Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mailbox Peak

Elevation gain - 4000ft
Distance - 5.0 miles
Pack weight - 10 lbs
Time: 3hrs up, 2hrs down

Finally a check on Mailbox! I decided to do this hike today as it was warm, clear and dry. I decided to not take the pack as I was going with meetup and needed to maintain my speed. The hike starts out ok, but then wastes no time in becoming outright steep. Its literally cable line times 2. But I soon realized that I was lot more scared than I needed to be. It was steep, which is usually ok going up and I kept thinking about way down. First 1/3rd is dirt trail. After that it becomes full of roots and becomes a little confusing. Just follow the white diamonds. Roots help as they make it more of a stair master. After a long time you get out of the trees and reach a rocky section that can be scrambled, but I decided to take the trail. There is still about 30 - 40 min of hiking left after that. Towards the end its Bandera Mtn style scramble, a little less steep. This is where I found some tricky spots, especially going down.
In this last section there were great display of wild flowers, tiger lillies were just everywhere! And so were paint brushes. Finally reach the false peak and from there can see the mailbox which was awesome!
Coming down was easier than I had imagined. Couple of tricky spots in the beginning and then towards the end, rest was just slow careful stepping to not trip on roots!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Squire Creek Pass

Elevation gain - 2400ft
Distance - 6.5 miles
Pack weight - 10 lbs

The hike starts at Eight Mile trailhead. It used to be one-way hike with car shuttle, but part of the trail after Pass got washed out. It starts out quite steep, almost too steep for 2400ft hike. Mid-way we saw the 3'o clock rock and saw some climbers. After 3/4th of the way you get into meadows where the grade eases out. There were couple of interesting creek crossings and muddy patches. There are no real clear views on the way, its all in the forest. Only when you get to the pass you see 4-fingers and other mountains. In all I was not very impressed, too much work for such little reward.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Bandera Mountain

Elevation gain - 3300ft
Distance - 8 - 9 miles
Pack weight - 35 lbs

Gorgeous day to hike Bandera. Beargrass was in almost full bloom, and so were lot of other wild flowers. I carried ~30lbs for conditioning. The trail is easy, so that was not a problem. First glimpses of Rainier were great, but main attraction was definitely beargrass filled slopes. We first went to the lake which is about a mile from junction. It was not really impressive, probably good to sit and eat lunch but nothing else. Then we headed up the scramble section to the top of Bandera. Its much longer than it looks, there is bit of climbing even after the scramble section ends. But the scramble was definitely the best, wild flowers and bear grass everywhere. I saw so many tiger-lillies, it was just delightful!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Mt Si and Tiger West 3

5200 ft elevation gain and 14 miles, that was the hike for today, and just 40 min away from Kirkland. I took Saturday off because I thought my leg needed rest. It was rested today so decided to go for Si and was prepared to turn back in case it started hurting or anything. Started the hike with 30lb pack. Around 2 mile mark, it felt that I should get rid of some of the water and lighten my pack. So I did, and down to 25lbs.
Made it to top in about 2hrs with a light pack. I did not want to run down this time as that puts too much pressure on legs. Walked down slowly. I started at 8:48 and was back before 1:00.
While going up Si, I was thinking, not yet challenged enough, especially with light pack, so how about Tiger. I remember from days of training for full marathon, how I really needed to push myself beyond what I could do. A hike up Si was not going to do that. So next I went up Tiger West 3. No pack this time, but it was still tough. Last 1/2 mile was really hard. Luckily I saw some tiger lillies. That totally made my day. Tiger lillies on top of tiger mountain :) I did the last 1/2 mile from one flower to other.
The way back was fast as I just wanted to get in the car, go home and relax.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Adams Day 2

We headed out @8:00 am. First task was to gear up in the cold, put on crampons, helmet, ice axe etc. etc. That itself felt tiring. The day was perfectly clear and we could see all the way up to the false summit, straight way up. The slop is steep at places where we were learning to traverse by making our own switch backs. At the false summit it was very windy and cold. The real summit was looking like in a full all white-out. It was also very cold at this point and I needed to put on second layer which was impossible to do in the cold and wind and with cramponed shoes. I had chosen a full pants as extra layer instead of proper rain / wind breaker pants that have side chain. Now I know why they make those special pants with side chains so that they are easy to put on and off. Not surprising I tore part of the leg of the pants with crampons, I did not care. Finally were on and provided little relief from the cold. I almost did not want to go any further. We did not take much break, just headed straight up. The way from false summit to real was much better, longer traverses, but I was able to follow. It also felt less cold, less exposed.

Finally a summit, one quick summit photo and then heading back. It was all ok to false summit but from here the way to go down the steep slope is glisade! There were a couple of glisading tracks made, you are support to just sit in one of them and slide down. Me, terrified of sliding of any kind, even never went down the phisal-patti in school, did not know how to do it. The alternative of walking down the steep slope was also worse. Somehow skidding sliding, sometimes making my own path, I made it down. Phew.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Adams Day 1

Gear check, permits etc.
Drive to trail head
Lunch Counter, no crampons, not icy, grade was ok, feeling good.
Dug to create platform for tents
Too windy, melting snow, not feeling great, too cold I suppose even with all gear. Did not eat too much.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Adams Day 0

Drove to Beacon State Park, camped