Winchester Peak Lookout & Twin Lakes

Taking off on an impromptu back country adventure was in store for one last hurrah before we all moved to different parts of the world. Packing the van with our gear and headed out towards Mount Baker Wilderness, we started the beginning of goodbyes.

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Backcountry camping at it finest! By the time our group got to the trailhead, the sun had set and the stars were out in all force. The plan was to hike up the trail by headlamp to spend a night in the lookout. It did not pan out in the end, and decided to set up camp and get up early in the morning to chase the sunrise on the way up. With a sleeping pad and a bag, I fell asleep under the stars watching shooting stars across the sky.

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Getting up early for another sunrise with hot chocolate made getting up the trail better. At the Twin Lakes Peak, I watched as the golden rays slid up the slopes of the mountains for another day of hiking.IMG_3697

IMG_3710There is a quote about nature reminding us all how small we are, and nature keeps moving forward greeting the day with beautiful rays of joy. Sunrises from mountaintops remind my of nature is more beautiful then we give credit. With the small haze of wildfires, even the sun still comes up in clear golden rays.

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Mount Baker throughout the hike up loomed in the distance reminding me this would be the last sunrise in the alpine for some time.  It also looked cold and deselet compare to Mount Rainier.IMG_3694

After eating some instant oatmeal bars, we headed up the trail towards the lookout.

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One part of the trail we had to slide down a snowfield in order to cross. My butt got so wet by the time I reached the bottom, it looked as if I peed on myself and I think my tailbone got bruised in the process after hitting a small chunk of ice sticking up. Also, we had to stop for a snowball fight as well to get each other one last time before we all headed off around the world.DSCN4406IMG_3743

Just hiking up, you could see how much beauty there is in the alpine. The rugged peaks in the distance marked where the United States and Canadian border is. That is how close I was to Canada. At one point I did ask the Canadian if they wanted to make a run for the border. The answer was no. IMG_3843

For some reason I ended up being the first one to the submit where the lookout was. On my way up the trail, I saw a group of hikers coming back down the trail and realized they were the ones who spend a night in the lookout. I am normally the last one to the top of may hike, so beading a whole bunch of people made it extra special.

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Of course inside the lookout was very warm, and could see from the log book countless people had been up here in the past few months. As a funny joke, we all signed the visitor book as the Marmots of 2018. A class about a year ago did the same thing when they visited, and we found it in the log book!

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The sign below reminds all who venture up here that you cannot be unhappy and still be here. You have to be happy!

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On the way back down we all decided to go another route back to the campsite. It ended up having to hike climb across a snowfield. The whole time I was thinking “dear God, what the heck did I get myself into?” It is harder then you may think to cross an icy sheet of snow and climb up it with bare hands! At one point we all were sliding back down the slope towards the sharp rocks in the talus field below! I even had some one’s butt in my face, and it was enough motivation to get the heck up the icy slope. Finally, we all managed to get to the top with fingers painfully stinging and white. No frost bite for any of us, but came close!

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Once down at the trailhead, we made a dash for the lake! There is no picture of me jumping into the cold alpine lake waters to wash off the grime of the trail, but it was divine experience worth it. After having the sun dry us all off, we packed up the campsite and headed for civilization with a stop at the Taco Bell for lunch.

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This picture sums up hiking in the backcountry. Around every corner is something unexpected and once you have completed one hike, you go back for more. I can see this type of hiking continuing for years to come. Once bit, you cannot go back!

Information:
Winchester Lookout

Twin Lakes Trail

Terracotta Warriors In Seattle

Terracotta Warriors were in town for a limited engagement in two cities in the US. Seattle was lucky to have the traveling exhibition come to Seattle before heading back to China. While Nana was in town for our birthdays we went to see the exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. We happen to go on the same day of the Seattle University graduation at Key Arena and some festival at the Seattle Center park. Just think in another year this will be me walking around in my black cap and gown from Northwest University.

….back to the Terracotta Warriors…..

We got our timed tickets for the first group of the day so there was not a whole lot of people in the exhibit. The whole exhibits were in the making of these terracotta statues, the science behind preserving them, how the site was found, and the history of the Qin (Chin) Dynasty, the first emperor of China. The special thing about this exhibit is the fact you can get up close to the artifacts were at the excavation site in China you cannot.

