Exploring the Alpine Lakes Wilderness – Gem and Snow Lakes













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Shelters from the storm- a night on a mountain top in a historic fire Lookout.

Forecast called for a weekend of heavy rain and high winds. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to forego my decidedly wimpy 3-season tent in favor of something sturdier and more robust.

The Park Butte Lookout, built in the early 1930’s seemed like a good choice.







Alpine Tarn, the calm after the storm.


Pocket Lake


Sunrise after the storm.


Mighty Koma Kulshan


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Autumn hike to the Rampart Lakes via Lake Lillian

The Rampart Lakes have been on my short list for a long time! Most folks go via the Rachel Lake trail, but I’d heard about a different route that sneaks you in via a steep boot trail that’s not on any map.


Fall colors on the Lake Lillian boot trail

The trail is ridiculously steep in some areas. Fun!


Lake Lillian!











Foggy and wet!


First glimpse of the Rampart Lakes through the fog-


Made it!


Surprised how many other folks are camping out in the cold wet weather!


Still managed to score a nice lakeside spot with a nice view 🙂



The weather only got worse – drizzle and rain. Fortunately I stayed warm and dry in my little tent ⛺


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Day tripping the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington, USA

Another beautiful warm sunny summer day in Washington- let’s go hiking!


Headed out with a friend and co-worker from Morocco- no idea what kind of shape he’s in, so decided we’d start with the easy hike to Talapus Lake and see how it went.


Beautiful Talapus Lake!


Ibrahim was keen to press on, so on we went!


I thought we’d head to Pratt Lake, but when we reached the junction to the Mount Defiance Trail we decided to hang a left and go check out Island and Rainbow Lakes. Got a bit steep in spots, but Ibrahim powered on!


Rainbow Lake- no better spot to enjoy a Black Raven Trickster IPA ^_^




Chillin at Rainbow Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington, USA!

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Ibrahim found a nice shady spot to chill 🙂


Adios Rainbow Lake- would be fun to come back here for an overnight!


Oh, and the blueberries!!

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Like something out of a Monet painting!


Island Lake!

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A shitter with a view!

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Ollalie Lake!

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Happy Trails!

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Independence Day at Hidden Lake, North Cascades National Park, Washington, USA

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” William Shakespeare

Welcome to the Hidden Lake trail!

Hidden Lake Lookout


North Cascades


8.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 3300 ft.
Highest Point: 6900 ft.


Not a very long trail, but it’s got some nice vertical!


Gorgeous day- July 3rd, 2015!


Flowers in bloom as far as the eye can see!

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First glimpse of Hidden Lake Lookout, perched in what looks like an impossible spot far above!

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Off in the distance- magnificent Mount Baker!DSC_1285

First look at Hidden Lake!DSC_1287

First look inside the Hidden Lake Lookout!


Built in 1931!!


Surrounded by mountains on all sides!

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A nice library in the lookout- I chose the history of the Mountaineers- a great read!



It was a tough hike up with a very heavy pack- I think I’ve earned this!

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The sun is dropping towards the western horizon and Hidden Lake is quickly in shadow-




Sunset on the Hidden Lake Lookout- DSC_1315 DSC_1316 DSC_1317Edit

Say hello to my little friend 😉DSC_1328 DSC_1329 DSC_1330

Moon over the Cascades!


Moon over the Hidden Lake Lookout!


Good morning selfie 🙂


Time to hit the lake! It’s a lot farther than it looks!

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Amazing blue waters and rugged shoreline of Hidden Lake-

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Chilled in an ice cold mountain stream- no better spot for a picnic and Vitamin R 😉


Hidden Lake selfie 😉


Back to the lookout-


Who needs 4th of July fireworks when you’ve got a sunset like this? ^_^

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Couldn’t ask for nice accommodations!


Cleaned and swept and storm door back in place- adios Hidden Lake Lookout! DSC_1379

Plenty of nice camp spots along the Hidden Lake trail-


Amazing fields of wildflowers and swarms of honey bees and butterflies- paradise!!

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Ripe salmon berries at lower elevations really hit the spot!


The End 🙂
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Hiking to Muir Camp, Mount Rainier National Park!


Mount Rainier Area


8.0 miles, roundtrip


Gain: 4640 ft.
Highest Point: 10080 ft.
Starting Point: Paradise Trail-
Massive waterfall at the base of a huge glacier-
Sky looks a bit threatening and there were occasional scattered showers… You don’t want to get stuck on Rainier in bad weather!
That last mile is TOUGH!
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Hiking to Lake Colchuk and Aasgard Pass, gateway to the Enchantments!

