Friday, September 14, 2012

June 2010- Neah Bay Area, WA

I have been in Washington a long time and never made it out to Neah Bay and always wanted to go and finally did.  This is one of the most beautiful spots in the state and we have many of them!

We stayed at Chito Beach Resorts and this is a very cozy and cool place.  Allie and her husband are the owners and are really nice and helpful.  Each cabin has a theme and Allie has the smallest of details covered.  We stayed in the Wolf’s Den and even the drawer knobs have wolf heads on them!  The cabin has many amenities and is well stocked as far as utensils and even has tea and coffee stocked in the kitchen.  Wireless internet is included and the Wolf’s Den has a big picture window to watch the water when eating inside.  The cabin has chairs on the porch, a picnic table and its own BBQ. 

The mattress here are extremely comfy that you don't want to get out of bed!

View from Wolf's Den
View from Wolf's Den

Front porch of Wolf's Den

Great place to stay and relax and close to Neah Bay, the ONP (Olympic National Park) and other fun things to do.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

May 2010- Waldport, OR

I won an auction to stay at the Captain’s House in Waldport, OR and selected the holiday weekend.  I have never spent any time on the Oregon coast, so was excited to go!

The drive down was long especially through Portland, but arrived after a scenic 9 hour drive.

The house itself was okay, but the bedding was old, worn and too soft for me and wasn’t pleasant to sleep on.  However, the beach was spectacular!!  This house sits right smack dab in the middle of 6 miles of beach. 

Beach view

The first day, we walked 3 miles to the north to the bridge going into Newport and it was nothing short of awesome.  Played in the surf, with other people’s dogs and had a blast.  I love the sound of the surf, as it soothes the soul.

Walking North

After a long day of walking, BBQ’d up some salmon and ate dinner on the back deck, watching the surf go by and the sunset!  We came to calling sitting on the deck, “assume the position”.  We would sit there for hours and just watch and veg out.

Sunset on the beach
The next day, we walked 3 miles to the south, and had a nice day.  Upon returning to the house, after BBQing dinner, we again assumed the position to watch the world go by and relaxing.

Looking South

It was raining the next day as we left, but we enjoyed our stay at the Captain’s house and especially the beach.  We hope to return to stay again someday soon.

Back from Hiatus

Back to blogging from my hiatus called grad school and now I have to catch up, as I’m 18 months behind.  The following are short reviews of places I did get to visit while in school.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Feb 27-28, 2010-Sun Mt Lodge-Days 2-3

Awoke to a very nice and sunny day and was hoping to get some skiing in, but that wasn't going to happen today.  Instead, I had heard about a guided nature tour around the lodge by a local biologist and was thinking about going but wanted to asses the snow first.

The room was gorgeous.  Big bathroom with a big shower and jacuzzi tub, a nice gas fireplace and a king size bed.  All the art in the room was designed and made by local artist including the headboard. Nice!

The dining room for breakfast was great with a nice view.  The dining room sits over a ledge and you can see out over the Methow Valley.  Beautiful!  I had the egg skillet and it was huge and I almost ate all of it, giving a good try.  Definitely could share that item with someone else.

I went on the nature hike with a guy named Hans, a local biologist and found out its a small world and Hans works with one of my classmates.  The hike was maybe a couple of miles long and took about an hour, but I learned about the native plants, the beaver dam that was manmade to bring the beaver back to the Valley.  However, Hans pointed out the beavers are in a political fight amongst the locals as they want to tear down the dam over water rights.  Hans and I hope not.

We were on snow-shoes but could have easily walked and Hans seemed concerned over the lack of tracks.  All in all, it was a great learning experience and Hans was a very nice guide.  It was a good time.
After the hike, I got ready for my massage.

Brianne was my masseuse and I had an hour hot-rock massage which was divine!  Why haven't I had one of these before?  I'll have to have another one those soon!

Dinner in the dining room was a one-of a-kind experience and it lived up to its 4 diamond rating.  My waiter Steve was very knowledgeable about the menu and I began with a salad with roasted nuts and a truffle vinaigrette.  Lovely and main course was antelope with a blackberry sauce.  Very nice. Dessert was the chocolate fantasy ending a very impressive meal.  After dinner, I played a few games of pool in the game room.  I was so stuffed from dinner, there was no way I could have gone back to the room.

