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. I took a nap where I dreamt too. After a decent 50 min break we started the descent. A fellow hiker had a nice sense of humor and it was fun listening to his jokes. 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

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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. 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

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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.

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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.


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.

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Categories: Adventure, Canada, Outdoors, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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