This is the second to last weekend before the permit season starts; starting mid-June the only way to overnight in the Enchantments is via a very hard to get permit that is awarded by lottery. Seems I wasn’t the only one out to bag a night before permit season!

Stuart Lake Trailhead:

Stuart Lake Trailhead Sign

Clearly posted: NO DOGS ALLOWED (more on that later…)

No dogs allowed in the Enchantments

Why aren’t dogs allowed here you might ask? Well here’s your answer:

> Dogs are not allowed in the Enchantments for a few reasons. When they were permitted, the goats and ptarmigan disappeared. Measurable levels of fecal coliform pollution were detected in the basin’s pristine alpine lakes. And dog barks sometimes echoed off the surrounding rock through the night, prompting complaints. (http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/A-heavenly-reward-awaits-in-the-Enchantment-Lakes-1157203.php#page-2 )

Anyway, on with the hike!

Nice trail in good shape through the woods with some cool bridges along the way-

Footbridge on the Stuart Lake Trail Crossing some rapids on the Stuart Lake Trail A cool footbridge on the Stuart Lake Trail

As the trail climbs you begin to get some nice views-

View from the Stuart Lake Trail

It’s roughly 4 miles to Lake Colchuk.

OSMand Stuart Lake Trail to Lake Colchuk Map

The effort is well worth it! Welcome to Colchuk Lake!!


The magnificent Dragontail Peak looming above Colchuk Lake!


Stunning clear icy cold glacial blue water- can you see the trout swimming below?

Trout in Lake Colchuk, Alpine Lakes Wilderness!

Pressing on- considering how crowded the trailhead parking was I’m a bit worried about finding a camping spot. The amazing views never quit up here!


I’ve long heard about Washington’s mountain goats, but never seen one until today!

Mountain goat!

Scrambling over some fallen trees I tear a nice hole in my $3.99 Goodwill wool hiking pants…

Holy wool pants

On the plus side I found a really nice spot to camp!

Camping at Colchuk Lake

Ah it felt good to take off the boots and soak my feet in the freezing water of Lake Colchuk!


The day is still young and across the lake Aasgard Pass beckons!


I packed some snacks and water and headed off in the direction of Aasgard Pass, not really thinking I’d go all the way up, but wanting to reach the snow at least. From Colchuk Lake to the top of Aasgard Pass is over 2000 feet of elevation in less than a mile- STEEP!

Up there is Colchuk Glacier!


Looking up towards Aasgard Pass far above- it’s a bit of a scramble just to get to the base-


Beginning the climb-

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It was a tough hike, but the views along the way were simply breathtaking!

Snow crossings on the way to Aasgard Pass DSC_0888 The view from Aasgard Pass

Made it to the top of Aasgard Pass, gateway to the Enchantments!

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Even up here at 7800′ it was warm and sunny- perfect spot for a picnic and a nap! 🙂


The climb was tough and I’m running low on water- time to head back down to Colchuk

Colchuk Lake as seen from Aasgard Pass

To Be Continued!

Categories: backcountry, camping, Environment, Hiking, Inspiration, mountaineering, mountains, National Parks, Outdoors, travelog | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Camping at Snoqualmie Lake, Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Washington, USA

Gorgeous weekend for a hike! Destination: Snoqualmie Lake via the Dorothy Lake Trail! image image image image image image image image image image image image image First glimpse of Snoqualmie Lake below- looks like a camp spot on that spit of land, amazing it’s not taken! image image I got the best spot on the lake! Good thing I hit the trail early! image image image image Beers chilling in the lake 🙂 image image image image image image image image image image image

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Hiking to the summit of Mailbox Peak with a pack full of concrete!

Mountains to Sound Greenway (http://mtsgreenway.org) was asking for volunteers to help haul food, gear and tools up to the summit of Mailbox Peak!


Here’s a great description of the trail from the Washington Trails Association (http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mailbox-peak-old-trail)

The old route up Mailbox Peak holds a special place among the peaks along I-90. It has traditionally been a rough climber’s trail, an unrelentingly steep, rooted, rocky, muddy torture test, a crucible in which the summits of summer are forged. More than almost any other trail, it assaults gravity with single-minded determination, proceeding more or less due east straight up a ridge line to the summit, gaining some 3,800 feet in two and a half miles after an initial short jaunt up a DNR road. There is nary a switchback in sight.

Mountains to Sound Greenway had a table set up at the trailhead where you could grab food, tools, etc to haul up the mountain-


This makes it an attractive, but treacherous, prize for hikers. Scarcely a year goes by that some hapless party doesn’t get lost here, despite the white reflectors that mark the trail. For this reason (and to bring a halt to the horrible erosion associated with the existing trail), the Department of Natural Resources has been building a new trail, on the north side of the peak. This new route, scheduled for completion in 2014, will wend its way to the top in a relatively civilized five miles, though nothing can diminish the elevation gain between the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road and Mailbox’s 4,800-foot summit.


