Lucia Falls Hike

Hike Distance: 0.6 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 962 miles

Elevation Gain: 133 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 102617 feet

It’s been a very tumultuous week that began with a sudden, unexpected and painful hemorrhoid issue that landed me in ER.  ER was kind, and appeared thorough, but apparently the PA I had was unqualified to treat my common issue.  The next day was a return to the same bad situation, and I was able to get an appointment with my primary care physician, who referred me to a surgeon.  My primary care physician is an excellent and caring doctor, and was able to get me in to a surgeon by the end of the day.  The surgeon performed a successful procedure, and found a large blood clot that was missed by ER, and needed to do additional cutting to promote proper healing.

I was told not to do any hiking (miles worth) for the next one to two weeks.  After calling the surgery department on Friday, they indicated they didn’t want me to be bed bound.  So, we decided on this incredibly short walk (I went on a longer walk in Costco the day before).

It was so nice to get out for some fresh air and to watch the beautiful Lucia Falls flowing!  Thankfully, Lucia Falls Park wasn’t very crowded as water contact isn’t allowed in the park.  The Moulton Falls area looked packed, as we had to drive an alternate route to Lucia Falls due to a motorcycle accident. 😦

Mt. Rainier NP Hike Westside Rd. TH To Lake George

Hike Distance: 10.8 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 961.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 1936 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 102484 feet

We headed out to Mt. Rainier again and decided to try the trail to Lake George.  The Westside Road is in very good condition with only a few potholes, and they weren’t too bad.  The temperature was very pleasant today with winds gusting and cooling us down further.  In addition, we didn’t see any snow on the road or trail today, and were glad we left the micro-spikes in the car.

Several miles up Westside Road  it is gated and locked, and there is a small parking area.  We had to park a short distance down the road as the main parking area was filled.  We weren’t sure why this road was gated, as the conditions were quite good, but this is now considered a multi-use trail.   As such, we saw several bicycles making use of this very long road.  About four miles up the road is where the “real” trail for George Lake is spawned.  From the maps, it appears that many trails start from this now converted road, and we’ll be back to access them!

The Lake George trail goes much further than the lake, and can be taken to Gobblers Knob (a favorite with the hikers we met), but we didn’t want a 12+ mile hike today.  The distance to Lake George is only about one mile, and about 2/3 of that is ascending.  There is a nice view of Mt. Rainier along the way.

Lake George is a magnificent high elevation lake, and a great destination for those who backpack.  We didn’t stay long as we had a 5+ mile return hike, and it was already very late.  We actually started our hike just before 2pm as we got out of the house late, and the delay to get into the park was about 1/2 hour. 😦

This is a magnificent area to explore and we will definitely be coming back here as much as possible.  Despite the large number of cars, it felt like one of the less used areas we’ve been in at Mt. Rainier NP.  Beware that at this time of year the biting flies were out in force.  We saw one couple turn around after being harassed by these pests.  We, however, were outfitted in long pants and long sleeved shirts, and felt shielded from the misery. 🙂   A truly fantastic area and awesome day!

 

PCT Trail Angel Hike Bunker Hill to Sedum Ridge

Hike Distance: 8.1 miles        Yearly Hike Distance: 950.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1299 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 1000548 feet

Deciding upon providing trail magic on the PCT we set out for Trout Creek, where there is a small parking area from which to begin our hike.

My wife (Care Package) and I (Mileage Mike) went out again, to provide trail magic, on the PCT between Bunker Hill and Sedum Ridge in southern WA state. We cleaned up the trail a bit as we ascended up towards Sedum Ridge and stopped for a snack before turning around. Just before we were about to turn around, here comes some thru-hikers!  The first two we met were Cheddar and Cruise! The second two we met were Stretch and Bubbles! Both groups had travelled together to the Bridge of the Gods from being on the Oregon Coast Trail. Great people to talk with, and we handed out Oreo’s and Starbucks Via coffee packets. We wished them a fun and safe journey.  We also saw several other small section PCT backpackers that were out in the great weather.

Wright Meadow TH to Craggy Peak Trail North Hike

Hike Distance: 9.0 miles        Yearly Hike Distance: 942.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1524 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 99249 feet

We were looking for some place we haven’t been in a while, so we headed out to the Dark Divide.  I thought we’d give the Craggy Peak trail a try, and see if we can get any stellar views.

