Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

Rhododendron Trail/Cal Barrel – Redwood NP

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

date hiked: June 22, 2008
distance: 5.1 miles
elevation gain: 730 feet
time: 3 hours

Tyler and I did this hike together. We had so much fun. It was our first foray into the Redwoods. It was amazing to see how massive the trees were. How they could grow when they were hollow.


The trail would go right through the trees…literally. It was amazing.

But even more amazing was this:

I don’t believe there is any guarantee that you are going to like your kids. I mean, I know you love them. Of course you do. But if you are honest, I do not think there is any thing that guarantees that you are going to LIKE them. That you will enjoy who they are. We hope for that. Maybe parenting has something to do with it. I’m not sure.

What I do know is that I like my son. I enjoy spending time with him. I like who he is. I like taking up the same space…even though we share different interests.


We talked about that a lot on this hike. While walking through these massive trees, feeling so small in comparison, Tyler and I felt so solid. He’s grown so much. It all seemed fitting…the conversation, the setting, our hearts.

Fern Canyon – Redwood National Park

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

date hiked: June 21, 2008
distance: 2.2 miles
elevation gain: 317 feet
time: 1 hour


After setting up camp in Elk Prairie Campground we set out for the coast to Gold Bluffs Beach and the Fern Canyon Loop trail. The trail’s name describes it perfectly…a wide walk through a fern covered canyon. It seems other wordly at times. It is often hard for me to imagine how such beauty finds its way in the world. It feels to big, too overwhelming. It was a perfect introduction to the area.

There was a herd of elk hanging out on the beach. On the way out of the canyon, one of the elk had blocked the trail. He was within 30 feet of the trail and you had to go by him to get out. We were on a ridge so you couldn’t move around him. According to the park, the elk in this herd have been known to chase people so I was willing to wait until he moved out. However, Tyler was a brazen, brave soul and quietly walked by on the trail. So…I followed.


After our near elk charge…we went and played in the ocean for a bit. Tyler splashed me more than I managed to splash him. We headed back to camp and went to sleep.

Exposure and Adventure

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Tyler and I are up early this morning. We are on our way adventuring again…back from Redwood National Park (which I shall post about soon) and onto John Day Fossil Beds National Monument for a few days of camping and hiking. I asked Tyler to pick a picture to go with this post from our Redwood NP trip and he picked one that he took of me.


When I asked why this picture? Tyler said that people should see all the hard work I’ve been doing. I was going to make him pick a different picture because this one feels to “out there” if you know what I mean.

Here’s where things feel exposed and quite vulnerable….Tyler is referring to the fact that I have lost about 130 pounds. It has taken years and lots of sweat (and I have about 4 pounds to go before I reach my goal) but I’m almost there. (Then I get another tattoo.) 🙂

Tyler is an awesome young man…always encouraging and celebrating my accomplishments.

Now…off to John Day NM


Saturday, June 21st, 2008

So here’s a list of things I’m presently celebrating:

1. School’s out for summer

2. I received my Master’s on May 3rd.

3. I completed the requirements for my recertification.

4. Tyler finished his first year of high school.

5. I’m finally caught up posting hikes on the blog.

6. In 6 hours, Tyler and I are going camping/hiking in Redwood NP for a week.

7. Alice Smith’s CD: For Lovers, Dreamers & Me

Comet Falls Trail – Mt. Rainier NP

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

date hiked: August 15, 2007
distance: 3.8 miles
highest elevation: approx. 6000
elevation gain: 2160 ft
time: 1.5 hours

Comet Falls Trail

This was a killer hike for me. Two thousand feet up in one and a half mile. It was steep. At least for me. Because I’m a crappy hiker. Yet, I still love it. This was also a weird hike for me internally. I chose the hike to see Comet Falls, one of the tallest in the park. Along the hike you are supposed to be able to glimpse the falls several times. At each switchback, I could hear the thundering water become louder but could never see anything. Not one drop of water, anywhere. The overgrowth of greenery and brush had blocked everything. It became somewhat odd. Hearing all indications of a massive, plunging, waterfall but not even seeing the riverbed that it feeds into. I was enclosed in a forest. I never saw water or Mt. Rainier. Then, all of a sudden, the forest opened up and Mt. Rainier was standing there. The water fall came soon after. I loved that moment.

High Lakes Trail Loop – Mt Rainier NP

Sunday, January 6th, 2008

date hiked: August 14, 2007
distance: 2.7 miles
highest elevation: approx. 4867 ft
elevation gain: unknown
time: unknown

This easy hike explores the area around Reflection Lakes, which some consider the most photograghed spot on Mt. Rainier.

Tatoosh Range

There are amazing views of Mt. Rainier along the trail, some reflecting in the waters of the lakes. But I loved hiking along Mazama Ridge and looking back to this view of the Tatoosh Range. I think it made it seem like I had come so much farther than I really had.

Tyler across bridge 

It was nice to have Tyler come along this hike. Everything was so green and bright. There were also plenty of bugs!

