Author Archives: Nikhil Navali

About Nikhil Navali

I’m Nikhil Navali, pursuing my masters in Computer Science at Cornell University. I love to be outdoors enjoying the fresh air and indulge in various physical activities. That said, I dont shy to sit days together with just my laptop and internet. I am basically a “Neophiliac” who wants to try many things in the world ranging from testing my taste buds to trying out adventurous activities. My favorite passtime includes reading books, watching historical documentaries on youtube and updating my bucket list which is always fresh and full.

Hike to Hurricane Hill

I have been visiting National Parks in Washington back to back since mom got here. I have always loved visiting Olympic National Park especially because of the ferry ride to get to the peninsula. I usually take Edmonds-Kingston ferry in the morning (for the view of Olympic mountains) and Bainbridge-Seattle on the return(for Seattle skyline view). We did the same in the weekend and drove up-to Hurricane Ridge. With the green meadows, snow capped mountains in the vista and clear views I found the surroundings much more crisp and beautiful compared to my last visit 6 months back. I had looked for a hike nearby and we drove to the trailhead. The views start right from the parking lot and stays on almost till the top of Hurricane hill. I could see many colorful wildflowers, vast patches of grass, valleys and mountains in the far. It was an easy hike and mom was able to manage quite well. It was cloudy at places but added a nice touch to the surroundings. Once on the hill, we could see the waters, San Juan islands and maybe a bit of Canada too. There was a couple with a baby who was so cheerful which was nice to see. I totally loved this hike and I would liken this to Rattlesnake since it’s easy with beautiful views. We had lunch on the nearby picnic tables and returned to Seattle.

Activity Overview

Photos and Videos here

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

Mom’s skydiving experience in her own words (Kannada)

