear Creek Camp. Access via Canada very difficult (consider it a cross country route) due to trail washouts and downed trees.

OK, plan "B."  I've always a plan "B."  Before we get to that, here's what I read about this area of North Cascades National Park:

The Copper Ridge area draws serious backpackers--and sometimes hardy day hikers or trail runners--to its lofty ridgeline, one of the few such high trails within the national park. Combined with the scenic Chilliwack River Trail, the beautiful old growth valley route that follows the Chilliwack River from its source near Hannegan Pass to Chilliwack Lake in Canada, this is a popular but strenuous backpacking loop.
For longer backpacking trips and a true immersion in wilderness, hikers can take a side trip up the Brush Creek Trail to Whatcom Pass, or continue onward to Ross Lake or State Route 20 via the Little Beaver or Big Beaver trails.

Perhaps this will be better later in July or early August.  I'll keep my eye on the website for trail conditions updates.  Back to Plan "B" - Goodell Creek Campground, Newhalem Creek Campground, Gorge Lake Campground, and Colonial Creek Campground are all open.  A dude could setup base at Colonial Creek and either do some daily out and backs, or, hit the trail with a full backpack and camp overnight at some of the primitive sites while making a loop around Ruby Mountain.

The park's got a nice Wilderness Planner page on its website HERE.  There's a link way at the bottom of that page to a Wilderness Map.  All the campsites and trails are on there.  Handy AND dandy!

Regardless, I'll not be kept inside next weekend.  The deciding factor on where I land is weather dependent.  I'm guessing by Wednesday I'll have the destination figured out.  What if the weather's crappy everywhere?  Well, there's always plan "C....."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Like Riding Uphill

It's been about a month since I went to North Bend and rode the Snoqualmie Trail to Rattlesnake Lake and then the John Wayne Pioneer Trail up toward Snoqualmie Pass.  Whenever that was, I didn't make the goal of the tunnel through the pass due to heavy snow on the trail.  It's time to go back.

I'm hoping in the past month the snow is off the trail and a dude can roll to the tunnel.  Not only roll to the tunnel but roll through the tunnel.  The Snoqualmie Pass tunnel is an old railroad tunnel and is 2.3 miles long.  That's pretty long.  Long enough, in fact, I'll take lights for the bike along.

I haven't seen the eastern slope of the Cascades since I moved here in February.  And even then, it was night and dark.  It would be kind of cool to see how the other side lives.  Regardless if the snow is gone or gone enough, it will be all uphill from Rattlesnake Lake.  The upside to this downside is it will be all downhill once turned around.  I call it, "Earning the Beer."

Sunday I may, or may not, hit the Washington Brewer's Festival.  Judging from the beer line up, this looks like a dandy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mt Rainier National Park Unabridged, Or.....

.....Let's get this party started!

Just so we're all on the same page I suppose I'll throw down a few ground rules.  First, what I type may, or may not, have anything to do with the pictures in which my words are intermingled. Second, if you click on the pictures, they do get bigger.  Lastly, I'll provide a link*** to the whole set of pictures sometime, somewhere.  Okay?  Okay!

I departed my place bound for Mt Rainier National Park last Friday morning.  I had one pit-stop to make at REI - Tacoma, but other than that it was pretty much a straight shot.

I rolled into the park and setup camp in the Ohanapecosh campsite.

There were warning labels on every picnic table.

Once camp was set up it was time to feed and then explore the immediate surroundings.  The river in the picture below was roughly 50 yards, that's 150 feet for those not familiar with the metric system*, from my campsite.  The rushing water sound was both theraputic and also muted sounds of any neighbors.

Friday I loaded up the back pack with a full water bladder, an extra layer, first aid kit, and bear spray.  For the record, I did not see any bears.**  I made my way north along the Ohanapecosh river to the Grove of the Patriarchs trail.  I hiked that, too.

I did find that really cool pedestrian suspension bridge I'd been across the last time I was there.  
The deck is not rigid and moves around a bit when you walk across it.  It's fun to see elderly people have a death grip on the side cables as they cross.

I went out on the west side of the river but came back on a different trail on the east side.  That deviation allowed me to get some pictures of Silver Falls.

Saturday I was up early-ish to go hiking again.  This time I went out on the same trail I'd taken the day before but took the left fork at the first junction and onto the Cowlitz Divide trail.  I was hoping to make it up to, and intersect, the Wonderland Trail.