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Nana and I posing in front of the statues

 


The surprising thing I learned in this exhibit is the first man-made pigment was founded during this time called Huns Purple which is barium copper silicate. This pigment is stable enough to conduct electricity and is made of this compound it is found in many electronics such as a smartphone. A science nerd moment right there! This compound was found on terracotta warriors and pottery of the time period.

List of paint pigments used to paint the warriors

 

 


After the tour of the Terracotta Warriors, we headed over to McMenamin’s in lower Queen Anne for some lunch. The place was hopping since families of graduates from the university graduation where there the celebrate. The food was done pub style and the theme of the restaurant was done like an old pub in 60s England.

The rest of the day was spent walking around the Seattle Center area and going to the Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront.

More Information:
Pacific Science Center Exhibits

Sweaty Hike Through Saint Edwards State Park

Seminary Building

Boy was it hot on the day I decided to go take an urban hike through Saint Edwards State Park! This solo adventure started off with me asking myself is this worth getting sweaty? Yes!

I started out towards the beach (Lake Washington) for a glimpse of the lake from a different angle. I started off on the Perimeter trail, but somehow found myself on the Seminary trail which lead to the beach. The beach was peaceful with the water lapping at the shore, and a few people where swimming in the lake as Kenmore Air float planes came flying overhead.

Peek of Lake Washington

After taking in the view of the lake I headed towards the Orchard Loop. The trail that connects to Orchard Loop trail ended up being the part of the hike that felt like it was going to kill me! South Canyon trail ended up being one of those challenging trails because I had to hike it all uphill!! Here I was huffing, puffing, and sweating all the way to the connection for the loop trail. I now know for future hikes to go down this trail instead of up it. Once on the Orchard Loop trail, it was all easy, and I regained my breath. Unfortunately the “orchard” was nowhere to be found, or I miss something along the trail.  I must have because there was not an orchard to be found as I made the whole loop again. Very disappointed after huffing and puffing my way to it.

After finding my way back to where the seminary buildings are, I decided to find the famous Grotto seen in wedding pictures. Ha! I ended up reading the map wrong! I thought the Grotto trail lead to the Grotto, but nope. Apparently it by passes it from the bottom of the hill instead (palm to face). I hiked all the way back down to the lake, and then had to take Seminary trail back up!

Stone Steps On Trail

Eventually I found a map with the “you are here” circle to finally be steered in the correct direction for the Grotto. Dear reader, I made it harder than it should have been. The Perimeter trail going towards the playground in a corner of the field is where the entrance to the trail leading to the Grotto starts.

Behind Look of The Grotto

Once there I really found it peaceful and secluded. A little slice of magic in the middle of the woods. I joked on Instagram I had found the place where I was getting married….when the time comes….when I find someone first…..ok then.

Selfie with The Grotto

The structure is a small stone altar with stone steps and a path leading up to it. Stone walls border around the area to make it look like small outdoor church/sanctuary. A very beautiful spot for a small intimate wedding.

The Grotto
Leading Up To The Grotto

After hiking lost all around the area, I decided it was time to head back home and get out of the heat. While walking back to the car, I decided to check out around the Seminary building.

Seminary Building From The Lawn
Entrance To The Seminary Building

There is something about old church buildings and how they speak volumes without making a sound. Lots of stories being told in these hollow halls of this building, and judging by the land action notice sign, it seems the place will have a few more to share in the coming years.

Overall I hiked a total of 5.5 miles. Not bad for an urban hike.

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Deception Pass State Park

For the longest time I have been wanting to visit Deception Pass and the bridge that keeps showing up on my news feed over the past couple of months. Over one holiday weekend Dad and I loaded up the truck with our fishing gear and headed for Deception Pass Park’s Cranberry Lake for some fishing. Along the way we stopped to take in the sight that is Deception Pass Bridge.

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On a Friday morning we loaded up the truck with fishing gear and drove an hour and a half up to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey  Island side to Cranberry Lake. Once there we were greeted by a serene looking lake, and quietness of an early morning fishing spot. The side we ended up on was the east side of Cranberry lake near the entrance to the park’s campground. A half an hour into fishing I had caught my first fish, a medium size striped bass. For some weird reason I was more tickled about catching it than any other fish caught the whole day. Around 8:30am the Navy decided it was time for some training with the F-18 Hornets (Navel Air Base Whidbey is nearby). At one point if you were not awake already, you would have been once one turned on its after burner and then a sonic boom would jolt you awake. After awhile you just became use to the sound roaring over head as they were doing maneuvers over the lake. Later in the morning we ended up with a medium-sized catfish and a very small striped bass which sadly had to be released back into the lake.

