Enchanted Valley - Olympic Natl Park
27 miles in 29 hours haha. Longest slog I’ve ever done for an overnight backpacking trip. As well, in the passed few weeks, battling a tweaked IT band! The bastard crapped out on me at about mile 8! haha >:( BUT I knew what lie ahead and dug deep to get there. And what an amazing valley it was! A flowing river cutting in between towering, nearly shear mountain walls with cascades and stunning peaks! While my body was soar and my knee was telling me where I could go F myself, this hike was TOTALLY worth it! :D
Goat Lake via Elliot Creek - Mt Baker Natl Forest
Rachel Lake via Box Canyon - Central Cascades
Hoh Rainforest - Olympic Natl Park
Elwah River - Olympic Natl Park
Flapjack Lakes Olympic Natl Park…
After getting new packrafts and spending some time on the water getting used to them this passed week, it was time to start looking for places to put the pack to the raft! haha. Now, having only just gotten to Washington, and experiencing seasonal change vs the month it is, it was tough to discern whether or not any of the mountain lakes in Olympic were even melted. To have an additional 6+ lbs hiking up (what was revealed to be steep as F) trail only to find it still frozen would have been a huge let down haha. But, in typical fashion, pleasant surprise found me. I wished so badly to have had my raft by the time Flapjack lake came into view! I’d have gladly humped that little guy up that 2425 ft climb had I known hahaha… welp, another trip on another day! :) Plus I heard from the ranger that there’s a lot of great fishing for a ”guy with one of those neat little boats” to get out and do, so I definitely wanna get in on that action ;)
Olympic Natl Park was, as always, a marvelously beautiful wonderland of temperate rainforest to hike through. And that water color never ceases to amaze me. I took more than a hundred pictures in as many steps because every one brought an ever so slight but all together different perspective/vantage point of the Skokomish river…
Till next time…
Get Outside Campaign 9 pt I…
My best bud, Brad from back home, came out to visit beautiful Colorado. He’d never been out here before and it was as always, an extra rad thing to show him the area. He’s a very enthusiastic outdoorsman, though Ohio isn’t necessarily the most epic of hiking/camping/backpacking areas to do so haha, still he takes every chance he can to Get Outside! so it was no shock and quite a great opportunity on both our part for him to be eager to do an overnighter despite the low temps! :D
I have never been winter camping, let alone in the high mountains of Rocky Mt Natl Park! It did necessitate procuring a few bits of gear, like a 0° sleeping bag and collapsible shovel, but overall I was very pleased at how prepared we already were after reading up on enjoyable winter camping :) One thing that I have come to enjoy so much and also something I was really excited to get Brad to partake in was snowshoeing! While the trails for the first 1/2 – 3/4 from Glacier Gorge to Alberta falls and just after were pretty hard packed from high traffic, we found that with 40lbs of gear on our backs, hiking without them was terribly slow going. As we reached the last leg of our trail where the snow was well over 2ft it was super fun hopping in and out of the drifts :D Despite our packs suckin the life out of us/him in the higher, thinner air which he wasn’t quite used to, he still rocked it! We mad it the 3 miles to our camp in as many hours :)
The ascent to the lake was fuggin tough! haha. Steep with deep snow we made it to the top. Watching the excitement of Brad taking in the absolutely stunning beauty of the mountains was all we needed to fuel our ascent. There was such a strong wind snappin off the surrounding ridges (18-20 mph!), I was knocked over twice! But, reaching the lake and soaking in our trophy view was priceless.
Get Outside Campaign 9 pt II…
My brother, an Airborne Infantry vet, always stressed the importance of “the priorities of work”. Basically a simple discipline to get camp set, wood gathered, gear unpacked etc, stole us away from our GORGEOUS triumphant lake view. It was this that was a childhood dream lived haha we got to build a snow fort! Digging out about 2ft for our tent and a 6ft by 5ft kitchen den to stay out of the wind, that little shovel became the MVP of the day haha. As the sun went down and we sat nippin on our hot spiced cider, snacking on cold cuts and cheese a light snow began to fall. A perfect day.
