Posts Tagged ‘peaks’

Glacier National Park: Clouds and Reflections (, Photos of)

August 28th, 2009 3 comments

The sky in Montana seems normal-sized to me. I don’t get the big sky thing. Maybe it only applies in Billings and Great Falls. OTOH, they have some pretty awesome clouds, which *are* in the sky. Eh.

glacier_reynolds-mtnReynolds Mountain, near the Logan Pass Visitors Center.

glacier_clements-mtn-cloudsClements Mountain, from about the same place as the last photo.

glacier_reynolds-mtn-cloudsReynolds Mountain from a little further down the road.

glacier_contrail-and-cloudsContrail, clouds. Obviously.

glacier_lake-sherburneLake Sherburne, looking toward the Many Glacier area.

glacier_swiftcurrent-lakeAcross Swiftcurrent Lake.

glacier_swiftcurrent-lake_glaciersSame lake, different view (slightly).

  • I didn’t really get Glacier after the first day, but after the third I was sad to leave.
  • The thing that’s great about it is that it feels like there’s so much to explore there — every valley looks different from the last one, for instance — and that gives you a lot of opportunities for something like solitude.
  • The other great thing, or at least the thing that I think makes Glacier unique, is all the glacially-formed “horns” there. A lot of spikes there that look like they belong in the Alps.
  • Plus I caught a fish there, which endears me somewhat.
  • And next time I’d know to probably stay on the east side of the park — it’s more convenient to the good parts.


Swiftcurrent Pass to Bullhead Lake Hike (Day 41)

August 27th, 2009 3 comments

Back at Apgar and using my Vz wifi, found a website that reviewed all the fishing lakes (and hikes) in Glacier and — oh man. I should hire a monkey to randomly type letters for my intros to these things. Whatever. The guide made an off-handed reference about how all the best stuff at Glacier is found at Many Glaciers anyway, including the best fishing lakes (paraphrased). Hadn’t been to that part of the park yet (it’s the northeast corner of the US part of the park) and I still wanted to fulfill one of man’s oldest desires, namely tricking of an almond-sized-brained creature into impaling itself on a sharp piece of metal. So I went there (long drive, much construction).

There’s a hike from Logan Pass to Swiftcurrent Pass that’s supposed to be awesome, but requires two cars. Figured doing this one would let me take care of half that hike.

swiftcurrent_bear-frequentingDo bears frequent the area or does the area frequent bears? And I like it when people wear bear-bells. Sounds like Christmas.

swiftcurrent_trail-peakThe trail with some peak in the distance.

swiftcurrent_redrock-lake-peaksRedrock Lake. I didn’t fish here, due to the high fishing pressure the website warned me about.

swiftcurrent_creek-n-peakThe ol’ creek-‘n-peak.

swiftcurrent_bullhead-lakeBullhead Lake. About 8 miles r/t, btw.

swiftcurrent_me-castingMe, casting. In background: water, falling.

swiftcurrent_caught-troutAnd, 90 minutes later (not on the same cast), success!

swiftcurrent_trout-danglingHe didnt want to hold still for the photo. Caught on a Blue Fox Super Vibrax #3 Spinner at 1:45 PM, about the same time I got hypothermia from standing barefoot in the water for two hours.

swiftcurrent_trout-jumpAnd then I caught this guy trying to swim up a cascade.

I only caught the one fish, but I’m guessing the marginal utility of zero to one fish is about 8x the marginal utility from one to two. And it was a beautiful hike. I’d like to go back and do the one that goes over the pass some day. Some time when someone else is there with a car, I guess. Looks like a heck of a climb.


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.


Best of the West Coast: Other Stuff

August 22nd, 2009 2 comments

Since no one demanded it, I’m providing it.

Best West Coast Campgrounds

  1. Island Campground, Rogue-Umpqua (Day 16) – Riverside campsite, no mosquitoes, decent privacy, the sound of rushing water putting you to sleep…
  2. La Wiss Wiss Campground, Mt. Rainier (Days 24-25) – Riverside campsite (fine, you had to go down a trail), few mosquitoes, decent privacy, and the sound of rushing water to… A little less private than Island, quite a bit bigger, which is why it’s #2 instead of #1, despite the benefit of providing potable water.
  3. Dalles Campground, Mt. Rainier (Day 23) – Mt. Rainier has good campgrounds. For that matter, so far, everywhere that isn’t California has good campgrounds.