Judging by the map, I made it to within about one mile of the goal.  At that point the snow became deep enough I could no longer distinguish where the trail was.

Side note - this area has lots of Douglas Fir trees and Redwoods as well.  The next two pictures are sort of glommed together to sort of show how tall they are.  If you look AND pay attention, you'll be able to match mark them by the shadow on the trunk.

Given melted areas by trees and my post holing, the snow was about four feet deep at the turn-around point.

One of the things I picked up at REI on the way to the park was moleskin.  I'm glad I had it.  I was starting to get some hot spots on my big toes.  I moleskinned them up and added some athletic tape to boot.  No blisters!

Sunday I was up early and had a similar plan - hike a trail until I attained a goal or was thwarted by snow.  Sunday's trail choice was the Laughingwater Trail.

There's a primitive campground at Three Lakes.  I was hoping to make it to there to check it out.  In other weekends I'd like to backpack to there, camp there, and maybe explore part of the Pacific Crest Trail, too.

The trail was pretty much up from the get-go.  Some parts were pretty steep and others not quite as much.  Trail crews had not cleared the deadfall from the winter.  There were quite a few trees to hop over, climb under, or go around.

Once again, judging from the map, I made it to within one mile of the goal before snow cut my journey short.  Though the below picture depicts it as patchy, in the big main set, you'll see a lot.

I made may way back down and past this little lake/pond.  There's no name on the map but I suppose it has one.

The mountain (Mt Rainier) was mostly "out" on Sunday.  I was not patient enough to wait for the clouds to clear a bit before taking the picture.  Hopefully you'll forgive me.  If not, well, I know a place you can go.

It was a GREAT three day weekend in Mt Rainier National Park.  I'm excited to go back again to explore other areas, check out Wonderland and Pacific Crest Trails, and to just be out in the woods.

This coming weekend is the Washington Brewers Festival.  As much fun as this sounds, the weather is supposed to be great again.  I'll probably save beer festivals for the monsoon season.  Good weather season means "outside."  That's where you'll find me.
* I know "yards" is not in the metric system.  You don't have to point this out to me.  Don't be a dick.

** Not only did I not see any bears, I did not see any bear tracks or bear poop. Though this part of the country is supposed to have some of the largest concentrations of black bears, I've yet to see any.  I know, I know - be careful what you wish for.  I've probably now jinxed myself to not only seeing several bears every time I go out in the woods, but, they'll also probably steal my lunch money every time.  Stupid bears.

***The link to the whole picture set is HERE.  If you're going to go there, I recommend you click on the "slideshow" option.  It's near the top on the right-hand side.  It has arrow pointing right inside of a box.  Click it.  It makes the whole thing more gooder.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Mt Rainier National Park Abridged

I made it back later on Sunday from three days of living in a tent in the woods in Mt. Rainier National Park.  I managed to take 162 pictures.

Here's the short version:


The full version, with photos, to follow on Wednesday and maybe spilling into Friday.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I've all my crap gear packed and ready to hit the road.  I've a few minor things to do and then I'll start driving south and east to Mt. Rainier National Park.  I've a pit-stop planned for REI - Tacoma and then I'll get to the park.

Perusing the Park's website, it appears only the Ohanapecosh campsite is open.  Since I'm gear dialing in I'm not planning on wilderness camping this particular trip, this is my target location.  However, as I was looking at the website, I found some sites to try.

The Wonderland Trail circumnavigates Mt. Rainier in 93 miles.  The website suggests it takes 10 - 14 days to hike the thing.  The website also notes the primitive campsites along the trail.  If you're thinkin' what I'm thinkin' then you know what I'll be doing in subsequent three-day (and even two-day) weekends!

Back to this weekend - I've my camera ready, gear packed, and am out the door soon-ish.  If I get back at a reasonable hour on Sunday, I'll have a recap with some pictures for a post on Monday.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Campin' Time!

Lately the weather has been stellar.  The sun is shining and the daily high temperatures are in the 70's.  It's time to go camping.

This coming weekend is my three-day weekend.  I'm going to take advantage by throwing some gear in the vehicle and making my way to Mt. Rainier National Park.

I've done a bit of campground research online and will decide on the campsite soon-ish.  My game plan is to set up a base camp and do day hikes and such from there.  I've two new pieces of gear I wish to test out.

The first is the Big Agnes Q-Core sleeping pad.

The second is a Sawyer gravity water purification system.

