Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sauk Mountain, Take Two (or The Second Sauk)

After my oohing and ahhhing about how great the Sauk Mountain hike was, Michelle put it on her short list.  She decided to do it a couple weeks after we went with Guyan’s friend Sully and family.  Her neighbor and frequent hiking buddy, Kerry, was also going, but Michelle needed company for the kids (kids hiking with friends are so much more enjoyable than those hiking with only siblings).  She asked if she might be able to borrow my kids for the hike.
And that’s when I jumped in and invited our whole dang family.  Smile
Sauk Mountain is not exactly the right hike for people with vertigo.  Heck, the drive to the trailhead is not for people with vertigo.  When we arrived at the trailhead, Kerry was feeling dizzy and not too well.  She tried to join us on the hike, but after about 100 yards, and a look at the mountain and switchbacks, she decided she would read in the car while the rest of us made the hike.  See?  It’s a good thing I invited us all along.
So the last time we took this hike, we knew it had a LOT of switchbacks—over thirty, according to an elderly gentleman on the trail.  I brought along my trusty knitting row counter (a little clicker thing) so that Alice could keep track for us.  She has it in her hand here—she’s on the job).
This picture of Alice and Michelle is a little bright, and it’s hard to see off in the distance, but you could see Mount Rainier on this day—that’s a long ways away!  About 4 hours by car, down south of Seattle and east of Tacoma.  We could also see the San Juan Islands, Mt. Baker, The Sisters, and Mount Pilchuck.  ‘Cause Mount Pilchuk is very important (inside joke, sorry readers…).
When we got near the top, the boys were, oh, a little grumpy.  They found the shade of these trees overlooking Sauk Lake and parked it for a while.  Nature called, they had a snack, and everything was good.  I need to remember…keep them fed, encourage answering the call of nature, and hiking with them will be so much more enjoyable.
Just right of Sauk Lake, there were several tents of backpackers…might be a good site for hiking in and camping next year or so.
My happy hiker.
On our way for the final ascent.
And once we got there after that last 1/8 of a mile or so?  What did the boys do?  Found shade and ate again.  Typical boys, I guess.
The rest of us got to the highest point we could stomach and enjoyed the views.
This guy, out on the rock over there, the little blip to the right, he really should wear brighter clothing.  If he were to fall off the mountain, no one would ever find his camouflaged body.  Or, worse yet, hunters might mistake him for a bear (it happened to a lady a couple years ago on this trail, very sad).  That’s why I make my children wear bright colors and encourage them to talk about video games and make noise for hours on end.  Even the stupidest hunter knows that bears don’t discuss Wizard 101 for hours on end.
Sean was with us on this hike too—he took all our pictures, which explains why I am in some, and he is in none.  This is a picture that Michelle took.  …or maybe that wasn’t Sean and I was just swept off my feet by a mountain man.  Handsome guy, I tell ya.
We started back down the trail.  Alice counted 36 switchbacks.  Not all are visible in this picture, but quite a few are.
The wildflowers were still going strong—Indian Paintbrush here.
Sauk Mountain with Mt. Baker in the background.
Off in the background there, I *think* that’s The Sisters, but I could be wrong.  Who’s going to correct me if I’m wrong, anyway? Winking smile

Saturday, August 18, 2012

8.3 Miles, BABY!

For the first inaugural Family Camp in 2011, all the kids, all the adults, we all hiked up to Skyline Divide.  After a rocky start (who knew it was twelve miles dirt road to the trailhead and there was no way we’d finish nearly five mile hike by lunch?), it turned out to be a great day.  Sean carried up the watermelon that was rolling around in the back of the Tribute, and we had a nice lunch of trail mix, Goldfish, and watermelon on the ridge.