The next day another great breakfast, a drive home with a stop in Leavenworth rounded out a very nice weekend.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Feb 26, 2010 Sun Mountain Lodge Day 1

Okay, I admit this is a different posting but I finally decided to go out to Winthrop, WA and the Sun Mountain Lodge.  Winthrop is know for its cross-country ski trails and the Sun Mountain Lodge is a 4 diamond rated resort and dining room.  My trip dates were Feb 26-28.

The drive out was uneventful and took 5 hours.  I took the I-90-US 97 route since it was snowing on Steven's Pass and Snoqualmie Pass was wet with no snow.  It was shocking on the drive over that once I was east of the pass, there was NO SNOW.  For us that means a probable drought this summer.

I arrived in Winthrop early with plans on meeting up with a friend and seeing her new house.  It's beautiful with a great view along with heated flooring and wood beam ceilings.  Very nice!
Winthrop had some snow maybe 3-4 feet left and that is way below there average as well.  This doesn't bode well for a weekend of skiing.  About 3 pm, it started snowing pretty good, so we jumped up to go skiing.  I went to check in at the Lodge with my friends meeting me there.

The Lodge is perched up on a small mountain sitting 1100 ft above the Methow Valley.  I got checked in  and see ensured my reservations were confirmed for my massage tomorrow.  Odd thing here, when I inquired about dining room reservations, she kept trying to talk me out of it, directing me to eat at the more casual lounge.  Now, I didn't come all this way to eat in the casual lounge and she finally made my dining room reservation for Saturday night. Not really sure what that was all about and I sure wouldn't expect that from a 4 diamond rated resort.

Upon arrival at the room, I really didn't want to leave to go skiing.  It was more than I had hoped for and gave a sense of solitude and living it up!  However, I had to changed into ski clothing and run out the door to meet my friends.

The entry way to the room

We went down the mountain to a trail head close by and skied the Little Wolf trail, rated easy and it was fun.  It has been quite a few years since I've been on skis, but the trail was easy including the hills.  Since we started after 4 pm, we didn't need a trail pass, which was nice.

We finished up about 530 pm and got dropped off with plans for dinner at my friend's house.  I got things settled and headed back down into town.  The roads were slick and it was a very slow drive.  I had a nice dinner and visit, but since the snow was still coming down, it was eat and run.

Arriving back at the SML, I enjoyed my room with plans to really enjoy this weekend.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Jan16, 2010- Alexander Falls, Whistler, BC-snow shoeing

The day started out nice and we were supposed to cross country ski, but it had been raining for the last few days and the snow was sparse and crusty, not ideal conditions.

We went to the Olympic Nordic Center outside of Whistler and people were XC skiing, I don't like to skiing on crusty snow, so we opted to snow shoe a 4 km loop track.  However, after talking with the staff, he told me to back track the way we came as the back side of the loop is a steep descent and was extremely icy after yesterday's rain.

The track start down and is a rolling hill track and was very beautiful in the afternoon sun with soft, crunchy snow.  It took a few minutes getting used to the shoes and trusting their grip.

Olympic ski jump area

Hilly trail

Creek along the trail

The trail was marked with ribbons on trees and in some parts cut out.  The most challenging part was getting down to the river.  The trail ended and you just had to sit on your butt and slide down a very short, steep and icy hill.  Once down, it was a beautiful site.


It was a short distance to the falls and they were gorgeous!  They were running fast and loud:

                   Alexander Falls

The hike back was uneventful and it was a fun 3 mile hike through a winter wonderland.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wonderland Trail Day 12: Indian Bar to White River

Aug 20
Mileage: 13.5 miles
Indian Bar: 5120 ft
White River: 4300 ft

I didn't sleep particularly well as I was too wound up about finishing up.  I had set my alarm for 0500 and woke up at 0450, so got up and went up the hill for a facilities visit and to grab the food bag.  I had some tea and breakfast watching the sunrise and it was spectacular!  After that, started packing up and getting ready to go.  Also, I ate another meal and left camp around 0650 leaving my camp neighbors in their slumber.

