Outdoors

Hike to Lake Ingalls

A hike to a ridge on Mt Shuksan was scheduled on this day around 6 months earlier and I was eagerly waiting for it. Due to unavailability of the meetup organizer the hike got cancelled. The forecast for the day was not bad and I definitely didn’t want to sit at home without a hike on this day. So just the day before, I signed up for Lake Ingalls hike and only 3 of us made it to the hike and needless to say, it was fantastic.

It was an early start, we left the Park and Ride by 6AM and started our hike by 8 AM. It was still very cold, so I had my gloves on from the trailhead. The first part of the hike was usual winter microspikes hike with snow dusted mountains around. The actual party started after the ridge where we could see Mt Stuart up close, golden larches and many other peaks around.

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Mt Stuart came in between clouds path and was reshaping the clouds. A venticular like saucer formation was being created. Golden larches, wherever and however they were looked royal and its bright colors on white snow and dark surrounding background was a sight to behold. The larches adorned the trail too and it felt like mother nature had decorated for us to walk beneath them.

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The vista kept getting better and I was thoroughly enjoying the treat. After crossing another small ridge, we reached the lake which didn’t fail to surprise us as well. With the surrounding white snow and granite mountains all around, it looked serene.

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We had lunch from a high ground. It got windy and cold, so I started retreating soon. I met my ex-teammate on the trail which was a nice coincidence. The weather got better when we reached the small ridge which allowed us to enjoy the larches in the warm sunny weather from there on. The larches shone bright and it was fantastic to walk again alongside the larches. There was a tea cup on the saucer by now.

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My fellow hiker was wanting to catch some mountain goats and they too were there, I could see 7 of them in a single frame. Standing on the edge braving the wind with blue sky behind, they looked impressive. The white fir and pointed horns were all in display.

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We were so happy that everything came together so well today: weather, larches, mountains, snow, goats and views. I gladly accepted this as a birthday present from mother nature.

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

Scramble to French Cabin West Peak

An action filled misty day where we experienced rains, snow, hailstorms, wind, Sun and rainbow combined with a scramble. I got up at 5:30 AM and had all the time to get ready but guess what did I forget to carry for the hike, my hiking shoes. I realized this in the park and ride while I met the group and since it was a short 6 mile hike and Michael didn’t mention any scrambling or craziness, I thought I could pull it off without my hiking shoes. I was wearing my daily wear shoes which doesn’t have much grip. It was cloudy and the rains started soon as we started driving to the trailhead. We started the hike in rains and first 1.5 miles was on a normal trail. Few sections was very beautiful with the fog and fall colors. The trail was bit wider than usual and I wondered if people mountain biked here. I was thinking that I would have needed my hiking shoes on any other Michael’s hike, but this was ok. I was soon proved wrong when Derek and Michael decided to start exploring alternative route to summit. For the next mile, it was on steep sections with loose mud/gravel with fog, rains and snow. Some sections were on a narrow ridge and it was like Angel’s landing without chains. The fog made it all the more dramatic. I was very careful with my steps and anticipated slips on tricky sections. Sometimes Sun broke out to give us green views all around which reminded me of Western Ghats. Soon cold wind started picking up and by the time we were at the summit it was snowing and it kept getting colder. My gloves were wet and my fingers were nearing to freeze. I had experienced worse, so I knew I could handle and just waited to start descending after lunch and regroup. It was fun group with lots of jokes and almost everyone made it to the summit. Fortunately, descending was not that bad and my shoes held on while descended using branches whenever I could. I was glad to reach the flat part of the trail safely. That was quite an adventure, thankfully there weren’t big rocks to traverse on. We saw mountain bikers on the way back. We finished the hike relatively faster this time and I was back at Seattle by 6:30 PM.

