Hike to Mt Pugh

A combination of pleasant and adventurous trail, encounters with flora and fauna with near panoramic views of surrounding mountains and valleys made this a fantastic hike. This one was on my bucket list since long. Finally when my Himalayan trek friend, Rajesh decided to visit me for Washington hikes, I finalized on this one since I was quite confident with his abilities. I read few trip reports which had mixed reviews on the intimidating trail. The forecast predicted a cloudy morning and intermittent clouds in the afternoon. I was both excited and apprehensive.

We started hiking around 9:30 AM and the first 3.5 miles was completely covered with trees with a gentle grade. We covered this part within 2 hours. We could see the green meadows on Stujack pass and lots of clouds. The wildflowers and birds on the meadows was a delight to watch. The trail from here on would go along a narrow exposed ridge followed by a scramble and a short hike to the summit. Whatever vertigo, scare of height the trip reports had mentioned, I didn’t feel it since it was so cloudy that I couldn’t see all the way to the bottom. I would have preferred the views instead of help from the clouds. Except for 1 or 2 tricky sections, the trail was quite ok and the scramble up was fine too. A hiker on the pass had tipped us that it would be ok (even if it looks intimidating) since the section was blasted with dynamites to make steps. The clouds were with us all the way to the summit. We had taken 3.5 hours to gain 5200 feet covering 5.5 miles. I was already thinking about coming back for the views but things started to look better. The summit section provided intermittent views of surroundings and we had nice time looking at the mountains and valleys around while having Pulao and Poha for lunch. I chose to wait for more time on summit in the hopes of clear weather but it didn’t get much better. So after 70 minutes we started to descend and from then on it was a complete blast with the views. Even though the summit was surrounded with clouds throughout, below sections were clear and we could see the mountains in the far all around. It was just breathtaking near panoramic view. I was so delighted looking at the windy river in the valley, snow capped mountains, jagged pointy peaks and suns rays blasting through the clouds. I captured some photoshperes on my phone and found some interesting campsites on the way. I think we took more time descending this section of the trail compared to going up. The ridge was completely clear now and I could see all the way to the bottom. The pass too provided with light winds and butterflies kind of led the way on the trail which was quite nice too. The final section was in the woods and pleasant as usual. Actually the weather helped us all along providing shade while going up and views while coming down. It was a fantastic day out.

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Categories: Adventure, Outdoors, Seattle | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Backpacking to Garibaldi Provincial Park

The view of the blue Garibaldi lake from the Panorama ridge was enough to put this place on the bucket list. So when a hiker posted a camping trip which would cover this place and scramble to nearby mountains, I signed up, also because I wanted to try backpacking. I booked my permits for the camp spot and was excited for the trip. The rains changed our plans completely and I didn’t get to see the view I wanted to, nevertheless I had a nice peaceful time reading Homo Deus and exploring lakes and meadows.
Day 1:

We started on Friday morning and after a quick border crossing into Canada, we were at the trailhead by 11.30. It was a quick 2.5 hour hike to the Taylor Meadows campground. I carried less and was actually under prepared for the outing. I didn’t feel the weight of backpack much and comfortably made it to the campsite. The trail was quite wide, well marked with sign posts at the junctions. We could see the magnificent Black tusk mountain over us which we were supposed to climb on Sunday. The campsite itself was very impressive – a raised flat wooden platform for pitching tents, a wooden tiny bench, enclosed shelters for cooking/food storage, creek nearby and a smaller creek right beside the tent and clean toilets amidst the green trees and meadows. I was surprised at the facilities and was already thinking about coming back. We set up our tents, had food and went to explore Garibaldi lake. The turquoise color was visible from a distance. We walked along the banks of the lake to reach the lakeside campground and their views were spectacular. I was not expecting a huge glacier on the other side of the like, so that was quite a surprise. The lake with its clear water where tiny fishes kept jumping amidst numerous peaks around looked magnificent. We returned for the night to our campground and I relatively had decent sleep even with a loud group near my tent.
Day 2:

It had started raining by the time I got up and we all waited for it to reduce. According to the forecast I had checked the previous day, the rain would stop by 9 AM but it didn’t. I hadn’t carried my raincoat, so I decided to wait and not hike in the rain. My fellow hikers left around 9.30 AM and I waited in my tent for rain to recede while I started reading Homo Deus on my Kindle. What surprised me was my calmness. I just chose to wait and read without getting disappointed or anxious. After a while, I cooked food from the readymade pouch which tasted ok. The rain almost disappeared at around 12 and I left for Panorama ridge viewpoint. I suddenly realized that I hiking solo was in bear country and was actually scared. It was a respite whenever I encountered people and I felt a bit comfortable seeing other solo hikers. Even with clouds completely covering the sky it was beautiful with the fog making its way between the trees. I encountered several small lakes and flowers. It got more foggy by the time I was on the ridge and visibility dropped to around 10 meters. A father and son followed me and I was comfortable hiking with them all the way to the viewpoint (without a view). We started descending and it started to get clear and I could see streams and mountains around. Actually, it was very serene and I felt good being there. I decided to go visit the lake again and this time I played music on phone in an attempt to keep the bears away. Fortunately I didn’t encounter any bear and I met my group at the lake. We went back to the campsite and I slept even better this time.
Day 3:

It started raining again in the morning, so we decided to descend to the parking lot and visit a nearby waterfalls. I went back in the tent to continue reading. I was actually enjoying the book and was having a great time reading. Finally, the rain receded and we packed and left for the trailhead. It was a quick decent and for the first time, I had a blister on my toe. I just changed to sandals and left worrying about it. We visited Brandyvine falls, had lunch and then returned to Seattle by evening. Border crossing via Peace Arch on Friday morning and via Lynden on Sunday evening didn’t take more than 10 minutes.

Though, I couldn’t get the views I expected, it was a decent trip. I learnt few stuff and was happy with the way I felt even though plans didn’t turn the way we wanted. Will be better prepared for next backpacking trip and hopefully will return to Garibaldi someday.

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Hike to Mt Baring [Hard]

With 3900 ft of elevation gain within 3.5 miles, this is one of the hardest hikes I have done. Well, looking at the numbers before the hike, I was confident though the description said 1500 ft gain in the first 3/4th mile. I didn’t expect the hike to be an ass kicker, knee puncher and a sweat dripper.

A meetup hike and I signed up looking at the event note which said it would be steep, difficult and would involve scrambling. I read some trip reports and one said that they took 6 hours to go up with good number of breaks. I was like why would it take 6 hours for such a short hike but eventually, I did understand. We started quite late, met at 8 AM and through the last 4 mile gravel road, reached the Barclay lake trailhead around 9.30 AM. The trail started right behind the restroom. I initially thought it was a short trail for restroom overflow but little did I know that this pee trail would take 8 hours long. I packed light and wore my favorite Quechua hiking shoes. The first 0.2 miles was almost flat and then the real workout started. The next 0.6 miles was super steep and gained 1500 feet. I think this is the steepest 0.5 mile hike I have done (barring the long scrambles). We went off trail at times but eventually made it to the main trial. The next section of hike was around 1 mile and was almost flat except a last super steep ascend again which took us to the boulder field. We could see both the North and South Baring summit blocks from there. The next section was hiking on the boulders on a narrow gully which was of course, super steep. We made it to the point between the two summits and headed for the north one. The final stretch to the summit was the combination of whatever we had done. Finally after around 4 hours, we made it to the summit and I was excited especially because a fellow hiker had told that this was a base jumping location. I roamed around to see and I was surprised at what I saw. I only had seen base jumping locations in media where there would be huge drop with a meadow valley. I saw almost exactly the same and a lake and with wide green patch below which looked like landing spot. It was hazy due to the wildfires which hampered the surrounding views. But I was still happy with whatever I could see. I had my lunch – actually I had stuffed aloo, carrot sabji in chapati – and it tasted quite nice. A fellow hiker had a nice sense of humor and it was fun listening to his jokes. He kept collecting berries and had a sizable bunch for the lunch. After a decent 50 min break during which I took a nap (and dreamt too), we started the descent. The descent felt quite quicker. While waiting for a hiker, we encountered Pika up close which was quite cute. The descent was ok till the last section. I had the hardest time coming down this steep section switching my pole from hand to hand and using the other hand to get hold of whatever I could. Sweat was literally dripping, in Kannada neer ildoytu. I dropped pole sometimes, slid and did many unusual things to get myself safely down. It was steep almost the entire way and took my concentration. I grunted when I reached the flat part and was glad to have descended safely. It was a fantastic workout with solid 7 people group. I checked my weight after coming to Seattle and I had reduced by 1.5 pounds.