Indian Bar shelter across
the river with the sunrise

I had to cross the river twice leaving camp once via the bridge the other via over a rock bridge and glad I left early in the day because in the afternoon the river runs higher with the melt-off so those rocks are under water.  I had to look for rock cairns to navigate through some of the river bed and then headed uphill towards the Panhandle Gap not knowing what really to expect up there.  By 0800 it was getting warm and I worked my way uphill and the scenery was really beautiful.  I kept turning around to look towards the south and Mt. Adams and for a while I could look down and see the Indian Bar group shelter.  Finally, I made the ridge and took a break and took a bunch of pictures as all around me were spectacular views.  I kept looking around for the Gap not knowing really what it looked like and kept guessing it was higher up.

Looking southeast to Mt. Adams


Trail behind me

I kept walking and enjoying the view along the way and finally started a down the trail and crossed a snow field and kept picking up rock cairns to navigate through the area and then started back uphill to the Gap.  I then remembered reading that the PG (Panhandle Gap) had some trees by it and there it was right in front of me.   Finally, I ran into another guy solo hiker, we talked a bit and I told him about the bear.  He was surprised about that!  From that point the trail went up and down and I had to cross another snow field which had no rock cairns so wasn't sure which way to go after crossing it, but found some boot prints and kept moving.  I then had a long climb up to the saddle heading down to Summerland.  I felt good and also felt I was making good time.

Trail heading to the PG

PG in front of me

Trail heading to Summerland

I took some pictures atop the saddle as the views words...I had the mountain to my left, blue lakes with Summerland below me and valleys along with the east Casade Mountains behind me.  About this time, I saw 2 hikers coming up the hill and what do you know, it was the brother and sister with the huge packs that I met on the west side.  Kelly and Doug introduced themselves and we exchanged stories about our trail adventures.  Kelly's pack was much smaller so she must have dumped some stuff somewhere and I told them about the bears.  I asked about camp and they pointed to where it was and mentioned that it was a very steep and rocky descent.  They then departed for the PG and I headed downhill.

No words!

They weren't kidding on the descent, it was all rock and very slow going for me with my knees aching and watching my step so my ankle doesn't roll.  Also, it was hot now and lots of day hikers out and about.  I ran into a foursome that I met on the west side and talked with them and they took a picture of me.  It is nice going CCW as one of the benefits of the direction is seeing people a second time and see how they are doing.  Another benefit is not many people go this way and it is nice to have some space.

Doug had told me to get water before going to camp as there was a stream by the river, so arriving by the bridge to Fryingpan Creek, I dropped the pack and took a break to rehydrate, rest and refill the bladder.  After hitting the trail again, I crossed the logbridge over the creek and the river was high.  The trail was still rocky, downhill and now slick with water.  I just took my time walking to be safe and stopped for pictures frequently.  Finally, the rock gave way to dirt trail and I was never so happy to see a dirt trail as I was at that moment.  My feet and knees were hurting bad and I began to wonder if I could make it to my car some 9.5 miles away.  I crossed small creeks and beautiful wild flowers some that I haven't seen before.  I arrived at the group shelter about 1115 but I didn't care that I walked a mile an hour here as this area is so stunning you have to stop and look or what's the point.

Rainer with Summerland

I dropped my pack and noticed a woman hiking in a dress and she was at Devil's Dream, so another person I've seen twice.  I walked towards the toilet as the toilet here is a solar powered compositing type.  Sitting in the shade was a group of asian women enjoying the lunch of sushi and bento boxes.  I just laughed about the fact that they hiked up here with those things in their packs.  As I walked by they all said hi to me and got all excited about something.  I went back to the shelter and broke out the stove and got some water started for lunch.  I had pulled out a chili with rice meal and got water on it to rehydrate it.  It was really good!

About that time, a guy came into camp and he looked familiar and a few minutes later the woman he was hiking with.  I then remembered meeting them on the west side and the woman starting talking with me remembering me as well for the GPS.  They ended up hanging out with me for an hour or so.  Again we compared notes and they told me that I gave them good info and that I gave the best tips on the trail out of anyone.  That was a nice compliment from someone.  Steph and Dave were from Vancouver, WA and pretty much did the same route as myself except they were going CW.  They asked about my food so I explained to them about dehydrating and making my own meals.  It felt good to sit and eat and take an extended break with my boots off.  After an hour or so, Steph and Dave were leaving and heading towards Indian Bar, so we said our good-byes. (Note to Steph and Dave; I've looked for your blog with no luck, so if you ever read this, email or leave a comment so I can contact you guys)

I got packed and ready to go and then the Asian ladies were all standing by the trail out of camp, so they all wanted to know about my trip.  A few knew English and translated for the rest of the group and they were all amazed I was hiking by myself and the distance I have walked.  They get together to day hike and go somewhere different all the time.  An older lady then came into camp with the Asian ladies all excited about her, so with my 15 minutes of fame up, I bid them good-bye and left camp at 1400.