Activity Overview

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Hike to Yellow Aster Butte

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Yellow Aster Butte was a long pending one and I was waiting for fall colors to do this hike. I met the meetup group at the Park and Ride and started the 2:30 hr drive. Highway 542 was windy and the road near trail head was a bit sketchy. I enjoyed driving my Crosstrek at both the places. It was around 10:15 AM by the time we started our hike. It was cloudy but a pleasant day. The interesting part about the trail was that after half the hike, you can see almost the entire route up-to false summit. Around 2/3 of the hike was above tree line and the surrounding views were beautiful and it only got better. We reached the base of the false summit where I could see numerous campsites facing Mt Shuksan and Baker. I wondered how awesome camping there would be. We had lunch at the false summit and then I hiked to true summit where I could see more awesome mountains and Tomyhoi lake. En route, I could see campsites surrounded with patches of lakes and grey rocks. It felt so nice, that I just sat there until my meetup buddies came back from the summit. There were numerous people with their pets and kids. They were having their sweet little time with nature. I somehow felt this was like mini Enchantments. The place had a near 360 deg view and I felt so good that I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world at that time. I feel so privileged that I could experience such beauty with only hours drive from home. I was chatting with a young forest ranger girl while descending and it was interesting to know about her. I didn’t have much trouble with the neck this time and thoroughly enjoyed the hike.

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Hike to Mt Sparrowhawk

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I was in Calgary on the weekend of 26th August to meet a friend and didn’t want to miss the chance of hiking in the Canadian rockies. I searched online for a challenging – beautiful hike within a 2 hour drive from Calgary and finalized Mt Sparrowhawk in Kananaskis region. I didn’t expect much crowd on the hike and due to the bear season, we planned to carry bear spray. We started from Calgary at 07:30 AM and stopped at Canmore for breakfast. We bought the bear spray from CanadianTire shop at Canmore and left for the trailhead. I was unaware that last 25kms of the drive was unpaved but it was not so bad that a front wheel drive couldn’t make. We reached the trailhead where I did my first major blunder of the day. I had never used a bear spray before and wanted to test it. I moved away from the car and sprayed but the wind took the chemicals to my friend which caused her eyes and face to burn. I was really scared that it would be something worse than burning. We waited for her to get better and eventually she did, at-least thats what she told. We started the hike at 10:45 AM.

The first part of the hike for 1 km was quite easy with wide trail and gradual ascent. From then on, it was quite steep all the way till the summit. I had loaded the route on my watch and kept checking every now and then. We started to see part of Spray lakes which looked magnificent. Eventually we were above the tree line and we were in a position to see almost entire Spray Lake. The turquoise lake surrounded by mountains and green trees provided for an excellent panoramic view and I realized why everyone had rated this hike so high. We could see the summit of Mt Sparrowhawk in distance and I wondered if we could make it well before evening. We saw few hikers on Reed’s tower which looked impressive as well. An helicopter was making rounds throughout the day. The next part of the hike was a light scramble and then the last part was on the loose rocks. I realized that we won’t be able to make it to the true summit given the time and just aimed to get as high as possible. There were few people on the trail and most of then were returning by the time we neared the summit. A hiker told me that we could get to a point below the summit section from where we could see the other side. My friend chose to wait while I went to the pass where I could see the mountains and lake on the other side. I had gained 4000 ft in 3.3 miles to reach an elevation of 9826 ft. There was snow and it was quite windy with a weather station on the pass. I then hurried down to meet my friend and we sat for lunch on a green flat patch overlooking Spray lake, Reed’s tower and surrounding mountains.

We then started with our hike back to the trailhead. We spent quite some time getting down the scrambling section. We were facing the lake for the next part of the hike and it was lovely scenery on both ends of the lake. I was actually more scared of the last part of the hike due to bears since it was covered in trees and it would be difficult to spot one. I kept making noise and my friend clapped and fortunately we didn’t spot any bear for the day. It was around 7 PM by the time we reached the trailhead which marked the end of an awesome hike. While returning to Seattle next day, I spotted the same Spray lake from the flight.

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Scramble to Little Si

I joined meetup people on a scramble to Little Si to watch fireworks from the summit. We started the hike at 6:30 PM and reached the scramble spot. Most of us forked and started with the scramble route. It was nice beginner scramble with not so much exposure. We secured a spot below the summit and waited for fireworks while all of us set up a potluck-buffet. I carried just the dates but few had got a lot of stuff. Fireworks was organized by city of North Bend as part of festival at Mt Si. It started at 9:50 PM and I was surprised that it went on for 30 mins. The most unique experience was listening to the echoes shooting off the surrounding mountains. Then we chose to scramble down and it was more exciting because it was dark. It felt very rugged to see the sights of scramblers on the small cliffs with their headlights on. It was a nice short evening outing.

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

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