 

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Stripped Bass
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Catfish

After a while I started catching large clumps of water weeds instead of fish. A true disappointment when you think there is a fish on the end of the line giving a fight.

After four hours of fishing we decided it was time to go when more people started showing up and crowding the dock. On the way back home we stopped at the Deception Pass Bridge Park to view the bridge by the same name. This bridge when seen in the flesh is quite a marvel of engineering, and raw beauty nature surrounding the structure in breath-taking. Being on the side of the bridge is a little nerve-wracking when cars are speeding past you close to the narrow strip of concrete you are standing on. But the view was worth the nerve-wracking, and I would never change that feeling.

 

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View Below The Bridge
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Vew From the Bridge

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The water below was a light turquoise color close to the waters around Hawaiian Islands during a rain storm and could see the swirling currents in the channel below. At one point a motor boat was gunning the engine into full throttle to get through the channel to the other side. I have heard in the past people have become stick in these strong currents coming off the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Skagit Bay.

 

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Skagit Bay w/ Strawberry Island
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Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific Ocean

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There were plenty of trails to hike down to the beaches along the channel, but I would like to save those for another time when I can devote a whole day to it. I believe another visit will be in store soon, and hopefully it will be on a sunny warm day. Driving back along highway 20, there were two lakes looking very tempting to fish. Pass Lake and Campbell Lake are the next lakes to tryout in the near future.

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North Beach Below

Now I can check this off the bucket list, and hopefully will have the chance to take out-of-state visitors to this wonderful gem close to the San Juan Islands. Maybe I will see them too. Who knows?

Hiking Wallace Falls

2015:

Looking back on all the hikes I have done over the years and I can say I have hiked Wallace Falls in all seasons. Strange to think that it is the primary hike that I have done with others. This past March I hiked this very same trail with Megan for her college geography project. I have hiked it in the middle of winter with the rain pouring down, in the middle of a hot summer

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Wallace Falls: Upper Falls

with lots of people crowding the trails, in the early spring with snow still on the ground and now early fall with all the trees peppered with fall blowing in the breeze. I think I need to find a new favorite hiking trail after this.

Our adventure started out with a detour that ended up taking us through the back country roads because as I found out last-minute SR-522 was closed for bridge construction. The drive ended up putting an extra thirty minutes to our already hour-long drive. Once we go there, there were lots of people starting out for the rail head in the parking lot and the weather looked like the rain was going to hold out. Another disappointment while hiking was the closed Rail Road Grade trail, so we had to hike the Woody Trail instead to get to the Upper Falls of Wallace Falls. The problems did not stop there, at the beginning of the hike my water bladder line leaked all over the front of my shirt resulting in me finishing the hike with my tank top (thank goodness for that!) and I started to over heat from all the exertion. Since hiking this trail many of times before, you would think I never have a problem. Wrong! Apparently the trail was more difficult this time around then the last three times. I felt half way through I was going to die from all the exertion I had to put forth to get over tree roots, and lift myself up to reach high steps on the stair parts of the hike. Michael realized how vertically challenged I am when it comes to certain heights and had to in the last bit of the hike hoist me up so I could get up the trail.

Apparently I have thought the Valley Over Look was the upper falls part of the hike. I was surprised to find that I had not made it to Upper Falls before. So we trudged up the steep switched backs to the Upper Falls area. When we got up to the falls, of my goodness! I have to say I missed out all those time when I didn’t make it up. The falls were beautiful.

The hike going down was not as bad except the last stretch where the stairs came back! But over all I’m glade I made it finally to Upper Falls of Wallace Falls.  Took us both 3 1/2 hours round a trip to hike the trail. I think next time I will aim to hike further up to Wallace Lake using the Rail Road Grade trail when it reopens again next summer. The trail is popular, but not as popular as Rattle Snake Ridge trail (believe me, people who have gone said it is very crowed in the day, and so go as early as possible for Rattle Snake!) and since it was free entry day for national and state parks, there were a little more people this time.


2014: Geological Hike

I have been Wallace Falls a few times and each time it has been a different season. In the past I have blogged about my trip up with a great friend of mine  and this time we both went again for a geology project she was doing for her geology class in college. The point of the trip was to hike up to the falls and take picture of her standing next to or near geological important markers for comparison in size. We decide to do it at Wallace Falls since it is an easier place to access and one of the few state/national parks open for visitors this time of the year.