ಆಕಾಶದಲ್ಲಿ ಹಕ್ಕಿ ಹಾರುವದನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸಿದಾಗ ನಮಗೂ ಬಾನಂಗಳದಲ್ಲಿ ಹಕ್ಕಿಯಂತೆ ಹಾರಲು ಮನಸಾಗದೆ ಇರಲಿಕ್ಕೆ ಸಾಧ್ಯವಿಲ್ಲ. ಸ್ವಚ್ಛಂದವಾಗಿ ಹಾರುವ ಕನಸು ಸದಾ ಇದ್ದೆ ಇತ್ತು. ಇಂದಿನ ಯುಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾನವ ಹಕ್ಕಿಯಂತೆ ಹಾರಲು, ಮೀನಿನಂತೆ ಈಜಿ ಮುಳುಗಲು, ಮುಂತಾದವುಗಳನ್ನು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗಿಸಿದ್ದಾನೆ.
ಅಂತೆಯೇ ನನ್ನ ಕನಸು ನನಸಾಗಲು ನನ್ನ ಮಗನ ಮೊದಲ ಹಾರಾಟದ ವಿಡಿಯೋ ನನ್ನಲಿದ್ದ ಆಸೆಗೆ ಪ್ರೇರಣೆ ನೀಡಿತು. ಇದು ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾದದ್ದು ನಾನು USAಗೆ ನನ್ನ ಚಿಕ್ಕ ಮಗನ ಜೊತೆ ಬಂದು ಮೊದಲನೇ ಮಗನ ಜೊತೆ ಇರುವ ಅವಕಾಶ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿದಾಗ. ನಿಖಿಲ್ ಗೆ ನನ್ನ ಈ ಆಸೆ ಗೊತ್ತಿತು. ಆದ್ದರಿಂದ ಸ್ಕೈ ಡೈವಿಂಗ್ ಗೆ ಜೂನ್ ೨ ೨೦೧೮ ರಂದು ಯೋಜನೆ ಮಡಿದ. ಅಂದು ಹವಾಮಾನವು ಅನುಕೂಲವಾಗಿತ್ತು.
ಬೇಕಾದ ತಯಾರಿಯೊಂದಿಗೆ ಮಧ್ಯಾಹ್ನ ೧ ಗಂಟೆಗೆ ಮನೆಯಿಂದ ಹೊರಟು ನಾವು ೨ ಗಂಟೆ ಸುಮಾರು Snohomish Skydiving ಜಾಗಕ್ಕೆ ತಲುಪಿದೆವು. ಅರ್ಜಿಯನ್ನು ತುಂಬಿದ ನಂತರ ನಮ್ಮ ಸಮಯಕ್ಕಾಗಿ ಕಾದು ಕುಳಿತೆವು. ಅಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ಬೇರೆಯವರು ಜಿಗಿಯುವ ವಿಡಿಯೋ ನೋಡಿದೆವು. ಈಗಾಗಲೇ ಹೋದವರ ಅನುಭವ ಕಂಡೆವು. ತರಬೇತಿದಾರರು ಹಾರಾಟದ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕೆಲವು ಮಾಹಿತಿಗಳನ್ನು ಹೇಳಿ ಕೊಟ್ಟದನಂತರ ಹಾರಾಟದ ಉಡುಪನ್ನು ತೊಡಲು ಕರೆದರು. ನನ್ನ ಜೊತೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವ ತರಬೇತಿ ಹಾರಾಟಗಾರನ ಹೆಸರು ಟೋನಿ. ಅವನು ನನಗೆ ಹಾರಾಟದ ಉಡುಪು ಹಾಕಿಕೊಳ್ಳುವಲ್ಲಿ ಸಹಕರಿಸಿದ ವಿಶೇಷವಾಗಿ ಬೆಲ್ಟ್ ನನಗೆ ದೊಡ್ಡದಾಗಿತ್ತು. ನಾನೆಲ್ಲಿ ಜಾರಿ ಬೀಳುವೆನೋ ಅಂತ ಅನಿಸಿತ್ತು. ಮತ್ತೊಮ್ಮೆ ಹಾರಾಟದ ನಿಯಮವನ್ನು ಸರಿಯಾಗಿ ವೀವರಿಸಿದನು. ನನಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತಿತ್ತು, ಇಷ್ಟೆಲ್ಲಾ ಕೇಳಿದಮೇಲು ವೀಮಾನದಿಂದ ಜಿಗಿಯುವ ಕ್ಷಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಮರೆಯುವ ಅನುಮಾನ ನನಗಿತ್ತು. ಆ ಉಡುಪಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನೊಬ್ಬಳು ವೃತ್ತಿಪರ ಜಿಗಿತಗಾರಳು ತರಹ ಕಾಣಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ತುಂಬಾ ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ ಅನಿಸಿತ್ತು.
ನಾವು ವೀಮಾನದಟ್ಟ ನಡೆದೆವು, ಆ ವೀಮಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ೫ ಜಿಗಿತಗಾರರು ಮತ್ತೆ ಅವರ ಜೊತೆ ೫ ತರಬೇತಿದಾರರು ಇದ್ದರು. ನಮ್ಮೊಂದಿಗೆ ಇನ್ನು ಮುವರು ಸ್ವತಃ ತಾವೇ ಜಿಗಿಯುವ ಪರಿಣೀತಿ ಪಡೆದವರೂ ಇದ್ದರು. ನಾವು ಜಿಗಿಯ ಬೇಕಾದ ಎತ್ತರ ಹತ್ತು ಸಾವಿರ ಅಡಿಯನ್ನು ೧೦ ನಿಮಿಷದಲ್ಲಿ ತಲುಪಿದೆವು. ಈಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ಟೋನಿ ನನಗೆ ಕೆಲ ವಿಷಯಗಳ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಕೇಳುತಿದ್ದ ಆದರೆ ಭಾಷೆಯ ಅಂತರದಿಂದ ನನಗೆ ಉತ್ತರಿಸಲು ಕಷ್ಟವಾಗುತಿತ್ತು. ವೀಮಾನದ ಕಿಟಕಿಇಂದ ಸುತ್ತದ ಹಿಮಚ್ಚಾದಿತ ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಸಾಲನ್ನು ನೋಡಿದೆ. ಅಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ಹಸಿರು ದೀಪ ಬೆಳಗಿತು, ಜಿಗಿಯಲು ತಾಯಾರಿ ನಡಿಸಿದೆವು. ಬಾಗಿಲು ತೆರೆದ ಕೂಡಲೇ ತಣ್ಣನೆ ಗಾಳಿ ರಭಸವಾಗಿ ಒಳನುಗ್ಗಿತು. ಹಾರುವವರ ಸಾಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನು ಮೂರನೆಯವಳಾಗಿದ್ದೆ.
ಮೊದಲೆರಡು ಚೀನಾದ ಹಾರಾಟಗಾರತಿಯರ ನಂತರ ನಾವು ಬಾಗಿಲದತ್ತ ಹೋದೆವು. ಕ್ಷಣಾರ್ಧದಲ್ಲೇ ಏನಂಥ ಯೋಚಿಸುವಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ಜಿಗಿತವು ನಡೆದೇ ಹೊಯೀತು. ಏನ್ ಅದ್ಭುತ, ತಣ್ಣನೆ ಗಾಳಿ ಮುಖಕ್ಕೆ ರಾಚುತಿತ್ತು. ಹಾರಿದ ರಭಸಕ್ಕೆ ಏನೂ ನೆನಪಿಲ್ಲ. ಹಾರಾಟಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುಕೂಲವಾಗಲು ಕಯ್ಯಿ ಮತ್ತು ಕಾಲುಗಳನ್ನು ಶಲಭಾಸನದ ಸ್ಥಿಥಿಯಲ್ಲಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಳ್ಳಲು ಸೂಚಿಸಿದ. ಏನೊ ಸಾಧಿಸಿದ ಖುಷಿ ಮುಖದಲ್ಲಿ ನಗುವಿನೊಂದಿಗೆ ವ್ಯಕ್ತವಾಗಿತ್ತು, ಹೆದರಿಕೆ ಮಾಯವಾಗಿತ್ತು.