Oh, the pressure was on to recreate such awesomeness.
This time, we had five families.  Kids ranging from 6 years old to 14.  Hiking experience from very little to weekly multi-mile trips.  Some who LOOOOOVE hiking, some who may have rather stayed at the campsite.  And those of us who LOOOOOVE hiking, well, we had a hike in mind, the Lake Ann hike.  It’s a long day hike, and given that it takes two hours to drive to it from Ferndale, we thought it would be good to try it out, being that we were already camping in the area.  After all, we were saving lots of precious driving time since we were so close and all.
Did I mention it was 8.3 miles, round trip, and this particular day was one of the hottest of the summer?  Didn’t mention it yet?  Well, ask the boys.  They remember.  They can tell you all about it.
Our group this year—Owen, Sean, Guyan, Melinda, Cecile, Henry, Michelle, Alice, Kim, Kerry, Roguie (black dog), and in the front, Freckle (white dog), Roisin, Jenica, and Liam.  Kerry and Matthew and family opted to stay back at camp…Kerry only brought flip flops camping (coincidence?).
The hike started down, down, down into a valley with a cool stream and wonderful views all around.  We splashed around and had lunch, and at this point, the younger hikers, their Moms, and Alice (she decided it’d be more fun back at camp with the other girls) decided to head back to the cars. 
Cecile, Me, Michelle, Kim, and Roguie.
Our family (including Freckle), Michelle, and Henry trudged on.
And on and on and on.  We thought we were doing GREAT!!!  Feeling good, crossing streams, watching the distance tick on by on my GPS watch.  And then we came to another stream crossing.  Huh?  With a turn off to the Swift Creek Trail.  Double huh?  Didn’t we pass that back at lunch?  Aren’t we four miles in with just a little bit to go before we get to the lake?  Sean, my geologist husband, was expressing his doubt at the location…where would an alpine lake be around here?  Our doubts were growing.  Never fear—we KNEW we were on a trail, but had we really gone four miles?  “Let me check something…,” Melinda says.
“Whoopsie!  You know how we thought we’d gone four miles?  Silly me, the watch was measuring kilometers!”  And then I ran ahead before they could beat me with a stick.  Good thing it was 80+ degrees…they didn’t have the energy.
So we continued on again.  Across some huge boulder and scree fields in the blazing sun…
Up a blinding snowfield…
To finally arrive at…Lake Ann.  A frozen Lake Ann. 
At this point, everyone was so tired, we collapsed under a tree, had some watermelon, and regrouped.
Most of our hiking party was content to stay put and keep regrouping, but Sean and I went about a quarter mile more to see what there was to see.  So glad we did!  It was so sunny and bright, the glaciers of Mount Shuksan were glowing with the sun shining down on them.  In the upper left, that’s the Upper Curtis Glacier, and in the middle, that’s the Lower Curtis Glacier. 
There’s a climbing route around the left of the Lower Curtis Glacier and over the top of the Upper Curtis Glacier to summit Mount Shuksan…I think I am totally content with never doing that particular climb. My bucket list is filled with different things than climbing rocks and crossing crevasses.  Hiking, yes, climbing, no.
It was nearly impossible to keep your eyes open to look into the camera and smile. “One, two, three, OPEN YOUR EYES!” Click.
I think I need to explain this last picture.  It looks like it’s overcast and that my children were doused in a rainstorm.  Not so.  If I remember correctly, it wasn’t overcast at all; in fact, Michelle’s pictures from her nicer-than-mine camera show pretty bright blue skies.  All the water drenching the boys came from that nice little stream I showed you in the beginning.  Any time we came across a stream on this hike, we’d sprinkle some water on our heads.  By the time we were finishing the hike in 85 degree weather, we were just about jumping in it.

Family Camp at Silver Lake

For the past six or seven years, my girlfriends and I have had a girls’ weekend in the early spring.  For the past couple of years, we’ve all talked about having a second girls weekend in the fall, but it hasn’t materialized.  That’s okay though…because last year, we started up the Family Camp tradition.  Granted, not all of the dozen girlfriends like camping, so some may never see the dirt of the campsite. 
But Kerry, Michelle, and me?  We were in from the start, and our kids loved it—it was a highlight for their summer.  Matthew and Sean—they bonded through Ladder Ball.  And this year, Cecile and Kim and their kids joined us as well.
We barely took any photos at the campsite, but we did get a couple of the Orange Cake dessert—vanilla cake batter filled into hollowed out oranges, then wrapped in foil and baked in the campfire.  Yummy!  And so much better than last year’s “Smoky Cherry Chocolate Cake” (smoky is code for burnt).
Next year, we’ll be back.  August 23-25, in case you need to mark your calendars.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Steppin’ Out on Sauk Mountain

I found a great website this summer.  It’s for the Washington Trails Association and has all sorts of information about hikes in Washington State (duh).  I did a search for a hike of yada yada distance within yada yada miles from home, and turned up with Sauk Mountain.  The trip reports sounded awesome.  The weather was awesome.  But alas, our upcoming weekend had plans (no idea what—I am two months late in posting about this), and our regular hiking partners, the Bergmans couldn’t make the hike on a weekday.  I had to find a substitute group, otherwise my children would be potentially be a whining mess that I’d need to haul up the mountain.  That wasn’t something I wanted to deal with, so I called Marnie.  Their family does backpacking, and Sully is a great friend of Guyan’s (and very nice to Owen).  She said yes, and it was a great match.

The trail was about four miles, with lots of switchbacks.  LOTS—some guy on the way down told us there were more than thirty.  The wildflowers were out, and the views were incredible.  This hike seemed to pack more views in for less effort—views for 90% of the hike.  Incredible.



Near the top, there was a small crop of rocks, and a marmot just sitting there watching us.  He’s right here in the middle of this picture, like a giant guinea pig.  The boys named him Marmot Joe.


We got to the top, and the views did not stop—355 degrees (there was one rock that blocked a tiny little part of the view).  Owen gave it a thumbs up.  My, I do believe he’s turning into a hiker.


He gets a thumbs up from me too.

Me & Owen

This is Hailey, Sully’s sister and the only one of us to have the guts to climb up on one of the tallest rocks at the summit.  I love this picture.

CIMG0189Cools and Smiths

On our way back down, I kept thinking how thrilled I was with the hike.  We were going to have to come back to share it with Sean and our regular hiking buddies, too.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

One Last Picture…

And we can’t end the Depoe Bay Trip without a staged family portrait.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Newport Aquarium

The boys and Sean took a trip to the Newport Aquarium with all the cousins, aunts and uncles. 


There was a tank with shrimp in it that munched the dead skin off your hand.  Guyan loved it, Sean thought it was pretty cool, and Owen…you be the judge.