Worst campgrounds: Odessa in Oregon (although I shouldn’t complain about a campground that costs $0, it was pretty divey and there was no concierge service); Plaskett Creek at Big Sur (*no* privacy, no apparent understanding of boundaries by the people staying there, relatively loud, pretty crowded, $25/night).

Best West Coast Geographic Features

  1. Waterfalls.
  2. Peaks.
  3. Rivers.

Best West Coast Restaurant Food (I haven’t been trying to eat in great restaurants or anything, just — you know)

  1. Mi Chalateca, Federal Way (Day 30)
  2. That Peruvian place in San Francisco, San Francisco (Day 5)
  3. Round Table Pizza, South Lake Tahoe (Day 11) – All you can eat for $5.99!

Best West Coast Mountain

  1. Mt. Rainier
  2. Mt. Shuksan
  3. Mt. Thielsen

Best West Coast Waterfall

  1. Tunnel Falls, Columbia Gorge (Day 19) – They should blast tunnels behind *every* waterfall. Plus it was very pretty.
  2. Nevada Fallsf, Yosemite (Day 10) – Probably the most angry waterfall I’ve seen in my life.
  3. Fall Creek Falls, Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway (Day 17) – Like I sort of said yesterday, it reminded me of a secret waterfall you’d find on Kauai, only it was in Oregon.

Meh. Good enough.


And on the Seventh Day the Heavens Cleared, And There Were Mountains (Day 36)

August 19th, 2009 No comments

I understand that good weather isn’t Washington’s natural state, but this place is so much prettier when the sun’s out it’s ridiculous. And as someone who has waited two weeks just to get a transmission fixed, trust me, I *know* ridiculous.

The last day of the family reunion we finally got some decent weather, so we headed up to Mt. Baker, which was sort of supposed to be, like, the ever-present beacon of hope during our stay in that area. Instead it was a sort of hiss and byword that, some said, lay nearby and cloaked in clouds so that only the pure in heart could see it. I dunno. Maybe my heart just didn’t purify until Sunday. It was probably the breakfast burritos that finally did it.

nooksack falls (1)Nooksack Falls, falling.

mt bakerMt. Baker, named by Oregon Territory politicians in order to curry favor with the then-powerful International Brotherhood of Pastry Chefs.

mt shuksanAnd then if you turn around you see Mt. Shuksan, which, if one didn’t drive all the way to the top of the road, one might be inclined to think was Mt. Baker.

mt baker isolationThen if you turn *back* around, you see Mt. Baker again, only this time it’s RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!!! Beware Mt. Baker.

path to table mountainThe flat thing at back-left is Table Mountain. This path does not actually go there.

I feel bad that my oldest brother and his family left Saturday night and thus never got to see the pure-in-heart version of the area and instead went away believing that the North Cascades are this place you go to where you sit around houses and play Butt Man all day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that it’s not entirely accurate.


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.


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?).


The Rogue-Umpqua Byway Is Like New Zealand, But Not So Far Away (Day 16, Part 2)

July 28th, 2009 1 comment

It was kind of like going to a movie you haven’t heard anything about and then really, really liking the movie. I don’t have any photos that really do it justice, but the drive along the Upper Rogue and then the Umpqua Rivers heading out of Crater Lake was pretty fantastic. About every five miles or so there’s something spectacular — waterfall or mountain peak mostly.

rogue river gorgeThe Rogue River Gorge — the colors are reminiscent of NZ. To me. No kauri trees, though.

mt thielsen oregonMt. Thielsen and Hwy. 230. I’d never heard of the mountain, but — man, that’s an evil-looking mountain. IMHO.

lemolo lake and thielsenLemolo Lake and Mt. Thielsen in the distance. The sign posted at the lake said that the fine for swimming in the (public) lake was $10,000. Mussolini would feel *so* vindicated.

watson falls umpqua oregonWatson Falls — I think it’s the second-highest waterfall in Oregon.

hwy 138 and umpqua riverWhat Hwy. 138 looks like.

island campground umpqua riverMy private beach for the night at the Island Campground (only $8!).

Anyway: I thought it was pretty cool, favorite drive of the trip so far. I need to take up fly-fishing just so I have a reason to come back here. Would probably be a good place for rafting or whitewater kayaking, too, and I’m guessing the North Umpqua Trail would be worth hiking, too.



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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