ಟೋನಿ ಕಯ್ಗೆ ಕಟ್ಟಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದ ಕ್ಯಾಮೆರಾ ಕಡೆ ನೋಡಲು ಸೂಚಿಸಿದ, ನಾನು ವಿಜಯದ ಸಂಕೇತವಾಗಿ ಹೆಬ್ಬೆರಳನ್ನು ಮೇಲೆತ್ತಿದೆ. ಕೆಳಗಿನ ಹಾಗು ಸುತ್ತಲಿನ ಸುಂದರ ನಿಸರ್ಗವನ್ನು ಸವಿಯುತ್ತ ಮೂವತ್ತು ಸೆಕೆಂಡ್ ಫ್ರೀ ಫಾಲ್ ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಕಳೆದದ್ದೇ ಗೊತ್ತಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ ನೇರವಾಗಿ ಸ್ಥಿಥಿಯನ್ನು ಪಡೆದು, ಪ್ಯಾರಾಚೂಟ್ ತೆರೆದುಕೊಂಡಾಗ ಟೋನಿ ನನ್ನ ಕಯ್ಗೆ ಅದನ್ನು ನಿಯಂತ್ರಿಸಲು ಕೊಟ್ಟ. ಈ ಕ್ಷಣದಿಂದ ನಾವು ಭೂಮಿಯ ಕಡೆಗೆ ನಿಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಕೆಳಗೆ ಇಳಿಯ ತೊಡಗಿದೆವು.
ಲೆಂಡಿಂಗ್ ಸಮಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮೊದಲೇ ಸೂಚಿಸಿದಂತೆ ನನ್ನ ಎರಡು ಕಾಲುಗಳನ್ನು ನೇರವಾಗಿ ಮುಂದೆ ಚಾಚಿದೆ. ಟೋನಿ ಲೆಂಡಿಂಗ್ ಕ್ರಿಯೆಯನ್ನು ಸುಲಭವಾಗಿ ಹಾಗು ಸುರಕ್ಷಿತವಾಗಿ ಮಾಡಿದ. ಲಾಂಡ್ ಆದ ನಂತರ ಅವನಿಗೆ ಧನ್ಯವಾದ ತಿಳಿಸಿದ ನಾನು ನಿಖಿಲನ ಕಡೆಗೆ ಹೋದೆ. ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಅವನು ಒಂದೆರಡು ಫೋಟೋ ತೆಗೆದ. ಹಾರಾಟದ ಪ್ರಮಾಣ ಪತ್ರ ಪಡೆದ ನಾನು ಒಂದು ಅದ್ಭುತವನ್ನು ಸಾಧಿಸಿದ ಖುಷಿಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದೆ. ಇದೆಲ್ಲ ಸಾಧ್ಯವಾಗಿದ್ದು ನಿಖಿಲನಿಂದಾಗಿ ಅವನಿಗೂ ಧನ್ಯವಾದ ತಿಳಿಸಿದೆ. ಅಲ್ಲಿಂದ ನಗು ಮುಖದಿಂದ ಮನೆಯ ಕಡೆ ಹೊರಟೆವು.

