Posts Tagged ‘hikes’

Mt. St. Helens Is in Those Clouds There Somewhere (Day 26)

August 8th, 2009 2 comments

I’m almost over taking recommendations from Backpacker magazine. Sure, they recommended the Glen Alpine Trail that was outstanding and all that, but they also suggested that Crystal Peak is the one and only hike at Rainier that’s “Top 100”-caliber.

That said, they can’t account for weather. I’m going to go back and do the Harry’s Ridge trail some time in the future. Some time when you can see the mountain and it’s not going to start raining on the trail’s six-inch ledges at any second. Some time.

As it was, I only did half the hike. It’s supposed to be an 8-miler, but I cut it off at the promontory so I could crawl back over the ledge before it got wet. As far as photos go, this is what I got:

riffe lake logjamRiffe Lake, along one of the mythical, plentiful routes to Spirit Lake Highway that my GPS (erroneously) thinks exists.

toutle river mudflowA mountain flowed through it: the Toutle River, pathway of mudflows. Not that anyone cares about some eruption that happened 29 years ago, though. Apparently.

boundary trail st- helensThe Boundary Trail: wildflowers, ash-filled desolation, low clouds.

boundary trail ledgeI have to figure out what the problem is with these photos. Either Aperture isn’t exporting them with corrections made or else Firefox isn’t down-scaling them well. This is a photo of the ledge-crawl part of the trail, just FYI.

boundary trail mountainI figure I need to show a photo of the mountain, such as it was visible.

And then it turned out that the world’s foremost cobbler restaurant was out of business.

I like St. Helens, I really need to go back on a better weather day. People seem like they’ve forgotten about this place. Many of the businesses that grew up after the 1980 eruption were shuttered and/or for sale and, you know, I kind of like seeing dilapidated buildings and other such ruins. Wasn’t much traffic on the way out there and only a few people were bothering to hike the one trail. Except for the weather — and who knew it could be cloudy in Washington?! — probably pretty nice.


Mt. Rainier Crystal Peak Hike and Eight Miles of Switchbacks (Day 24)

August 7th, 2009 No comments

Mt. Rainier is fantastic and wonderful. So are views of it. Hiking steep switchbacks through a prison of douglas firs is less fantastic. It’s hard to tell how it balances out. Ah well.

The hike has fantastic views of Mt. Rainier and, eventually, views of Mt. Adams, Crystal Lake, and what might be Glacier Peak. It’s hard work staying motivated up the dumb switchbacks, though. And then once you get above the treeline and can see stuff, it’s really just the same view of the same stuff the whole way. It’s a nice view, just: you know.

crystal peak trailheadSneaking up behind a sitting dog, putting a rope around its neck, and pulling is NOT allowed on this trail. Which pretty much killed the day for me right there.

crystal peak rockslideA rockslide! Well, better tank up.

burned treesThink forest fires are good for the forest? Tell it to *these* trees. Obama should do something about this — we need forest fires where no trees are actually burned.

trees near mt- rainierA wall of trees.

mt- rainier and white river (1)

Mt. Rainier with the European-American River in foreground.

crystal peak wildflowersWildflowers along the trail.

crystal peak final assaultThe final assault.

crystal peak view from topFrom the top, looking down.

crystal peak mt- adams viewView of Mt. Adams from the peak.

mt- rainier crystal peak trailA final look at Mt. Rainier — I like the parallell between the river and the trail, although it would’ve looked better with better light on the grass. Oh. Well.

Right, so: I dunno. The views were great — probably better than anything above illustrates. It’s also never a bad thing to stand on top of a mountain peak (at least, not in my book). Plus, since the trailhead isn’t that close to the “usual” park parts, the only people on the trail are those who mean to be there, and there aren’t very many of those types of people.

So it has those things going for it. I think there are some better hikes at Rainier, though — the Burroughs Mountain Trail, for instance, is 7-8 miles long (IIRC) and offers a lot more in the way of changes of scenery. Of course, since it starts from the Sunrise Lodge, it’s a lot more crowded. But anyway. This isn’t the last time I’ll ever be at Rainier (probably), so I’m guessing at the end of the day it will have been worth it to have checked this trail out at some point (was that the question?).