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Hike to Vesper Peak

I have been wanting to go on this hike since 2 years. The pictures looked amazing and I kind of like the name itself. Jim from Snohomish County Hiking Group posted the hike on Meetup for this Sunday and I signed up for it. The forecast said light rain in the AM and clouds later on. I was fine with it since I didn’t want to see the views in the haze from recent wildfires around. We started very early – we all met at 6 AM and started the hike before 8 AM. A hiker has been missing since 10 days, so there were packets of food stored at places. So this hike was in news a lot lately.┬áIt was drizzling and the morning was green and wet with low visibility. I started with my rain jacket and took it off once the terrain got steep. We were hiking amidst clouds and then it started unraveling the beauty. I could see jagged peaks above me with fresh greenery around. Actually the clouds was a respite on the steep rocky trail and I just hoped it would clear by the time we reached the peak. I was happy whenever Sun blasted its rays through clouds. We passed Headlee pass after numerous short switchbacks to reach frozen Vesper lake. The blue tint on patches of water made the lake look vibrant. We started for the final summit push after a small break which took us through huge steep boulders. It was fun navigating them and it felt longer than what I expected. We had to cross one tiny section of snow which I crossed without spikes and I wasn’t carrying poles too. The clouds were still hovering and it wasn’t much clear once we were on the peak too. It was on and off and I badly wanted to get a view of colorful Copper lake. I was so happy when I got to see the lake in all its glory. Nestled in a valley with huge mountains around with its distinctive color, it looked fantastic. The white granite on the right with snow patches and the cloud laden tall peaks on the left were adding to the beauty and I was happy being there. Others were quite happy too and I kept hearing hysterical laughs. It was so high from up there that I could see around 2 – 3000 ft drop on the other side and looking down would just fire up my spine. I had lunch on a spot overlooking the lake. The clouds still had majority on most of the surroundings but I think it enhanced the views by making it mystical (as quoted by a fellow hiker). We started descending and it wasn’t that warm. The bugs hardly troubled too. So I had a pleasant descent comparatively. I even ate some blueberries on the trail. The final stretch in the woods with multiple creek crossings was nice too. Usually I would be very happy seeing the parking lot, but today I was like ok, the hike’s ended. It was a surreal experience amidst the mystical clouds where it felt like PNW had stitched together best of multiple worlds. In the morning, I was a bit worried from the Low Tire Air Pressure indicator on my car and the last 3 miles on the gravel road hadn’t helped my thoughts. Fortunately, it wasn’t anything obvious and I drove back to Seattle just fine.

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Hike to Beckler Peak

A friend from Cornell, Prashanth asked me for a hike and I chose Beckler peak, since it was a moderate one and I had a failed summit attempt in the last winter. I had read the trip reports and everything looked good. Three of us, including Karthik whom I had known from Zion trip last year left Seattle by 8. The clouds disappeared instantly after the town, Gold-Bar and it stayed sunny throughout. The forest road to the trailhead had few potholes. We started the hike around 10:15 AM and took 1 hr 40 mins to reach the top. There were bugs (not many to worry about) and at some places, butterflies. The trail all the way to the summit is shaded and it opens to a 360 deg view on the top which makes this a perfect summer hike. The views were spectacular which included snow covered mountains, nearby jagged peaks, green patch of meadows and Glacier Peak in the far. We spent ample of time at the summit and descended quickly. It was nice to catchup on some Cornell memories on the way down. We made a lunch stop at Eagle falls before returning to Seattle where people were cliff jumping and rope swinging.

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