Categories: Adventure, Outdoors, Seattle | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Big Chiwaukum summit attempt

To prepare myself for the upcoming Mt Baker climb and for a sense of adventure, I signed up for Michael’s Big Chiwaukum hike. It was a long hike, so we left Seattle at 5 AM and started our hike at 7:30 AM. We followed the WhitePine creek trail for first two miles and things got interesting from there on. We were supposed to be on Wildhorse creek trail but we we got away from the trail sometimes un-wantingly and sometimes to find shortcuts.  We were using maps and GPS for navigation. It was a slight and unpleasant bushwhacking where we all did our best to stay away from Devil’s club. There were multiple stream crossings and it was fun to balance on the logs. Even though we joined the trail after some distance, we steered away towards east to avoid the long trail in an attempt to reach the ridge. I had forgotten my cap but the weather was kind enough to cover the sky in thin clouds with a hint of Sun for the warmth. The snow here was soft and wasn’t difficult to break in. Soon we reached another ridge which connected to the main Chiwaukum ridge. We could see the mighty and stunning three peaks of Chiwaukum. It looked much further in distance, hard to reach and time was running out. The clouds were above, it was warm enough to be only in a layer or two and not windy. From this point we had around 270 deg panoramic views and the snow covered peaks all around looked beautiful. It was funny when Kaka said ‘Now I know why I came to this hike’ and I resonated. Things got even more interesting from here on. We saw baby avalanches in the north side. Michael aimed for at-least the saddle beside the peaks and so he kept his pace and moved on. It was a difficult scramble on this ridge with loose rocks, snow and enough exposure to get injured. We helped each other to move ahead safely and it took a lot of time. I wasn’t scared for my life but very much for injuries. I moved very slowly assessing every step because there was almost no margin for error. This was one of the scariest things I have done. Views kept getting better since we moved higher. Michael had taken snow path below this ridge later on but the person who was following him missed it and we followed that guy instead to a dead end. We waited until Michael returned and since it was the turn around time (3 PM), we started our descent. I was glad to know that we weren’t taking the scramble route back but was wary of the steep descent on snow below the ridge. Fortunately, this route didn’t provide much surprises and we had fun glissading multiple times. Michael had a short glissading class too and I practiced arresting while glissading head first. My feet were wet since snow got through but I wasn’t feeling cold since the weather was just perfect. We made a speedy descent and reached the trailhead around 7 PM. I was glad to be safely back.

Photos and videos

Activity Overview

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Categories: Adventure, Outdoors, Seattle | 1 Comment

Weekend in Whiteout Whistler

A month earlier, I had gone skiing near Seattle for the first time this season to get in shape for the trip to Whistler. On that beautiful clear day, I came down on a blue line few times and it had been the most successful ski day yet for me. As expected, it had prepared me well for the upcoming ski in Whistler where I had to ski beside cliffs in whiteout conditions.

My friend from Minnesota, Chaitanya wanted to ski near Seattle and we had decided to visit Whistler, Canada on a weekend of his convenience. The forecast for the weekend was pretty bad and I hadn’t booked anything other than the stay. We went ahead with the plans and left Seattle on friday afternoon. Chaitanya was getting excited looking at the colorful spring, so I decided to show him the Tulip garden at the Tulip festival in Mt Vernon. It was a huge field and was nice to see the rows of colorful flowers.

We then waited for around 25 mins at the border to enter Canada and made our next stop at Apna chat house in Surrey. I had heard that Surrey had one of the best chats in North America and I had selected the place for batting. My lunch included 12 pani-puris(the best I have had outside India), 2 vada pavs, 1 alu tikki(amazing well) and pieces of Paneer chilli. Chats being my favorite dishes, I thoroughly enjoyed it and decided for a second round while returning. We then drove through greater Vancouver to get on Highway 99 which lined the eastern coast of Howe Sound. It was a beautiful drive on the winding roads overlooking the expanse of waters and mountains rising from it. The forecast for the next two days was rainy, so I had made sure that we reach Whistler that evening to leave us with ample daylight.

We parked the car and decided to explore the town first. I loved the feel of the town. The architecture, huge snow covered mountains, creeks, bridges, lights, the moon and the laid-back attitude came together in a beautiful symphony to make the experience magical. We retired for the night and were excited for the skiing.