Eagle Creek Trail: The Oregon Waterfall Encounter! (Day 19)

August 1st, 2009 6 comments

Most importantly: this was a 12-mile hike (6 in, 6 out). The bottom four miles or so seemed like being on a conveyor belt and observing a nice river and several waterfalls through glass. Like at Sea World with the penguins. It was strange. Felt disconnected from stuff — like I could see the river and/or waterfall out there, but I wasn’t near enough to like touch it or anything. Plus the trail was pretty flat.

This trail was interesting in that it was mostly dynamited out of the side of the hill. You’re walking on a ledge for the most part. They had some cables up to hold on to, but it’s a pretty wide ledge.

The last couple miles on the way up (and the first couple on the way down) are pretty exciting, though. I hiked the trail up to Twister Falls, which comes right after Tunnel Falls. Tunnel Falls is the coolest waterfall I’ve seen in Oregon. Yes, including Multnomah. It’s just cool. The majority of the hike might have been merely pleasant, but the payoff was huge. IMHO. Always IMHO.

eagle creek trail ledgeSee, they just, like, blasted the trail out of the side of the hill.

upper punchbowl fallsUpper Punchbowl Falls: look, but don’t touch! Actually, I think it’s possible to get into that pool, there, but it requires some effort (the path at the lower-right of the photo does not go down to the pool) and wouldn’t it have made sense to blast the trail such that it, like, goes right by the waterfall? No?

unnamed waterfallAnother little waterfall keeping its distance.

tunnel falls tunnelThe tunnel (and trail) that goes behind Tunnel Falls.

tunnel falls tunnel exitExit tunnel right.

tunnel falls from behindThe view from behind the waterfall.

tunnel falls bottom halfBottom half of Tunnel Falls, with the trail cutting through it.

tunnel falls top halfThe top half of tunnel falls. Actually, both “half” photos are more like three-quarters. Key point: I couldn’t get the whole waterfall in frame.

twister falls

Twister Falls, just above Tunnel Falls.

tunnel falls landscape orientationYes, Tunnel Falls. Again. But!: landscape orientation. Well worth it.

Oh well. If you ever want to see more photos of waterfalls — especially this one particular waterfall — I have them available. (I mean, I *do* have them available, but — you know.)


Categories: west coast Tags: , , ,

Fall Creek Falls (Day 17, Part 0)

July 29th, 2009 No comments

Should’ve posted this yesterday maybe since it’s another site on the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway but I forgot I had these photos on the other camera so I didn’t oh well.

Fall Creek Falls was a 2-mile hike round-trip to a small waterfall. Very unassuming. Reminded me of a hike you’d find in Hawaii, though, and the waterfall falls into a small pool that you could swim in, or in which you could, like, bathe in the waterfall. Although I didn’t because it was early in the morning and that would’ve been cold.

fall creek falls trailA photo of the trail leading up to the falls. This way, when you get to the photo of the falls, you can feel like you’ve earned it.

fall creek falls lowerThis is where you’d take the waterfall shower.

fall creek falls upperTurns out there’s an upper part to the falls, too. Sorry for the grainy-ness, but there wasn’t much light (ISO = 400).

And then I got to the coast and you know what happens from there. Partly.


I, Mountain Climber: Lassen Peak (Day 15)

July 28th, 2009 3 comments

Fully acclimated to the extreme elevation (8,500′ at the trailhead), I went ahead and hit the peak trail. The Lassen Peak hike is notable for being one of the easiest-to-access 10K+ foot peaks that exists anywhere. It’s a 2.5-mile (each way) trail — but it gains 2,000 feet in elevation, so it’s a little steep.

brokeoff mountain and friendsThe Three Stooges — or something like that. The one on the left is Brokeoff Mountain again and this view is the hike’s constant companion as the trail switchbacks all across the south slope of Lassen.

lassen peak trail lake helen

Lake Helen, the hike’s other constant companion. The lake is right next to the three peaks above, just that you (I) can’t get them into the same photo frame.

lassen peak topLooking ahead to the final assault!

shasta from lassen peakMt. Shasta from the final Lassen Peak snowfield.

lassen peak me at topMade it! My head is higher than the highest point on the mountain, which I’m calling good enough. Even if I weren’t acrophobic, I’m still not stupid (based on recent GMAT scores).