I'm looking forward to three days in the woods, hiking and taking pictures, and trying out the new gear.  I'll pack up either Thursday evening or Friday morning and make the two hour (or a bit less) drive Friday.  Since bikes are not allowed on the trails, I'll probably go sans bike.  Full report to follow.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Gear Up Expo 2013

Saturday morning I was up early to depart the domicile by 5:00 AM in order to make the 6:20 AM ferry crossing from Bremerton to Seattle allowing at little Starbucks time before boarding.  I met co-worker Dan down at the corner and we made our way.  The sun was coming up as we rounded the horn of Sinclair inlet bound for Bremerton.

There's not much traffic at 5:00 AM and the ride was pleasant.  We arrived with ample time to coffee up at Starbucks before boarding the ferry.

Once off the boat, we pointed the bikes north.  We didn't get 1/4 mile before we noticed the shrimp-like looking bike rack.

The purpose of the journey as to attend the Gear Up Expo in Everett.  Since the distinct possibility I wasn't going to walk out of the Expo without purchasing some gear, I opted to ride a bike built for carrying.

I didn't know what we were going to find along the way.  Certainly, Excellence was hoped for but not necessarily counted on.  However, we did manage to find Excellence.

Rolling north through Seattle we passed through a zoo parking lot.  Baboons were aplenty.


Shortly after leaving the zoo, we found what we were looking for - Thee Interurban Trail.  Thee Interurban Trail is a bike trail that runs for Seattle north to at least Everett.  It's paved and mostly off streets.  I believe most (some?) of it is rails to trails type.  The trail proved to be frustratingly wonderfully quirky.  It was sometimes well marked, sometimes marked in somewhat hidden places, and other times not marked at all.  Route finding skills were needed.  Once we missed a turn or two and needed to back-track, we were on to their system.

It was a 38 mile journey from the ferry terminal to Comcast Arena.  With stopping for pictures, drinks/snacks, and back tracking, it was about a three hour cruise.

There were gear vendors including paddle boards, clothing, climbing gear, SCUBA gear, bikes, camping (including tents) and some other stuff I'm forgetting to list.  There were tour companies, food companies, trail associations, and more(!).

The highlight of the Expo (at least for me) was Jim Whittaker.  First, I met him at the booth where he was selling and signing his book.  Then he spoke about his life outdoors from being the first American to summit Mt. Everest in 1963, to help launch and CEO REI, to sailing around the South Pacific for four years with his wife and two sons, to meeting and interacting with the Kennedys (yes, THEE Kennedys, like John  and Bobby).

Due to a technical computer glitch at the beginning of his talk, he held everyone's interest by telling some stories not in his book and were not going to be part of his talk.  Though I didn't get a picture of it, an interesting part of his clothing was his black and white checked Vans shoes.

Right after Jim Whittaker spoke, we saddled up and began our trek south to Seattle and the ferry.  Along the Interurban Trail, there were several signs placed very close to each other and with the same, though slightly modified, picture.  If you rode by fast and were in a good lane position, it was like a flip book cartoon.

Hungry and thirsty for good beer we made a stop in the Fremont neighborhood for some food and beverages.  Though both the food and beer were grand, now we were in danger of missing the 7:55 PM ferry departure.  The next one wasn't going to be until 9:05 PM.

As we pulled into the waterfront trail portion of our ride, it was five minutes to ferry departure and we were too far away to make it even sprinting.  We decided to accept our fate and began to take our time.  We stopped to pee and lazily rode in the direction of the ferry terminal.

We pulled in to discover the ferry was late getting in.  Apparently, a kayaker was in peril and the incoming ferry stopped to assist and bring him in.  We paid our fares and made the 7:55 PM ferry even though it departed at 8:25 PM.

Back in Bremerton, we unloaded and took a last picture as the ferry was pulling out heading back to Seattle.  We had a short wait for the foot ferry to take us across Sinclair Inlet and back to Port Orchard.

It was a fun, albeit long, day.  I ended up with just over 80 miles of riding.  After arriving home a quick shower cleaned me off but did nothing to reinvigorate me.  I was asleep soon after head hit pillow.

This coming weekend is my three-day weekend.  The longer term forecast is for sunny weather all week and into the weekend.  I'm thinking a return to Mt. Rainier National park with adequate gear for over-nighting.  I'd like to explore some hiking trails I've not been on yet and get some camping out in the woods.