The Routeburn Track
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Of all 2000+ pictures I’ve taken while in beautiful New Zealand, the sights and scenery of our time on the Routeburn Track in Fjordlands and Mt Aspiring Natl Parks was the best experience of both islands there.
Hiking in from the Divide trailhead, ascending the Humboldt mountain range, stopping into Mackenzie Lake hut and Routeburn Falls hut over three days was by far the greatest hiking experience I’ve ever had.
I hope you enjoy these pictures, I could very easily ramble on and on about the absolute wonder of this place but my words fall so short in so many ways!
Havasupai Falls 2 of 3
Havasupai Falls, descending through cave tunnels and a quite precarious chain and ladder system to the foot of Mooney Falls, Mooney Falls and surrounding water and stuff…
Havasupai Falls 1 of 3
I’ve come to find out that if I wanted to go camping in the Grand Canyon sometime this winter, I needed to send off for a permit on my third birthday… A fella at REI recommended going through Havasupai Indian Reservation and that it was a way to avoid the Natl Park red tape and still get into the canyon so I thought WORD!
I sat on the phone for EIGHT DAYS trying to get through. I called every 5-10 mins and only got ringing… I had literally given up and on the Friday before leaving, I thought, “ok, one last attempt.” And they answered on the first ring!?! haha so suffice it to say, after that I pretty much hopped to with the gear and necessaries and bombed out there! :D
The hike in was 10 miles with an initial descent of about 2200’ in a mile and a half. But really not all that bad as far as what I had heard regarding desert hiking! Starting early in the morning is DEFINITELY the way to go. Once that mid-day sun hits you, it’s a killer…
I really cannot begin to describe how amazingly beautiful this place was. The desert entry was neat and cool and a beautiful place in all the normal wonderful ways, but coming up upon a turquoise river cascading down and down with a backdrop of bright orange canyon walls and surrounding trees in full autumn glory was almost too much to handle. I had a hard time convincing myself that this place really exists! haha
North Cascades Natl Park
Not a whole week after having been on Rainier, I had a couple days to go with a new bud here in town to the North Cascades Natl Park. What a breathtakingly beautiful place it is! I could not believe I had not yet gone up there and attempted SO many more trips while being here!!!
Our plan was pretty simple. Paddle in on Ross arm up and through Ross lake to Cougar Island, camp over night and bushwhack up the bank day 2 and meet up with the Pacific Northwest trail and take it back to the car… that was the plan anyways haha. I wouldn’t say things went wrong? but to quote the great Yvon Chouinard “…when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts.” And for us that was the case as we set in on Ruby creek. My intention and understanding, even after speaking with the Ranger as we got our permit, was that we paddle down Ruby creek into Ross Arm and paddle paddle paddle to the Island. We were suddenly met with half of a dozen class I -III white water rapids! For about 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile we two never been on rapids before shmucks bore down and rode those bad larrys all the way through! Soaked to the bone, adrenaline jacked we hopped out afterward to drain the boats and thump our chests at getting through that! It could have very easily turned into a very bad day for either one or the both of us but MAN! Getting through those was probably one of the most exciting backcounty experiences I’ve ever had! :D Our Alpacka boats held up like champs! The one loss, though, was that I’d unknowingly left the camera in the pocket of my shorts >:\ The remaining paddle out was without issue and we soon arrived onto our little island for the night.
Day 2, up and at it, we made our way to the opposite bank. Using a prominent creek as a bearing we scrambled up about 300ft on a quick recon before humping all the gear. The estimated 200-300ft bushwhack carried on for MUCH longer than originally anticipated and after finding the trail eventually, surmised that with an additional 20lbs up that hill sounded slightly worse than the 5 mile paddle to the Ross dam and out on the portage trail… so we opted for the latter.
With one hell of a start and rounded out with some of the most beautiful scenery Washington ceases to impress with, the trip was a considerable success :)
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
Get Outside Campaign 11, Ozette Lake to Sand Point - Olympic Natl Park
Steph’s brother came to visit all the way from Baton Rouge, LA! It was his first time anywhere other than OH and LA haha. Suffice it to say he loved WA and getting to hike and paddle and see the Pacific ocean! It was a really awesome getting to watch him experience all of those things!
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 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 :)