Distances from this point forward vary and the rangers told me it was 9 miles, so that's what I was expecting with the trail signs showing less.  I left heading downhill in the heat of the day on a full belly feeling good except for my knees ached and my feet sore, but no worries, I was heading home!  I ran into a mother/daughter team out day hiking and talked with them and they took some pictures of me.  The trail went down via switchbacks until the second crossing of Fryingpan Creek and into the cooler forest.  Steph had told me that the trail was wide, very nice and flat in some parts.  She was right and it was a nice hike down but the knees and feet were starting to hurt in a big way and I began to wonder if maybe I should have stayed in camp.  Dayhikers passed me from both directions and finally I made to the junction that heads to White River with the sign reading 2.7 miles.  I was happy with less than 3 miles to go!  I just shook my head as the trail headed uphill.  This part of the trail is new and was completed in 2004, so I wasn't too happy to see any uphill at this point. I came to another junction with a trail sign saying 1.7 miles to White River and more uphill.  I was cussing at this point as I've just hiked all these miles and have to finish hiking uphill!!!

Actually, after this uphill climb the trail leveled out and was very nice and I was hoping to make it to the car in about an hour.  This is the part where the hair on the back of my neck stood up and I felt like I was being watched hoping it wasn't another bear!  I couldn't take another run-in with a bruin and up the trail I found fresh bear scat on the trail probably an hour old or so.  GREAT!!  I kept looking around and making heaps of noise to scare any potential bears in the hood off.  I also picked up the pace as the GPS showed me less than a mile away!  I was starting to wonder when I would head downhill when the trail headed down just for a little bit and then the trail popped out on the river bed.  Wow, I'm almost done!!!!

Heading out of the forest
to the river bed

White River crossing

I followed the rock cairns and trail to the log bridge and my last river crossing.  This one was the scariest of them all, as the river was really high and fast being late in the day and the log bridge was different from the rest as you crossed one and had to step down onto another.  I took my time and some pictures and walked through the picnic area to my car arriving at 1810.  I had just completed the WLT solo and probably walked 95 miles with the trail detours!!  There was no big celebration, just an urgent need to get my boots off as both my feet were numb.  I dropped my pack, got the boots off and relaxed for a bit.  I had a young lady walking through the parking lot take my picture, post hike celebration complete.  We talked for a bit and she was working a summer job up at Sunrise and had summited Rainier early in the season.

I got cleaned up, changed and packed up the car and left.  It felt weird driving again and I realized how exhausted I really was.  Both my feet felt like ground hamburger and were numb and I was worried about that and wondering why as well.  I drove to Enumclaw and did something I never ever do, stopped at McDonald's and got something to eat I was so hungry.  I sat in the parking lot eating and called both Jim and Dawn to let them know I finished and was on the way home.  


I had the next 3 days off of work and just did post hike recovery by sleeping and relaxing.  I did stretch as much as possible.  I couldn't wear shoes for like 10 days and even went to work with sandals on.
The following week I was back in the gym working out and getting back to my normal routine.

I tried to curb my appetite as I didn't want to eat like I was still on the trail.  Last time I did that, I gained a bunch of the weight back, so wanted to be conscious of my diet this time around.

People often asked me 'was it worth it?' or 'would I do it again?'  My intial responses were, 'not sure' and 'ask me in six months'.  Now after a month, I would answer 'yes' and 'yes' with looking at another go in 2012.

When I arrived back at work, my team of guys had a command post on the wall.   I was really touched.  They had put pins in the map when I arrived at camp and even printed out my SPOT maps for the all the days.  Nothing beats some crew love!!!

I hope you enjoyed this blog of  my journey around the mountain.