Seattle

Hike to Carne Mountain – Gold Rush

Almost all the hikes I have been having since last 2 months have been fantastic and the fall season has only bettered it. The hike to Carne mountain was the latest and I was just dumbfounded with the beauty. It’s been three years of hiking in PNW – I am surprised and feel blessed that I still have lot more to see and experience. Even though I was way below in the waiting list, I was confirmed by the organizer for the meetup hike and I got to hike with an amazing group in a beautiful place. The weather forecast couldn’t have been better too.

Since there were huge warnings for the bad road in the last stretch, I preferred not to drive my car. I ended up in a fellow hiker’s Toyota FJ cruiser with super duty tires. The last stretch was the worst road I have travelled yet in Washington and the FJ did just fine cruising through it. We could see surrounding jagged peaks from the trailhead itself and the place already looked quite different from the usual hikes I did. It was quite cold (around 3 C)  and we started hiking at 9:30 AM. The first 2.5 miles was in the shade, then we saw dusts of snow on the trail after which it was almost an exposed hike. We reached a basin where we saw many larches and few had camped there. Party started from that place and the next few hours just awed me continuously. The first section was through a series of yellow-golden colored larches with snow on the trail. I was wondering if I struck gold.

 

We reached a ridge and I could see muddy mountains with more larches on the other side. As I walked along the ridge, I was exposed to more of the beauty with a combination of snow covered, muddy, tree laden mountains all around. The Carne summit itself looked like it was amidst many valleys with an awesome vantage point to view the surrounding mountains including Glacier peak. The most interesting part was that the trail provided very contrasting views from different angles.

Looking towards West (reminded me of high altitude peaks in Himalayas):

Towards East, more larches:

Towards South East, typical PNW summer views:

We had lunch on the summit and a bday woman shared chocolate brownies, another person shared watermelon and Ferrero Rocher with everyone. It was nice to be part of the group with similar interests. The weather was just perfect too – with occasional clouds blocking the Sun and almost non-existent wind. It was actually warmer on the summit than on the trailhead. It was around 1:30 PM when we started descending and afternoon warmth felt like a summer hike. I was actually impressed with the group’s strength. It was fast paced – we ascended and descended quite quickly which left us ample of time to drive back and have dinner on the way.

PNW still surprises me and the best part is that she surprises me even on the same place in different seasons. I absolutely love this place and I don’t think I would want to live anywhere else in the world during this part of my life.

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Skyline Divide trail fall color hike

The reviews online about this hike made me not mind the early 4:45 AM wake time and the 3 hours drive to the trailhead. Even though the weather forecast was not promising, we had a fantastic time under the clouds and this was my best fall color hike yet. 7 of us started from the meetup point at Lake Stevens and after a quick stop at Wake n Bakery, we reached the 12 mile forest road to trailhead. Though it was a long drive and the final 12 miles was pothole ridden, I chose to drive my car since it’s battery had almost discharged due to the low usage in the previous month. We started the hike around 9:30 AM and reached the ridge-line in 1.5 hours. The forest trail suddenly opened up-to vistas with Mt Shuksan and numerous other mountains. We were well below the cloud cover, so we could surrounding mountains. Soon we saw variety of color patches on the mountains and the stark difference between green trees, snow capped mountains and these colors were fantastic to see. We kept walking along the ridge and the view at every turn made my jaw drop and I kept enjoying every single sight. I was like this trail should be named Skyline Divine instead. I made a note of some amazing campsites. There was slight rain in between but it disappeared soon and didn’t dampen us much. Mt Baker was covered in snow but we could still see glaciers and crevasses. Puget sound also showed up along with few islands. We had lunch at a peak which was cold and windy. My fingers had started paining and I gave it enough protection and started descending quickly. Same views still awed me and I descended taking the views in. The yellow and red patches on the mountain were just too beautiful. The final stretch in the forest was quite quick and I was on the trailhead by 2:40 PM. I took a short nap before others were done and I guess that and conversation with a fellow hiker kept me awake during the drive back. It was a nice group to hike with and a fantastic day out.

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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.

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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.

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

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