Morning came and while the gear totally earned the coin I dropped on it haha, we stirred to find the evening’s snow had freshly blanketed us in our camp. As the sun broke through the mountains up over through the pines surrounding us, we broke camp and our fingers about froze off haha :P Back on the trail we made record time heading back to the trailhead. The snow continued to fall and made the scenery already viewed the day before even more wonderful. Nature’s cool like that. I’ve been on that trail three times now, and every time it has been different and more beautiful than the last :)
In conclusion, this most recent edition of Buds vs Wild was a tremendous success and I couldn’t have been more happy dodging work on a holiday weekend than to spend it in the mountains busting my hump, fingers frozen, at times 20mph winds, falling into deep snow and having the absolute best time with my best bud :)
Eagles Nest Wilderness
I love Colorado.
Did an overnighter in the Eagles Nest Wilderness in Frisco, CO this past weekend and just when I thought I couldn’t be in any more love with this place, a mere 4 mile hike up 2200’ of elevation brought me right at the feet of Deming Mt, Eccles Peak and Buffalo Mt. surrounding us in the Meadow Creek basin. We were camped at about 11400’ with Keystone, CO’s mountains to our South right outside the front door of our tent and despite the temp dropping into the low 20s, our rockin fire kept us warm and toasty with our spiked cider well into the morning hours stargazing :D I have been high on the buzz of this trip since haha. I look so very forward to getting out into the deeper ranges in th coming weeks. I want to aquire some snowshoes though, there was about 5-8” of snow in places and made progress tough! But also it’ll afford more dirty fun havins in the many trails around here!
The air has gotten crisp and the leaves are beginning to rust with the onset of fall. Such a beautiful time to be outside here in Asheville. On a recent trip to the Linville gorge, “The Grand Canyon of the East”, is far from the exception. With crystal clear skies, panoramic views and delightful daytime temps of around 75°, the trail along the eastern rim of Shortoff Mt. has got to be one of the very best and easily accessible wonders on Western North Carolina.
It was this time last year that a section of the AT on the southern balds of Roan Mt, TN had taken the cake for best fall hike, but as the summit of Shortoff Mt was reached, it became obvious that even after at least 6 overnight trips on this same trail, Linville Gorge will always surprise and reward you with just about the most awesome scenery around. The small pluton campsite gave us a superb shot of the gorge and sky and despite being walloped but super high winds come nightfall, the star gazing was the cherry on top of a perfect day of hiking and camping sundae haha.
YUR a trekking poles…
Many months ago, I was asked how I felt about the use of trekking poles out on the trail… I was on the fence for a long time but I’ve finally fallen to a side. I am for them! I recently had
a disastrous wrong turn down a hellacious bushwhacking descent an adventure that really tweaked my knee and has hindered my hiking quite a bit :\ though, with a regiment of calisthenics, I have been able to slowly bounce back and to aid in this/help prevent future trail torture, I scooped up a pair of trekking poles from theClymb for only $5! haha
When window-shopping around for said poles, I had a few criteria that these poles met:
- Cork hand grips: I felt that cork would be the optimal grip for moisture and feel. I wrapped my hand around a few different types of grip at REI and I noticed a few rubber grips would leave a black residue on my >:\
- Extended grip: this allows for choking up for particularly steep spots, which was even cooler with these as it was also cork.
- Collapsible: Kind of a “No Doi” there, but for pack-ability etc…
- Weight: While this wasn’t a huge concern for me, but I definitely stayed away from the poles made of lead :P
I field tested these bad Larrys on a quick little jaunt on a great trail nearby the apartment called the Craggy Gardens. It’s a pretty sweet trail, only about a mile long but it has a slight pitch up and down with some rocky spots and log hops that were great to test how these thing would hopefully help out the ol bum knee and they worked great!
I packed only about 10 lbs as to not over do it if my knee should start cussing me out but at the end of it all I was sold! They acted almost like a hand rail and really softened the steps down. I look forward to getting out on longer trails with my usual weighted pack and having that extra reassurance of babying the knee and being able to get back outside a lot sooner!
Just for funsies, a shot of the summit of the Craggy Gardens