Posts Tagged ‘national parks’

Whitefish, Kayak Fishing, Food, Fire!, Etc. (Day 40)

August 27th, 2009 1 comment

Some book or something I read suggested that I should go to the Great Northern Railway Depot in Whitefish. I did, but the only interesting thing was the Great Northern Railway logo. Maybe not “interesting”, I just thought it looked cool:

whitefish depotI like the goat, I guess.

Otherwise, Whitefish looked like most other ski towns. It would probably be a cool place to go skiing. Since there was no snow, I went to lunch instead at McKenzie River Pizza. The food looked a little like this:

IMG00038-20090825-1314Or a lot like this, actually.

They were having the lunch special on “The Rancher”, so that’s what I got: “seasoned” beef (does that mean it’s “experienced”?), bacon, pepperoni, onions, tomatoes, and green peppers. I had them leave off the peppers, though. It was, as the Canadians say, quite good.

Oh, but before all this Whitefish **** went down, I left the National Park to go take a shower at the KOA kampground nearby. You pay them $5 at the office, then they point you to the back of the kampground and tell you to have at it. I’m guessing it’d be easy to sneak in without paying. OTOH, I’m guessing if they see you trying it, they wait until you start undressing before they come to harass you. And no, there are no pictures. I also bought firewood at the KOA because it’s a few bucks cheaper than it is inside the park.

After lunch, I drove back to the national park. On the way, I took this picture of which is so typical of pictures that I take it makes me vomit with rage:

flathead riverI like rivers and green-brown gradations. Sue me.

The river was (is!) Flathead River. There’s nothing of particular interest that caused me to add the link, it’s just an homage to the origins of web-logging.

Then I came to the metropolis of Hungry Horse. They have a motel there:

hungry-horse-motelI think it’s for sale.

Got back into the park, then pulled off toward Apgar Village (had a site at the Apgar Campground), then went to the picnic area so I could go kayaking:

lake mcdonald kayakInflated and ready to go!

I went fishing while in the kayak. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be and ended when my line broke off at the weight and I realized there was no way I was going to be able to re-configure the line without flipping the boat. OTOH, I got some good paddling practice in for when I’m in Minnesota. The portaging practice was less enthralling.

Then I went back to my campsite and ate the rest of the pizza and waited for it to be dark enough to build a fire that I could then read by:

IMG00041-20090825-1939And if the Kindle displeases me, disposal is only a couple feet away!

The Kindle doesn’t displease me. And I was reading Gordon Wood’s The American Revolution: A History, which is about as concise a book on the revolution and origins of American government as you’ll ever find. Very enlightening and very applicable to present-day politics. Highly recommended if you haven’t taken a US History class in a couple decades.

Some other notes:

  • There are a lot of trains that pass by the Apgar Campground.
  • It gets cold at night in Montana.
  • I think these two things conspire to keep me from sleeping here.
  • I think I sleep better where there’s moderate humidity.
  • Although I also think I should maybe get another pad to put between my cot and my sleeping bag.
  • I’m also considering actually using my tent some time.
  • Maybe tomorrow night.


Siyeh Pass Hike Photo Report (Day 39)

August 26th, 2009 6 comments




siyeh-pass_baring-creek-valley (1)



siyeh-pass_baring-glacier-ridge (1)







siyeh-pass_matahpi-shoulder (1)






siyeh-pass_squirrelSquirrel, but no moose.




Some notes, I guess:

  • 10.3 miles for the pass hike, but then I added 2-3 miles to go see the last waterfall (and butterfly).
  • 3,400-foot elevation gain (I hiked from Sunrift Gorge to Siyeh Cutoff — if I’d done it the other way around, it would’ve only been 2,200 feet, but then the sun would’ve been in the wrong place).
  • They have interesting clouds here.
  • Gale-force winds at the pass (almost — I’m guessing ca. 30 mph); second hike of the trip so far that made me get my gloves out of the backpack (Lassen Peak was the first).
  • Despite singing the “Grizzly Bear Oh Won’t You Come Stand Maybe Fifty Yards from Me (But Then Don’t Come Any Closer)” song for most of the hike, did not see any grizzly bears.
  • Or black bears.


Sol Duc Falls and I, Breaker of Droughts (Day 30)

August 11th, 2009 4 comments

Never been to the Sol Duc part of Olympic National Park before. Now I have. Was pretty, the waterfall was unusual, and the weather was rainy.  I kind of prefer the spelling of droughth with the h at the end. Should’ve used it in the title.

We camped out by the rain forest. Started raining during the night some time — which you sort of expect in a rain forest, I guess. Drove out of there and tried — nearly failed — to get breakfast in Forks. We were, though, able to verify that the town’s economy is still mostly Twilight-based. If only the author had visited before writing the books. So lame.