To begin, the drive was very long and the road sucked!  This road isn’t as bad as that to Grassy Knoll, but it ranks up there.  Much of the road is paved but contains small stretches that are rough and small drops.  There was logging going on and this is a single lane road with only a few places to pull to the side.  You also feel like your driving on a ledge.  Add this to Google Maps taking us to the wrong location and you have a bad beginning.  We ended up backtracking and parking at the Wright Meadow TH, which has no official parking but has room on the edge of the road, at this intersection.

The Wright Meadow Trail starts off going through old growth, which is fantastic.  After about 1 mile we turned onto the Craggy Peak Trail.  This trail is rutted, by all the dirt bike traffic, and only gets worse as you ascend up the trail.  Wright Creek was quite beautiful and the water crystal clear.  The trail ascends up along the creek but is in bad shape.  We then, again, walked through some old growth trees, and even saw some snow mounds still on/off trail (but passable).  Surprisingly, insects weren’t an issue!

As we ascended, you feel as though you might reach a viewpoint, but we never did.  It is evident that the trail has plenty of water flow during snow melt, and this only aggravates the deep ruts from the dirt bikes.  As we hiked along, there started to be blowdown across the trail, and following it only got worse.  We ended up getting so tired of climbing over and around blowdown, and avoiding walking in the deep ruts, that we turned around and called it quits.

On the way back I found a small trail that lead to a graveled road, that we followed back to the creek crossing, to avoid the rutted trail that paralleled the creek.  On the way back, you got a small glimpse of Mt. St. Helens through the trees, but the view was obstructed and too hazy for a picture.  We admired the old growth, that would probably eventually be logged, on our way back.

Still a worthwhile hike but not one we’ll come back to, unless the trail is cleaned up. 😦

Red Lake Trail to PCT Hike

Hike Distance: 9.4 miles        Yearly Hike Distance: 933.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 1982 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 97725 feet

This trail has been on my radar for a few years but we’ve never gotten the chance to hike on it.  I think it’s because of the close proximity to Olallie Lake and the conscious choice to hike the PCT in that region instead.  The parking area is not obvious, with only a few places to park, but there is a TH sign slightly off the road on the trail.

The trail starts out ascending rapidly.  This trail feels like it’s a stream during the wet season and at snow melt times.  The trail also feels like nobody goes on it as the vegetation is encroaching on it in many places, but with few broken branches.  We spent some time trimming them so our return wouldn’t be obstructed.  There was also a massive amount of blooming Beargrass all over the trail, which added a sweet fragrance to our hike. 🙂

During the ascent you’ll break out into a power line area that has a nice view of the surrounding mountains.  This is the only grand view you’ll see on this trail.  The trail also goes along a gravel road before getting to the power lines, but I found the signage to be useful.

Once you reach the Red Lake intersection is where the real fun begins.  The trail levels out for the next couple miles and you will have the opportunity to see a multitude of spectacular clear lakes.  This stretch of the trail reminds us of Indian Heaven Wilderness, as there are a multitude of lakes on a plateau, and I would call this place a hidden gem!  We only saw two groups of two people during this entire hike.  A group of two very nice gentlemen were seen at Averill Lake, and we talked with them for a while.  We also noticed a huge number of those small blue needle-sized dragonflies on the grasses growing out of Averill Lake.  It was a beautiful sight!  At Sheep Lake we admired a view of Olallie Butte in the background, which was gorgeous!

We kept seeing lake after beautiful lake for the next couple of miles, until we reached an intersection where we turned right (south) to head toward the PCT.  At this intersection we met a very nice couple and their dog:  Kari, Alberto and their dog Sebastion!  We had a very nice talk with them!

After the intersection the trail ascends, and is in rather poor condition for much of this section.  This section feels like your hiking up a stream bed.  We finally reached the PCT intersection, and bumped into a couple of woman that were hiking a very small section.  They were swatting at mosquitoes and then put on some repellent.  Until this intersection we hardly noticed the mosquitoes, but then left quickly to get away from them.

Our outbound hike to the PCT was so slow, due to stopping to admire and take pictures, that we had to head back quickly to avoid driving out in the dark.  This is a fantastic trail and we definitely intend on returning to this area ASAP. 🙂