Adventure

Hike to Rock mountain

 

A broken side view mirror and itching skin were the result of this week’s adventure but in return I was treated with an amazing slope of wildflowers and 360 deg view from the summit. It had been a while since I hiked with Mark and he usually posts the one with fantastic views. Mark had mentioned that the last stretch of road to trailhead is narrow due to the overgrown bushes and since I already had a big scratch on my car’s door, I didn’t mind few extras. We exited the Highway 2 to a forest road after Steven’s pass towards Snowy creek trailhead. The first couple of miles was fine but the real test started after that. The bushes were so overgrown that we couldn’t pass without the branches brushing both sides of the car.

I made 2 mistakes here – (1) I did not close the side mirrors and (2) Was over-speeding for those conditions. Soon I hit a thick branch and the passenger side mirror bolted towards the window and cracked. I then corrected both my mistakes and continued with the rest of the journey without any major mishaps. There were only 3 cars from our group on the trailhead and we started hiking.

Another mistake I had made was not to wear a full sleeved t shirt. I should have expected some bushwhacking and the summer bugs. A fellow hiker cracked a joke saying that we were breaking the trail in a summer (Usually we break trails in the snow). Soon the bugs started troubling and it was annoying. We reached a meadow from where we could see the ridge-line and treeless mountain slopes. I used the bug spray from there on but I guess it was too late. The bugs had already made their marks on my hands. We came above the tree-line after a steep ascent and things were all pleasant from there on. We could see the surrounding mountains and numerous yellow/purple/red/white flowers on the slope.

Many switchbacks took us to the ridge and after passing on a short section of snow, we reached the summit. The clouds were intermittent and were above us which provided interesting shadows on the surrounding mountains. The view itself was fantastic with Glacier peak, Mt Pugh and many others in the vicinity. We spent good amount of time having lunch and started our descent. We saw couple of other hikers on our way down and that was it. Even though it was quite warm, I wore sweatshirt to save myself from the bugs. We could see the downpour at a distance, the cloud cover got thicker and there was a drizzle when we reached the trailhead. I duct-taped the side mirror glass and the exposed internals. In the morning, I had observed that the side mirror’s protective black cover had fallen en-route and made it a note to pick up on the return. I was less hopeful that we would find it but we ended up picking two car’s side mirror caps of which one was mine. All in all it was a good summer hike with some learnings. My skin itched for few days and I treated it with ice and moisturizer regularly.

Activity Overview

Photos and videos

Tips:

  1. Close the side view mirrors and drive slowly on a narrow road.
  2. Wear full sleeves t shirts and use bug sprays on overgrown trails.
  3. Ice provides a fantastic soothing for itches. 

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

Oregon Coast : Beauty and the Beast

May 10-12th, 2019
Shoreline Drive and ATV ride

The nature has such diversity to itself that it never ceases to enthrall and empower while also being able to pacify and please every patron or a critic likewise. One can get lost in the heavenly beauties of the serene scenes, or get galvanized upon subscribing to audacious adventures! A sane balance of both these facets is what we experienced on our weekend getaway to the wondrous Oregon coast.

This was the roadtrip we were planning since a couple of months with Nikhil’s friend Rahul and his wife Siddhi accompanying us. All of us were pretty excited. We started from Seattle at 10am on that friday and the day’s agenda was to drive through the ‘scenic US highway 101’. Driving south initially through I5, we soon diverted towards 101 near Astoria, where we had lunch at the pier 11 pizza onlooking the columbia river, surrounding mountains and long famous Astoria-Megler bridge. After this delicious lunch and some yummy ice-creams on the way, we continued driving. The curvy roads at an elevation alongside the shoreline with tall lush green mountains on one side, vast and beautiful pacific ocean beholding rocks, houses/resorts, viewpoints on the other — this is one of the best drives I have ever been on! After driving through a long stretch of this scenic highway, we reached the airbnb vacation home booked at the Oregon coast city Waldport, at around 7pm.