For those still looking for the brutal ascent to the summit, start up the gated road, bypassing the inviting new trail about a hundred feet past the gate, on the left. Roughly a third of a mile from the gate, turn left into the woods. A sign with warnings about the difficulty of the trail (it’s not exaggerating) marks your point of departure. The next fifth of a mile is relatively gentle and scenic, traveling along a runoff stream in tall forest.


And then things get steep. The trail starts climbing and doesn’t stop – a very brief flat section in a third of a mile is a very momentary aberration. In fact, the trail grows steeper and steeper over the next half mile until it is pitching upwards at its steepest angle. Though it may not get any steeper from here, it hardly lets up. Along the way, there are few landmarks to mark your progress, just slight changes in the surroundings. In 0.15 miles, the trail crosses into dark, dense new forest – the least scenic stretch of trail. In 0.15 miles more, the trail starts traveling over exposed roots that are incredibly slippery when wet (which is often). After a third of a mile of these root ladders, break out into the open for the first time. In a quarter mile, the trail heads back into the trees to the north, avoiding an open talus slope to your right. When snow blankets the trail, an unofficial route heads directly over the rocks, but in summer, avoid these rocks. In another fifth of a mile, the trail joins the open ridge for the rest of the way to the summit. On any but the nicest days, a stiff wind blowing from right to left will be your constant companion from here on.


Mailbox is not known for its scenery, but the terrain is not without its rewards. From the first talus slope all the way to the top is proper wilderness, forested with old gnarled trees that have survived the harsh winds of many a winter. On a nice day, the views from the summit are as good as any along I-90. Mailbox stands at the prow of a long ridge, giving it greater prominence – ubiquitous Mount Rainier seems even closer than it does from Bandera or Granite. In early summer, the final half mile is covered in beargrass, lupine, and Indian paintbrush, as well as several other varieties of wildflowers. In winter, every tree, rock and blade of grass along the summit ridge will often be spectacularly rimed with windblown snow and ice.

The greatest reward, however, is merely the joy of the effort itself, of digging deep within yourself to summon the strength to conquer the mighty Mailbox and inscribe your name in the summit register contained – appropriately enough – in a mailbox someone installed at the top.

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Categories: backcountry, camping, Environment, Hiking, Inspiration, mountains, National Parks | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Day hike to the summit of Mount Si

Eight miles round trip and about 3100 feet of vertical, 40 minutes from my front door! Another gorgeous weekend in the Pacific Northwest- let’s go hiking!image

In the legends of the Snoqualmie people, Mount Si was the body of the moon, fallen to earth through the trickery of the fox and the blue jay. If you’ve ever seen Mount Si it’s easy to understand why it is considered a sacred place.

And we’ re off!image

imageThe farther you go the steeper it gets. It’s a well maintained trail that takes you through thick forest.

Lots of folks on the trail today! Most stop here, below the true summit, called the Haystack. My camera is too crappy to capture Mount Rainier off in the distance-image

I didn’t come this far to skip the true summit of Mount Si! To get there I must conquer the “Haystack scramble”… Sounds like a tasty dish! 😉image

Looking up at the Haystack, the true summit of Mount Si. There are people up there, but they are but specks in this picture.image

Some amazing views from up here! North Bend below and Seattle way off in the distance!image

Had to consult the map because the Haystack Scramble isn’t really a trail…image

Now I understand why they call it a scramble!! There’s no trail, you just claw your way up to the summit, try not to fall, and hope no one drops a rock on you…image

About half way up I paused to take a picture looking down the scramble. Lots of loose rock, definitely a no-fall zone. Pretty sketchy!image

The final piece of the scramble to reach the top of the Haystack and the true summit of Mt Si!image

Made it!!image




Back in North Bend I had to stop for a parting shot of this amazing mountain. See you around Mount Si!image

Want to check out this trail? Here’s how to find the trailhead:

Driving Directions

From Seattle, drive I-90 to exit 32. Turn left onto 436th Ave SE. Follow 436th to its end at SE North Bend Way. Turn left. In three-tenths of a mile, turn right onto SE Mt. Si Road. Follow it 2.4 miles. Entrance to the trailhead will be on the left. A Discover Pass is required at trailhead (and don’t assume no one will check – the lot is patrolled regularly).


Categories: camping, Environment, Hiking, Inspiration, mountaineering, mountains, National Parks, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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