The hike up to Sol Duc falls was only 0.9 miles from the trailhead, well within tourist range, even with the rain. But on the plus side, it was the first time all trip I got to break out my rain gear, which is really good at keeping rain out. Which you’d think would be true of all rain gear, but alas.

hwy 101 in the rainHighway 101 at 12:11:16 on August 10th.

sol duc fallsSol Duc Falls, with impressive triple-cascade action!

sol duc falls bridgeYou know it’s a tourist when he’s carrying a golf umbrella onto the trail.

crescent lake cloudsAnd then the loch ness monster came and ate our car.

I guess they’d had a long droughth up here. And it’s not that hard for me to look back at my 106-degree Yosemite photos and think about the two averaging out.


Hoh Rain Forest and Five Mile Island (Day 29)

August 11th, 2009 4 comments

With the truck still laid up, my dad was kind enough to let my brother and me borrow his Jeep and head out to Olympic National Park, which we now know was almost named Elk National Park. We didn’t see any elk or Greek gods while we were there, though. Maybe they should have gone with Option C.

I wanted to do this hike along the Hoh River in the Hoh Rain Forest, supposedly the greatest example of a temperate rain forest on earth. There were no toucans in the rain forest or three-toed sloths. Just a lot of trees and moss. Some rain. Went on it with my brother and three nephews with the goal being Five Mile Island (10 miles round-trip if you can believe it).

The rain forest is probably cooler than these pictures make it look, although I had fun trying to re-correct the colors in the photos to match my perception of reality.

rain forest realityAnd then the fairies came and performed a merry jig.

hoh rain forest mossStill not sure whether the trees like having the mosses and ferns growing on them.

hoh rain forest moss 2This one, for instance, seems a little irritated. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

hoh rain forest sam rickSam and Rick negotiate a deceptively difficult portion of trail.

rain forest cut logWhat the trail looks like. Sort of. Depending on your monitor.

mineral creek fallsMineral Creek Falls

hoh river trail stream crossingA treacherous stream crossing.

hoh river bridgeWe found troll scats under this bridge.

hoh rain forest treeAnd then we saw a tree!

five mile islandThe Hoh River at Five Mile Island. Sadly, we witnessed no nuclear melt downs — heck, we couldn’t even find the containment facility (although that might have just been more evidence of failsafes working as designed).

five mile island and meProof I was there.

Only one of my nephews (Ammon) and zero of my brothers made it to the island, and not without getting eaten alive by deerflies first, which only added to the richness of the experience — for both of us, really. Plus I got to use my first-aid kit for something. Finally.


Driving Mt. Rainier

August 7th, 2009 1 comment

Wanted to post some more photos from the drive around Mt. Rainier. I think it’s the kind of place that should seem otherworldly if you’re not from here. Maybe someone can let me know.

hwy 164 mt- rainierFor instance, I’m pretty sure this view never happens in California. This is heading toward the mountain, driving between Auburn and Enumclaw.

mt- rainier national park roadThis is the road heading west toward the Paradise Lodge inside the park. Tree tunnels don’t happen much in Orange Countay (sic).

box canyon mt- rainierBox Canyon, a canyon with water in it.

rainier and reflection lakeView of Mt. Rainier from the side of the road, across Reflection Lake. With wildflowers.

bee and flower rainierHow bees do business.

narada falls rainierNarada Falls — I enjoy the photo for its complete lack of perspective.

nisqually river gulchNisqually River tributary wannabes.

bridge and lineMy attempt at a Chadley photo.

It’s a pretty cool drive. At some point I’ll make a list of my favorite stretches of road on the trip and this one’s got a good shot of being on there. Fierce competition.


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?).


Crater Lake Is a Big Crater with a Lake in It (Day 16)

July 28th, 2009 10 comments

I didn’t catch the vision. Or, well, the vision I caught was this: they created an entire National Park to celebrate the color blue. To that end:

crater lake blue

I don’t mean to imply that it’s not an exceptional shade of blue.

I dunno. Maybe I’m just getting jaded from seeing too many national parks one on top of each other or something. Just that there’s not much to do at Crater Lake other than look at the lake. There are hikes to various spikes around the crater, but the only point to hiking them is to get another view of the lake. So, to that end, here are more views of the lake. It’s very blue.

crater lake east rim viewYep, still blue. A little darker when it’s in the shade.

crater lake blue alsoIt’s sort of like being at MoMA. In this all-blue canvas, I see the struggles of the working class to overcome the forces of nature (and so forth).

crater lake east sideEven from the East Rim, still blue.

Crater Lake llao rock

Llao Rock, which is not blue. Neither is my truck.

watchman at crater lakeThe Watchman — not blue, but certainly a little glum.

crater lake from rim villageBut still — mostly about the blue.

I didn’t end up spending much time at Crater Lake. Just not that much to do there, like I said. They have a $27, two-hour boat ride you can go on, but the guy selling tickets explained that it’s mostly interesting for geologists or vulcanologists. He seemed disappointed when I did not self-identify as either.


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…



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