The adventure started at 7am in the morning with a forty-five minute car trip up past Gold Bar on the way  to Steven’s Pass. When we left the Seattle area that morning, there was a little bit of sun starting to peek out from the clouds. By the time we reached the Gold Bar, there was rain and snow mixed coming down. The last two times I have been it was the middle of summer in 80 degree heat, and the other time in the fall where it was raining. This time I hiked with snow coming down! We started out on the trail as the only people hiking up there on a Monday morning. By the time we were heading out, more people started to show up.  For our hiking adventure we decided to be safe and hike the Railroad Grade part of the trail instead of the Scenic River trail because as we were driving up, the Skyhomish River is currently running very high on its banks, and some parts of the river are flooded or in flood warning.  We started out with a few flurries of snow coming down between the trees. By the time we were half way to the Wallace Falls Lake,  the snow was coming down in big flurries and at that point we both thought it would be better to turn back  for safely reasons.  Hiking up in the snow was a peaceful and tranquil experience. Hearing the sound of the water in the distance rushing down the side of the mountain, and hearing the gurgling of the small streams running down towards the river below. My friend and I kept think why we did not bring our nice DSLs with us for the beautiful snow shots. The trail had a lot of running water, puddles and soft gooey mossy mud. I am so glad for great sturdy hiking boots! I will admit the hike was wet and cold since we did hike it in early spring. So there is no surprise with snow and large amounts of water along the way. At some point, trees made parts of the trail bare to snow, and some parts of the trail started to see accumulation. Thank goodness we did not have to plow through the snow!

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Snow on the path!
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Snow and green moss!

Every so often we would stop and take a picture of something along the trail to mark the geological timeline of Wallace Falls. This would be anything from tree trucks, boulders, puddles where water over time accumulated, rock walls, large rotting tree trucks, and the falls themselves. I took a total of ten pictures of my friend standing next to all of theses things (except the falls, that would have been very dangerous!). As we traveled along there were sections of the trail were the falls/river could be seen, below you could see the massive amount of water coming off it was very impressive. I would so not want to be swept away by the sheer force of all that water.

It took a total of two and a half hours to hike up, and back. The total amount of miles we hiked was about four miles, with it being two and half miles both ways. I really like the Railroad Grade trial better than the Scenic one. The elevation up was not a killer, and being short, I don’t have to climb up stuff just to go further along the trail.  So hiking Wallace Falls in early spring in not as bad, but being prepared for possible snow is a factor everyone should note. Plus it is that time of the year where there could be bears coming out of hibernation. We were luck to not run into one along the way. Thank God for that!


2012:

Hiking through the woods to Wallace Falls was one of the best hikes so far this year I have been on. I have been planning on doing at least one major hike by the end of the summer, and just needed someone willing to go for a whole day. My friend Megan and I headed out to hike this wonderful trail outside the small railroad town of Gold Bar WA. This hike is around three-hour at least if you are going up to the Middle Falls part, with the hike at around a medium endurance level. This endurance level, you will need to carry a water bottle with you so you don’t get stuck without some hydration.

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Upper Falls look out. Looking out on Cascades National Forest and Gold Bar
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Megan at Middle Falls
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Me, Upper Falls

We started out on a gray morning in Shoreline WA with the possibility of rain (Seattle- what do you expect). I was the driver for this trip this time since I have a Discover Pass needed for parking at the trail head. I have not driven out to Gold Bar in a very long time, and when I saw it again, lots of memories started flooding back again. Some were bitter-sweet, and some bitter at the same time. When we started out, there was some sun, but still had clouds in the sky. Silly me had a rain coat on when I started out. I ended up having to take it off around one mile into the hike because I was becoming very hot. I will admit, this hike kicked my butt with having me stopped when the stairs became too much. Megan being tall, had no problem with the hike, well-being short like myself, I have to exert more energy to keep up.We made it to the top off the falls in no time. Drench in sweat and knowing this was the best workout ever, we both where very happy with how much this felt to both of us. The sun did come out making the forest glow a greenish tint on the way back down from the falls. While up at the falls eating a power bar a small squirrel was trying to climb up Megan’s leg to get a hold of her peanut bar in her hand. The poor creature wanted to have a piece of our bar for burying.

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Upper Falls of Wallace Falls
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Falls from the lower falls point
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Wallace Falls

Will I do this again? Heck yeah I would! I would like to go hiking and fishing at the same time too. I know I need to work out more due to now having my butt muscles hurting as I write this.