The rhythmic roar of Pacific waters, the sea-bed extending so far and wide that the gaze covered entire horizon, the waves crashing against the shore, the gritty sand showcasing waverly patterns — witnessing these comforting and enthralling scenes beyond the glass walls, we stood, in sheer joy! This was the sight from our airbnb vacation home! We could not have asked for anything more in this setup – the first floor hosted a lovely living room, two sides opening up into several large windows almost covering the whole wall, cozy furniture collection, sharing an open kitchen whose counters also offered this beautiful sneak-peek outside, the ground floor having a bedroom opening up into a beautiful deck having barbecue grill and the classic wooden seating, stairs down to a backyard which directly opened up onto the sands! Yes! We fell in love with this lovely vacation home 🙂  The Walk down the backyard offered a breathtaking sunset view – the orange balloon floating on the vast water bed, gradually descending down, leaving a beautiful orange tint which reached all the way to the shore, finally going down after putting up a colorful show on the horizon! The chilled waters were pleasant to see, but put us into playing kabaddi with them! We also played frisbee, had a long jump competition on the sands and so on. A lot of fog and mist gradually encircled the beach at dusk, which added to its beauty while giving us a feel of being on a private beach! The colder surroundings made us head back home. Our bedroom housed huge window on the beach side. Sleeping to the rhythmic buzz of the waves and waking up the next day to see the beach and the sand directly from our bed felt like a bliss 🙂 Never before had I stayed so close to the sea! Full marks to this vacation home on everything!

The kitchen was well-equipped, it had an amazing collection of cutlery too. We relished fluffy and tasty omelettes alongside the crispy garlic bread toast sandwiches filled with yummy aloo stuffing, variety of veggies marinated and baked to awesomeness, also had nicely heated up methi parathas, chana masala and mutter pulao.  We had a charming double date on the shore, with Rahul-Siddhi accompanying us on this trip. Lovely people they are and we all had a very nice time together!

Not just the shoreline drive, also the vacation home contributed to the beauty of this weekend getaway. But what was the ‘beast’ then? Here comes the powerful 900cc two seater ATV which we drove! Going up and down the dunes, doing lateral curved turns and skids, gearing up through the changing arenas of sand — this was an experience one of its kind! The Oregon Sand dunes at Florence was the abode of all these thrilling ventures. Some of the world’s largest and most beautiful dunes are located on the Central Oregon Coast. Glistening valleys, vast hills of shifting sand, the desert atmosphere make these dunes truly a must see!

Full marks to fun and excitement : we started off with an exciting guided 1 hour Sand Rail Tour from the Torex ATV Rentals, which helped us explore what’s in store on the dunes. It was a 6 seater ATV, and the tour guide took us all around showing different terrains, marked up regions, tree islands and water bodies while giving us thrilling and beastful experience of the highs and lows of the shifting sand. He also made us understand key protocols to be followed while riding these dunes on our own : like locating a fellow rider from a decent distance using the tall orange flags attached to their ATV, identifying deep fall patterns of sand and technique to avoid them, wet sand around water bodies and distance to be kept around them, and so on. It indeed was an adventurous tour where we also saw multiple two-seater, single seater bikes, 6 seater-tour ATVs putting up stuntful show while we experienced one awesome ride. After heading back to the ATV rental booth, we signed up for a one hour 4-seater 900cc ride to further explore the dunes on our own. Nikhil having had an experience of driving a similar one before, started off and took us to the dunes. We were by ourselves and even more excited; he tried mimicking few portions from what our guide had taken us on previously. After few minutes of fun on the wheels, he offered Rahul to check-out the ride. Rahul was pretty comfortable and did wonderful on the dunes. We were in for more adventure! There was also a couple of small hiccups: first one when our ATV got stuck in the sand while attempting to go over a steep uphill dune, where we all got out of the ATV, pulled off sand beneath each tyre to make room for movement. It was also heartening to see so many fellow ATV riders stopped by to offer help! As Rahul accelerated, we could see the sand sprinkling out like a water fountain from behind! 😀 Another time, as we drove close to a tree island, all of a sudden the ATV kind-of halted not moving an inch ahead only for us to realize that the gear chain got cut-off! Getting out of the ATV, we could see the leather pieces fallen on the track we followed! We called up the rental guys and they were to our rescue in less than 10 mins to replace the gear while they swapped out ATV with a new one. Our fun continued!  