Other random notes:

  • I think I’m getting better at hiking uphill. Which I suppose makes sense.
  • There was a surprisingly large bee population at the peak.
  • This is the highest peak I’ve ever climbed, easy hike or no.
  • And it’s only easy in terms of length…



Bumpass Hell Trail, Lassen (Day 14)

July 26th, 2009 3 comments

Was originally planning on hiking up Lassen Peak, but I got to the parking lot, couldn’t breathe, realized I was at 8,500 feet, and decided to give myself another day to acclimate. So I went and did something easier, instead: hiked the Bumpass Hell Trail to Bumpass Hell (the name kept me thinking about the movie A Christmas Story — I think the Bumpasses were the neighbors with the dogs) and then continued on to Crumbaugh Lake (8 mi. r/t).

bumpass hell from aboveEr, so in case it wasn’t obvious from the name (?), Bumpass Hell is this sort of geothermal fumerole place, apparently named after its discoverer who fell in twice and ended up losing a leg. So it’s more of a personal hell than a universal one.

bumpass hell fumarolesAnd, yes, it smelled like rotten eggs.

bumpass one-armed gunfighterAnd then I was confronted with the shadow of a one-armed gunfighter.

crumbaugh lake lassenCrumbaugh Lake — looks idyllic when you aren’t there to hear the bugs in your ears (no, that’s not a Kafka reference).

brokeoff mountain lassenBrokeoff Mountain (actual name), where Northern California’s gay cowboys would be going to get married if Prop 8 hadn’t passed.

lassen peak from bumpass trailView of Lassen Peak from the Bumpass Hell Trial Trail (just a typo, not a Kafkaesque slip).

Bumpass Hell was pretty cool-looking, well worth the first half of the hike. Going on to the lakes was fine, but I would’ve been okay without it. Maybe just because I’d seen more picturesque lakes very recently.

And now I should probably leave before the Taco Bell employees in Klamath Falls get nervous about me being here for an hour and a half.


Half Dome Hike Details That the Photos Don’t Convey

July 24th, 2009 2 comments

Communicative, sure, but photos are inexact and not necessarily comprehensive. A few notes:

  • Woke up at 2:45, on the road at 2:55, parking at the trailhead parking lot at 4:30.
  • This is where it would’ve been nice to have been camping somewhere closer to the actual valley.
  • Everyone talks about the cables. More people should talk about how long this hike is. By my route, it was around 17 miles, and a lot of those are steep miles.
  • Almost 5,000 feet in elevation gain (!).
  • The hike up wasn’t crowded per se, but you were never alone on the trail for long.
  • The lower half of the return journey *did* get crowded per se, with all the shuttle bus partisans making their Big Hike up to Vernal Falls and back.
  • Horses should not be allowed on hiking trails. Or, if they are, then hikers should be allowed to shoot them on sight just so there’s an opportunity for retribution.
  • The hike is more about pride and accomplishment than it is about fun. It’s too long, too steep, too uphill, too early, and too hot to be all that much fun. (It’s pretty, though.)
  • My car and food were situated (bear boxes!) and I was hiking to the trailhead by 4:45. The people coming up the trail who were probably 60-90 minutes behind me were clearly miserable from the heat.
  • Hiking in the dark (about the first half-hour of my hike) isn’t as fun as it’s made out to be.
  • I didn’t bring a hat on the hike — I had three in the truck. I blame waking up at 2:45.
  • If I were ever to have to do this hike again, I’d start at Glacier Point — makes it a couple miles shorter, deprives it of 1,000 feet of elevation gain, and adds a waterfall to the trip, without taking away any of the scenic parts of the Happy Isles starting point. Only downside is that it then becomes a shuttle hike and I’m not sure the park operates a bus to Glacier Point from the valley.


Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Glen Alpine Trail to Aloha Lake (Day 12)

July 24th, 2009 5 comments

My big activity in Lake Tahoe — other than laundry — was taking this hike up into the Desolation Wilderness. It was on Backpacker magazine’s Top 100 Day Hikes list from a few months back. Good call on their part! The route I took ended up being about 14 miles (it included a side-trip to Grass Lake and went all the way to the far end of Aloha Lake), but it was a fun 14 miles and this is probably a Top 5 hike for me at this point (we’ll see what the rest of this trip brings).

glen alpine grass lakePlus, if you start the hike early enough, you can get to at least one lake before the wind kicks up and ruins the reflections. This was Grass Lake, first stop on the tour. If you look hard enough, there’s a waterfall back on the mountain.

glen alpine wildflowersRight, so: wildflowers.

glen alpine lake susieLake Susie, a lake.

heather lake desolation wildernessHeather Lake.

glen alpine lake aloha (1)And the big one, Lake Aloha. Pretty alien-looking place, mostly above the tree-line. The Pacific Crest Trail runs alongside the lake.

lake aloha rocksHeadin’ in! (But not before going back and putting my camera away, and then choosing a put-in point that doesn’t involve me bashing my head on one of these rocks.)

heather lake sunglasses reflectionAnd my new goal for the trip is to take a reflection-in-sunglasses photo that, like, works.


  • Sound of running water the entire length of the hike.
  • Only a few co-hikers — only saw one until I got to Susie Lake. Made me feel like I owned the place, which, well, I like to feel when hiking.
  • The hike hits four lakes (including Grass), and each of them are pretty different.
  • A lot of wildflowers.
  • Lakes have good entry opportunities for swimming.
  • Starting to think that beginning hikes at daybreak is a good idea.


  • BUGS! Until about 10 AM, the bugs were crazy. Almost aborted because of bugs and hiking in a Deet cloud isn’t as fun as it sounds.
  • Didn’t bring any sun screen (not technically the hike’s fault).
  • Didn’t bring my fishing pole (ibid). Although I think I’ve learned the conditions for hikes on which I should bring the pole, so: next time.


Categories: west coast Tags: , , ,

Half Dome, Full Hike Photo Report (Day 10)

July 23rd, 2009 1 comment


half dome hike in the dark

muir trail merced river crossing

half dome view from trail

nevada falls and liberty cap

vernal falls in morning light

silver apron between falls

nevada falls from river

half dome at distance

half dome granite trail

little yosemite valley

half dome cable section

looking up at the cables

cable section final deliberations

top of hike

half dome trail back down

chipmunk eating grass

other emerald pool

nevada falls in bright sun

silver apron tourist playground

mist trail below vernal falls

Live at the Fresno Dome! One Night Only! (Day 7)

July 22nd, 2009 1 comment

It turned out that my campsite was pretty close to Fresno Dome, which, turns out, isn’t a sports/concert venue in the Central Valley, but, rather, is this:

fresno_dome_forest_service_roadLike I said, Fresno Dome, which is impressive especially to those unfamiliar with granite domes.

Turns out you can hike to it and the trailhead was only three miles up the road from my campsite (3 miles on that road = 20 minutes driving time, unless you were that guy in the white Excursion who started fishtailing trying to slow down enough to get into his own lane and not hit me on his way down, in which case I’m guessing 15 minutes). People at the trailhead said it was only a half-mile to the top. They were off by a half-mile, but still: short hike. Thus:

fresno_dome_trail_sierraThe trail heading up to the dome.

fresno_dome_me_at_topThe view from the top of the dome — which, unfortunately, does not include me for all visitors.

And I didn’t hike it at night. It was in the evening (note the shadows to self-verify).

Only three days behind on posting now!


PS, I stayed the night before and the morning of Day 7 in Stockton and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how cool it was (aside from being 126 degrees in the shade). Friendliest Dennys wait staff I’ve ever encountered. Plus, when I went to Target, I got apologized to twice for minor, unavoidable personal space violations. Twice! It was like not even being in California.

Categories: west coast Tags: , , ,
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