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Hike to Iron Bear peak

My brother in law, Amit has joined us in Seattle for this summer and in an effort to show the beautiful Washington through hiking, I was looking for a relatively easy trail with good views and less crowd for a Sunday. I have been observing that the number of people willing to venture outside has increased recently. With a 2 hour long drive, Iron Bear trail seemed like a good bet. We started early and even though it was cloudy en route, the skies cleared up by the time we reached highway 97.

Google maps put us on a slightly different road (NF-9175) and I realized only after couple of miles that NF-9714 was the right one. But the 9715 gained quite an elevation and had good views along the road and I made a mental note to explore this at a later time. We reached the trailhead and it was already crowded with cars parked on the side of the road. The trail was well maintained, gained gradually and nearly rock free. This allowed bikers (with and without motors) to share the trail and we saw few of them. Wildflowers added to the beauty along the trail at various stretches and as usual Rainier made an appearance after a distance. We reached the peak around noon and it had a decent view of Mt Stuart, Rainier and few other surrounding peaks.

Also there was ample amount of space to host multiple groups and we got a good spot for lunch. We left after an hour and passed many hikers during the descent. I was wrong in expecting less crowd and there were lots of cars by the time we reached the trailhead. Overall, it was a good day out but I don’t think Amit was that impressed. We decided to get him hiking shoes so that he could try challenging terrains on future hikes.

Activity Overview

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Biking the Iron Horse trail

Sai had started a new hobby of biking the trails in Washington. He had a bike rack which could take 2 bikes and I joined him this Sunday to bike a stretch of Iron horse trail. The forecast predicted just the clouds and our original plan was to bike near Snoqualmie pass which included a tunnel. It was raining when we reached there and it didn’t look like it was going to abate anytime soon. We then decided to drive further east to Lake Easton and try the stretches around. The trail now known as Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail stretches from the mountains around I-90 near Seattle to Palouse and is 212 miles long. I was impressed by this fact and was excited to bike since this was the first time ever I had taken my bike outside Seattle.

At Lake Easton state park, we started from the west parking lot in our biking attire. After a mile or so through the trees, we joined the gravel Iron horse trail. Since I had a commuter bike (sort of hybrid), I was not sure if my bike would fare well in the off-road trails. Soon we were welcomed by a sturdy looking bridge which had an amazing view of the lake and mountains around with double railway tracks beneath. We rode ahead and found a tunnel and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety of things we were finding. The trail was mostly gravel and so well maintained that I was comfortably enjoying the ride on my bike. We reached the Easton town after 3.5 miles and decided to retrace the off-road trail instead of going on the roads to complete the loop. On return we stopped by the tunnel and tried some photography.

The trail between the trees, on the bridge and inside the tunnel was fun. Can’t wait to try other trails in the state. This was a short ride of 7 miles but it gave me a taste of biking outside the city and I am already looking forward for the next ride.

Activity Overview

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Hike To Marmot pass and Buckhorn mountain

I am glad I stayed home this Thanksgiving, I could go to this amazing winter hike which was a snow heaven. Olympic peninsula had got a fresh shower of snow the previous evening and the early morning clear skies had got me excited for the day. I had usual expectations for the last hike of the year but what I experienced was so magical that it was one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done. I was mainly worried about the cold since forecast projected -10C on the summit.

I got up at 4.30 AM, met the group at Park and Ride at 6 and started the hike by 9. First stretch of the hike was along a creek in the woods and we hit first patches of snow in around 2 miles at an elevation of 3600 feet. Morning rays were lighting the mossy trees which not only soothed my eyes but warmed the body too. The snow started getting deep but fortunately other hikers ahead of us had broken the trail. I could see surrounding jagged snow covered mountains and the pass which we would be reaching was visible.

The fresh snow on the trees and ground was a treat to watch and feel. Many shiny snow particles looked like crystals and the spread was enchanting.

We reached the pass by 12 PM and headed for the Buckhorn summit. We wore snowshoes since there was no broken trail and snow was pretty deep. I was happy I could lighten my pack and I actually felt good and hiked the next steep part of ascent pretty effortlessly. Snow shoes was one reason but the views, just heavenly. I kept scanning the surroundings frequently and every gained feet allowed me to see more of the snow covered mountains. Soon I could see mountains beyond the immediate range and they looked so majestic that I felt I was hiking in the Himalayan biggies.

My jaw dropped, my breath was taken away, my happy mind somehow warmed my cold toes and I was energized to go higher to see more of the beauty. Mark, the organizer joked that it was my bachelor party and I gladly accepted this as my bachelor party. We could also see Glacier Peak, Mt Rainier and St Helens above the sea of clouds.

We reached the ridge and the view on the other side was good too. The snow layer started to thin, so we removed our snowshoes and aimed for a false summit(elevation 6800ft) with just the boots. With wild excitement I walked to the false summit and gave a loud shout. There was hardly any wind and I could be there for a while even without gloves. I would also credit the near perfect weather due to which we had an enjoyable ascent. Mark decided not to go for the summit in the interest of time which was around 30 mins away. It was a strong and fun group, everyone made it to the false summit. I layered up in my bright blue jacket, took many photos and had my lunch enjoying the near 360 degrees view.

We started the descent on our micro-spikes in a while and it was getting quite cold too. It was a quick descent to the pass where we were greeted by the birds. Now the every lost feet warmed my toes and it felt much better. The snowy forested stretch was a delight and the last mile of walk in the green woods was peaceful and humbling.

What a fantastic hike it was. I have been hiking in the state for 3.5 years now and I still feel like love at first sight many a times. I was recalling my hikes on the way back and realized how much happiness the companionship of mother nature has given me. Today she did everything she could to make the last hike of my single life into a beautiful fairytale.

Activity Overview

Photos and Videos

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Indian food in Greater Seattle area

I usually get asked for recommendations on good restaurants for Indian food. So I am compiling a list of restaurants which I have liked and visit frequently.

  1. Madras Dosa Corner (South Indian)
  2. Chaat house (Street food)
  3. Mayuri Bakery (Street food, check reviews on food quality)
  4. Naan N Curry (Biryani)
  5. Kanishka (North Indian, try the buffet)
  6. Kathakali (South Indian with rich spices)

Let me know if you like anything which is not on the above list.

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Bucket List

Seven Summits

North America

South America

Africa

  • Kilimanjaro summit climb (Preferably full moon)

Europe

  • Iceland
  • Isle of Skye
  • Norway

Asia

 

These look cool but I don’t think I am ready yet :

 

Reach out to me if you too are looking for someone to travel with.

Nikhil Navali

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