Narada Falls to Longmire – Mt. Rainier NP

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

date hiked: August 14, 2007
distance: 4.5 miles
highest elevation: unknown
elevation loss: 2044 feet
time: 1 hour 39 minutes

Narada Falls

In November 2006, two days of steady rain in the northwest caused flooding that closed Mt. Rainier National Park for six months. Campgrounds, trails, and roads were washed away. The damage was most evident on this hike from Narada Falls to Longmire Historic District.

Narada Falls is a beautiful cascading falls just off the road in the park. It is a very popular attraction, as it is so easily accessible. Below the falls, a trail connects to the Wonderland Trail (the 93 mile trail that circles Rainier). This section of Wonderland travels downhill along the Paradise River. There are two other waterfalls along the trail, Madcap Falls and Carter Falls.

About 3 miles into the hike you enter the Nisqually River Valley. A bridge takes you across the Nisqually River. After crossing the river, you enter a forest. It was here along the Nisqually where the trail disappeared. Flood damage signs were posted and trail workers were rerouting the trail. I climbed trees, followed flags, and made my way to Longmire.

Longmire Historic District is the site where James Longmire built a Medical Springs in 1888. The Park Headquarters was established there in 1899. Currently, there is a museum, hotel, ranger station, and exhibits there.

After finishing the hike, I returned to the campground and took Tyler to the Nisqually River crossing. The picture says it all.

Nisqually River crossing

Skyline Trail – Alta Vista Summit – Mt. Rainier NP

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

date hiked: August 13, 2007
distance: 5.2 miles
highest elevation: approx. 6400 feet
elevation gain: 1400 feet
time: 2 hours

mt rainier

I’m so far behind on posting. I haven’t stopped hiking though. I’m going to try to catch up…yet again.

After returning from Alaska, I stayed home for about a week then went camping and hiking for four days in Mt. Rainier National Park. Immediately after setting up camp in Cougar Rock campground, Tyler and I headed up to the Skyline Trail. The trail is mostly paved and amazingly populated. You feel so close to the mountain from here. It has that reach-out-and-touch-it feeling. Tyler and I spent a lot of time talking about mountain climbing. Mountaineers access the summit from this trail so we would see them with all of their gear heading out or having already reached the top, heading in.

On the way back in we came across a group of hoary marmots.

Hoary Marmots

Denali National Park, AK

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

date hiked: August 2-3, 2007
distance: 20 miles
highest elevation: unknown
elevation gain: unknown
time: unknown

Denali was our last stop while we were in Alaska. It turned out to be a perfect final destination. I left Denali, and in turn Alaska feeling like I had just met a new person that I hoped would be my friend. It felt like only a brief introduction…and I know I want more.

Denali National Park is the only National Park (that I am aware of) that is only accessible by a gravel road running 45 miles into the park (the first 15 miles is paved). Private vehicles are only allowed to drive the first 15 miles of the park road. If you want to explore deeper into the park, you will (most likely) take one of the infamous green shuttle buses.

Green Denali Bus

You may get on and off the shuttle bus as often as you wish. You don’t have to reboard the same bus, you can just flag another bus down and if there is room they will pick you up. Tyler and I randomly hiked about 20 miles of Denali in this fashion. Get off the bus, hike find another bus, ride to someplace new, hike some more.

Tyler in Denali

Of course, Mt. McKinley is a main reason people travel to Denali. We read that the mountain (which locals call Mt. Denali) is only visible 20% of the time during the summer months. We had also met a couple in our hotel in Anchorage that had seen the mountain the day before we were heading there. We figured the odds were not in our favor. Apparently, Mt. Denali creates it’s own weather so even on a clear day, it could be surrounded by clouds. In fact, that’s exactly what it was like. However, we were lucky enough to see bits and pieces of her. For a brief time, she was almost completely visible. Too bad we were so far away. It was amazing.

Mt. Denali

We saw lots and lots of wildlife. Caribou, red fox, artic squirrels, and moose were some of the wildlife we encountered.


Red Fox

Just after seeing the fox, on the way out of the park, we were on the shuttle bus and we had reached the paved road. In 15 miles, our Denali experience would be over. The bus came to a stop and the driver said, “Everyone quietly look in the road ahead of the bus.” There, strolling down the road, was a mama brown bear and her two cubs.


All I could do was laugh.

The next day we boarded a plane in Anchorage for our flight home to Seattle (we drove from Seattle to Portland.)

Kenai Fjords National Park

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Date Visited: August 1, 2007

We took an 8 hour boat trip to explore Kenai Fjords National Park. Once again, I was the land of the glorious whale. It’s quite pathetic. Most of the time, my social inequity is quietly accepted on the inside. I recognize my ineptitude. I just don’t shout it from the rooftops.

Yet, post after post, my silly whale-obsessing, bear-fearing self is making it clear. Luckily, the one or two friends I have, know I’m not a secret whale-stalker.

So, on this lovely boat ride, we were entertained by orcas. A large pod seemed to hang around the boat forever. They all seemed to be curious. Who knows?


We also came across a group of sea otter. They seemed to be waving.

sea otter

There was also a group of Steller Sea Lions sunning on a rock. The Steller Sea Lion was listed (and still is) as an endangered species in 1990.

Steller Sia Lions

What most would consider the highlight of the ride…are the glaciers.