Me and Siddhi were excited and nervous at the same time, for as much fun it seemed, riding it was scary and dangerous too! Specially because it was our first time! I recollect reading a bill-board of some advertisement on our drive the previous day which read “When was the last time you did something for the first time?!” That was an inspiration! What a coincidence! It would be my very first time on the sand dunes, and of course my first ride on an ATV! There were butterflies in my stomach because of the sheer excitement! 😀 Siddhi was still not so keen to ride it, but I still wanted to. Nikhil offered me to try it out, and I hesitantly got on the wheels. I started off slowly being over cautious, gradually speeding up. I mostly drove on relatively flat dunes to get the hang of it, and eventually started exploring more uneven dunes. My initial feeling of scare also gradually turned into a thrill! I was shouting out of excitement at times and the joy on my face was evident 🙂 Looking at me doing it, Siddhi got excited and she agreed to ride the beast too; we had more fun except for a small portion where we bumped into a sand pit and felt some sudden jerk! Well that is what it is all about, it is not called the “beast” just like that! Everyone was fine and we continued riding more. Very soon it was time to head back. With a bundle of vivid experiences of this 1-hr ride we headed back to the rental location.

ATV ride was the main agenda of this trip and Nikhil and I kept wanting more! We chose to go back to the dunes for another hour! This time on a 2-seater 900cc beast, and I took control right from the rental location. It was roughly a half mile ride before we reached the dunes and navigated through the woods into the dunes; very soon reaching the wide open sand terrain! This time I was feeling more relieved and free – Of Course, it is only your husband with you and you can be as crazy and kiddo as you want! 😉 I started attempting more uneven dunes very early in the ride and drove up a very high dune, suddenly to realize it was a steep fall down! Nothing on the other side would be visible unless you climb up the top. Luckily I had breaks at that very moment, and retrieved the course of my ride! That moment gave me shivers! After this, there were plenty such goosebump moments where I tried riding across a very steep uphill several times, drove on full speed around small ups and downs of sand, drove up a very high dune and stopped to see fantastic views all-around, and so on. After I had satisfying time behind the wheel, Nikhil took over and then we had some real beastful experience! He tried many skids on the sand, several wavy dune areas, a couple of deep fall courses and much more! It was evident on his face that he was absolutely loving it, so was I 🙂 We had one heck of an experience! We switched seats a couple more times and further explored the arena; very soon our time ran out and we headed back. This first-time experience filled my excitement to the brim, and I was happy to have really tried something for a first-time. It sure motivated me to try out more, and I shall soon.

We drove back and had a late lunch at a beautiful river-side Italian restaurant, got back to our lovely vacation home, relaxed for sometime and then spent some nice time together. We played a lot of fun games on a VR playstation, the Nintendo Switch Wi, that was available at the vacation home! Cool isn’t it? We explored Bowling, Tennis, Golf and many more games on it! It was indeed a relaxing night. Next morning we checked out and visited a Tillamook Cheese Factory on the way back – the tour was informative as we walked past every stage of cheese making process while having a look at the live equipments pushing out huge blocks of packed cheese. Best part of this visit was that we could taste variety of cheese pieces for free! Yummy! We also relished the delicious garlic cheese fries on the way back. Rahul drove the entire stretch back and this was the first time Nikhil and I had time together on a drive (Else, he usually drives and we don’t have relaxing time together). We kept talking, playing and enjoying nice views together all-along. We visited ‘Bollywood Theatre’, an Indian restaurant in Portland where we had some delicious Vada-pav, Pav bhaji and a couple other eateries. Our ride continued, we saw the mighty Mt.Hood (which is like the Mt. Rainier of Oregon) and several other beautiful places on the way back.

This trip was rightly a ‘Beauty and Beast’ experience for me with serene shoreline drive, soulful beach and vacation home time, lovely tour buddies, enthralling ATV ride and much more! Truly a worth remembering ‘first-time’ something for me! So, get out and try something for the first time! Be a neophile! It is always more fun and amazing inspiration!

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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.

Activity overview

Photos and Videos

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Categories: Adventure, Outdoors, Seattle | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Activity Overview

Photos and Videos

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Categories: Adventure, Outdoors, Seattle | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

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. It 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.

Activity Overview

Photos and Videos

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

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