In Pursuit of Fresh Air and Excellent Coffee. (not usually in that order)

Haybrook Lookout

It was a rainy day last Saturday, so I picked a short hike with a long drive. I listened to Mstislav Rostopovich play Bach’s Cello Concertos (favorite), and then I listened to what is becoming my favorite book, David Copperfield, on Audible.com. This is my second time through.

It was hard to get out of the car, after the two-hour drive in the pouring rain, but out I got, with my light pack and umbrella, and once I started walking, the endorphins kicked in and the rain was nothing. Know what I mean? I was really glad that my waterproof boots were in fact waterproof. They were cheap hi-tecs. I certainly wasn’t going to wear my summer keens that breath so well. :)

The walk is actually very short, but it was enough to get me moving and out of the winter house. The steps of the tower are narrow and steep, so watch your step. The top layer is padlocked, but just under that is a nice deck out of the rain, where I had a snack and took pictures. I’m glad I went, but for the drive, it would be nice to hit it on a day with more of a view. I love the rain and the fresh air.

Chocolate Milk Latte

I’ve got to get the hang of enduring on my steaming until I have good microfoam.  This latte was amazing.  The beans were roasted night-before-last, and were a 50-50 blend of a natural processed Ethiopian (dry processed), and a Guatemala.  So fine.

Sheep Lake and Sourdough Gap

I had to get outside today, it was “partly cloudy,” which is usually as good as it gets this time of year.  The hike from the parking lot at the top of Chinook Pass (By Naches Peak) was super easy, almost flat for the first mile or two, in fact pretty much all the way to the lake.  Well, there was some elevation gain, but not a lot.  The creek that drains from the lake has a little bridge, from which I actually saw a juvinile trout swimming upstream into the lake.


From there I went up to Sourdough Gap


Looking back toward Chinook Pass through Sourdough Gap

The PCT drops down into the valley, but if you keep going straight, where the PCT drops down, you can go up over another ridge and down into the Crystal Lake area, where you can see Mount Rainier.


Morse Creek Basin


Morse Creek Basin


Camp Robber with Crystal Lake beyond.



This thing must have a name. Anyone? It may be “Peak 6708″



The light is bad, but this is the top of Chinook Pass. In fact that light ribbon in the middle is where my car is parked.

This last weekend was my 3rd hike to the top of Mount Si, my second to the top of Haystack. You already knew this thing I’m about to say, so you can roll your eyes and feel sorry for me. But I’ve always assumed Rattlesnake Ledge was to the East of the Mount Rainier view. It took me a bit of map-staring to realize it’s just West of the line to Mount Rainier. I’ve annotated one of my images, in case you’re interested.

Rattlesnake Ledge from Mount Si:


Summer Hikes, 2014

I started the summer with two hikes on Rattlesnake Ledge Trail and another at Iron Horse State Park that are not in the list below. All of the hikes combined total over 100 miles.

Besides proper clothing, One of the biggest costs is the knee pain on the way down, every single time there’s a descent, my knees take a beating.  They’re better in 12 hours or so, but the trip down is brutal.


Rattlesnake Ledge Trail

I almost waited too late last Sunday to go hiking up the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail.  It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, and Washington was out in force, ready to hike, swim and otherwise make use of the Rattlesnake Lake Recreational Area.  The crowd on the trail was interesting, lots of “excuse me,” and “thanks,” as crowds of folks met and passed on the trail.

It’s funny what you hear in close proximity to America on a hike.  I heard a chatty couple on a date, maybe their first.  I heard a little girl observe as she ascended some not-quite-natural steps in the trail that “someone’s been customizing this mountain.”  I heard a woman explaining to another one, as they passed going the other direction, that “you usually have to explain things to her several times” [maybea coworker].  I passed a dog.  He seemed to be perfectly fine by himself. Who knows if his owners were behind or in front of him.  I passed a man with his dad, saying, “you can’t tell me you don’t miss this, Dad – the smell of Washington in the summer.”  I overheard the comical conversation of a group of three buxom girls – I suppose I should say women, but given their conversational prowess, “girls” seems apropo – in “sports” attire, meaning spandex, and very little of it.  One was saying, “it’s probably harder going down than coming up [the trail].”  To which one just blurted out, “are you stupid?” quickly  followed by the third’s “you need to rethink your brain.”  Yep, that’s a quote.  The original girl was quickly trying to recover by pointing out the angle of the hill.  Brutal but funny.

There were out-of-shape 60-somethings gasping for air and sweating; there were small children; there were wild-eyed berserkers – shirtless runners ascending the hill like it was flat.  There were “serious” hikers, with significant gear; there was a little girl who had decided she wasn’t going back down, and her mother was sort of coaxing and pleading with her, while her brother was yelling, “mom, come on.”  There were men with babies in papooses, and women carrying babies.  There were just tons of people out for a walk with tons of other people, and everyone was content to hike together.

Me?  I had managed to get a late start, and was on a strenuous walk without a water source.  So I went about half-way and turned back.  I decided on a similarly impromptu hike a few weeks ago at Iron Horse State Park, that I want to try and consider each place I’m at on the trail as “the destination.”  I had stopped at a little waterfall and had my lunch, and as I sat there in the quiet, I decided that “this spot, right here on this hill, this is what I came to see.”  That way, I’m always content to breathe, and look around, and get the most out of every moment, instead of missing what is around me as I strive to get to “the top,” or “over there,” it’s all the same.  One spot is as beautiful as another.