Skiing

The next morning, we were ready with rented gear by 10 AM to take the lift to the Blackcomb mountain. Since we were late in the season, half of the mountain was closed and only one lift took us to the upper half of the mountain. The higher we went, the worse the visibility got. We did a warm up run by taking a green line and reached at the base of another lift which took us to Hortsmans’s hut, the highest point of the day. We were above the clouds and the view was quite good. We couldn’t see anything much other than the parts of the mountain. We started to descend and this is where the ordeal started. Soon the visibility got so low that we could only see few feet in distance. Since both were kind of amateurs, we had difficulty in navigating and assessing the slopes. We were scared especially due to the exposed sections the runs had. I might have hiked only once or twice in such conditions and I was a bit uncomfortable since skiing was not my forte. I fell few times but tried my best to stand and figure the way down. I kept looking at the markings on either side of the runs and ensured that I didn’t ski past them. I lead my friend for most of the route and waited for him whenever I got ahead enough that I couldn’t see him. With the help of flag markers and other skiiers path, we managed to come out in clear and then took a blue line down to the same ski lift. I checked the map and I realized that this was in a loop due to the closures. There was no way out from here, so we had to go back to Hortsman’s hut again and come down a different route. The visibility got even worse by now and the route which we had to take had even more exposed section. A fellow skier lead us for two narrow turns and then we were left again by ourselves in whiteout conditions.

Even though it was a blue line, I got quite adept in the conditions and started skiing fearlessly. I used to look at a marker, go way from it and find the marker on the other side and then repeat the exercise while skiing the slopes. I couldn’t even assess the immediate slope and sometimes mind tricked to assume the angle. I realized that the conditions and the urge to get out safely was actually helping me learn to ski efficiently. So I started enjoying the experience since it brought a sense adventure along with the sport. Finally after traversing few narrow sections and skiing for sometime we came into opening and took a blue line called Zig-Zag all the way to download gondola. Chaitanya decided to call it a day but I took the lift up for another run and throughly enjoyed coming down the Zig-Zag line. While coming down the gondola, a lady who frequented the mountain told that this was the worst weather she had skied in on the mountain and the first time that she had to ski with the help of markers. I was ok since I had enjoyed the experience but I couldn’t exactly experience the hugeness of the ski trails and the views. Nonetheless, it was quite an adventure. We didn’t do anything much for the day other than the visit to nearby Alexander falls and a bungee jumping bridge.

It was raining quite heavily the next morning and we left the town without doing much. The drive back was much more beautiful due to the hovering clouds and the richer greenery. We made a stop at Shannon falls and I loved the views of both the falls we visited. We then drove through Vancouver downtown and reached Apna chat house. I had Pani-puri, Chole kulche and tikki chat this time. The wait at the border was quite longer this time and we made it to Seattle by 6:30 PM. I think I will be visiting Whistler often as long as I am in PNW.

Photos and Videos

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Categories: Adventure, Canada, Outdoors, Travel | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Hike to Mt Storm King and Marymere Falls

Another long time bucket list hike. I was waiting for snow to be cleared and finally found a clear Sunday with the help of flowx app which my colleague recently introduced. 4 of us agreed to make the hike and I was quite excited especially since I had heard about the usage of ropes for the steep sections of the hike. We took the Edmonds-Kingston ferry and enjoyed the snow covered Olympic mountains in the morning light. We then drove to the trailhead which is at Mt Storm King ranger station near Lake Crescent. It’s a short but steep trail and the views start appearing halfway through. We saw the board ‘End of maintained trail’ and we got ready with our gloves to make the final push to the summit. There were totally 4 rope sections which helped us hike on the narrow exposed trail. It was fun using the rope and I was enjoying my time. We reached the summit which was exposed too and waited for our turn to go to the edges which provided unobstructed view of most of Lake Crescent. Amidst the mountains with different shades of blue on the banks, the lake looked stunning. We spent time clicking pictures and got back to a viewing spot to have our lunch. The trail was much more exposed and dangerous than I had expected. We then went to Marymere falls passing multiple bridges on creeks and it was beautiful too. The moss on the surrounding trees were a treat to watch. Since we would finish the hike quite early, I asked a fellow hiker about stuff do around and was recommended a visit to Devil’s punch basin. So we took the Ira Spring trail to reach that spot which was basically a deep basin for cliff jumping and swimming. We had to take the ferry back and I wanted it to overlap on sunset time, so we left for Bainbridge island. Fortunately, we got the Sunset ferry and I got an opportunity to watch the orange sun setting over the Olympic Mountains. It was a day of variety.

Activity Overview

Photos and Videos

 

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

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