Hiking In The Alpine|Things I Wished I Knew Before

Hiking is a rewarding experience many people in the PNW thoroughly enjoy. Last summer I had the opportunity to experience hiking in remote, alpine regions of Western Washington. When I first started out on the big adventure last summer, I failed to realized I may not know what I was up against. I learned the hard way on a few occasion.

What I failed to realized turned into an adventure within an adventure. Here are the things I wished I knew before hiking in the alpine.

Altitude sickness is not for planes:
I have spent most of my life at or a little above sea level and only experienced altitude sickness when in Tanzania. I should have listened when my own body started to struggle with keeping water and a granola bar down. Breathing started to become harder as I climbed further up the mountain, and the dizziness set in when ever I had to exert more energy to get over a log. I thought I was out of shape, but this is not true.

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Lesson: Hiking takes a lot of effort to reach the end point. When hiking in alpine mountain regions, you have to take your time going up, and really tune in with what your body is telling you before it is too late. I was lucky it did not get to this point, but it could have become a major medical emergency.

Beware of snow:
Sheets of ice is more like it! Snow can be found in areas in the middle of summer. Avalanches still happen in the summer as they do in the winter. I recall a moment when hiking up to Fremont Lookout in Mt. Rainer National Park last summer where what sound as a gun shot going off in the distance followed by the sound of a roar alerted everyone in the hiking group of an avalanche sliding down the side of the opposite mountain side! Not to mention slipping and landing hard on a snow cover rock or worst falling into a craven or a lake! You may want to have a snowball fight, but be warned, they hurt when it hits you!

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Lesson: Be aware of the snow around you. Falling and breaking something is a danger no matter how prepared you are.

Toilet paper is your friend:
The one time I decided to forgo the toilet paper was the time there was no toilet paper to be had! Normally I would carry a role of toilet paper in my pack, but the one time I forgo it was at a trail head outhouse where there were no rolls left by other hikers. Thank goodness it was not while in the Olympic National Park (mountain goats smell urine and can result in a deadly encounter!), but in Mount Baker National Forest. Hiking up the trail and air yourself out is not the best way to start a hike.

Lesson: Always pack a roll of toilet paper while hiking, traveling in a remote area and road trips. I had mine in Tanzania, but for some reason, I did not have one in the wilderness of Washington!

Wildlife, they are not always afraid of you:
The sound of marmots whistling at you is a warning to other marmots of your present, but a deer, bear, cougar or any other such animals, are not afraid of you. I will not forget the time a hiking group left me alone out in the open when a deer suddenly bolted upright and headed into the trees sensing a predator. I at the time sense something was not right, and that a bear or cougar was in the area. Fear of knowing at any moment those two animals are not afraid of you is scary. Imagine hiking down the side of the mountain with just a headlamp and see a bear or worst a cougar in your path. These animals think you are the prey.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Lesson: Be aware of your surroundings, and take caution when hiking through bear or cougar country.

Alpine lakes are cold, proceeded with caution:
When there is snow present, there is a lake or river somewhere near by. Lakes in alpine regions are cold-hypothermia cold. Most alpine lakes are fed by snow or glaciers melting, making these lakes crisp, cold and deadly clear. Swimming in them should be done with caution if not ever. On a hot sweaty hiking day in the summer they are inviting, but not all alpine lakes are the same temperature, and each one you encounter will feel different. Having your body submerged in for one minute can cause hypothermia to the body. I remember standing in such lake up to my wast, and started to not be able to feel my legs!! It was difficult to get out of the water, and took ten minutes of rubbing my legs to get the deathly white color to a living flesh color. The rest of the hike back down to the van was painful.

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Also, the water is not exactly safe the drink either from a glacier stream, river or lake.

Lesson: Just dip you hot sweaty feet into the water instead of the shoreline and treat the water you pull from the lake if drinking it.

Storm clouds are in your face:
I will not forget staring face to face with a dark black cloud on the Johnson’s Ridge Observatory Trail at Mount St. Helens. Being high up with little to no treeline protection can mean anything can happen in a split second. Scary when the cloud can have lightning. Hurricane Hill in Olympic National Park I remember how fast those clouds moved across the landscape, and how one minute it is a nice sunny day with warmth to a few seconds it is blizzard conditions and the temperature drops to freezing. A simple rain jacket is not enough, nor a simple baseball cap and even the fleece jacket does not keep you warm. Hypothermia strikes by lightening or anything nature throws at you can become life to death situation.

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Lesson: Be prepared for all-weather conditions and pack winter clothing when hiking in higher regions of the mountains not matter if it is an eighty degree weather day. Dressing in layers that can be easily shed during the hike or put on is your friend.

Go Girl can be a lifesaver:
Men have it easier than women when needing to go on a backcountry trail. Men just go off into the bushes without much thought, but us women, we need to find a secluded vulnerable place to do our business. After having to (TMI alert) pee off a trail stripping to be half-naked, and almost if not peeing on ones self, is just too much work (and cold wind blowing on your bum).  Not to mention some other hikers just don’t get it why you are crouched down in the bushes!

Lesson: Get a Go Girl to use for hikes where the nearest outhouse is miles away, and you can discreetly just go behind a bush.

Wildfires:
Where there is smoke, there is a fire! This is not something I learned the hard way, but it was always in the back of the mind. Hiking in the alpine and backcountry regions of the mountains during the late spring through the fall can put hikers into the path of a wildfire. From an old fire lookout, I saw a two (one-off in Canada, the other in Eastern Washington) wildfires in the distance burning in the opposite directions from me. Still, to see the smoke hanging in the air, it was a sign to start back down to safety in case the fire decided to switch directions.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What to do: Always check conditions before leaving on the hike, being aware of the surrounding area, and when you smell smoke, see it or hear it, move fast away from it. See this link for more information: Dos and Don’t s of Wildfires.

Once you hike in the alpine, you are never the same again!

This summer go enjoy a backcountry hike, and don’t do what I did!

Sugar Plum Christmas Time

The Nutcracker… that is for children and adults who are children at heart.
Because of an adult is a good person, in his heart, he still is a child.
In every person, the best, most important part is that which remains from his childhood.
~George Balanchine

There is something about the season of Christmas that brings out the child in all of us. The sugar-plum candies on brightly decorated plates, merry tunes playing from a bygone era, and magic of twinkling lights in the rain. As I have grown older there is still a part of me still in child awe at the season of Christmas. The Nutcracker is one, walking along a pathway of lights as they do in Scandinavia, and being together with those who you cherish.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Pacific Northwest Ballet:
img_2613As the quote above says, The Nutcracker has been something I have always wanted to see. This past September I saw the tickets go on sale for the day after Thanksgiving and decided it was time to see this with Nana. I will admit I did pick out great seats for this matinée performance Sunday after Thanksgiving.

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Since this version is different from the Stowell and Sendak Nutcracker many have seen before 2015, this version was brightly colorful and done with the spirit of Christmas all wrapped into two hours. Traditional Nutcracker is weaved throughout the ballet with the famous Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier performing the pas de deux at the end. A new character with some humor to the story is Mother Ginger and her Polichinelle. You just have to go to see the Nutcracker to see this part!

Green Lake Pathway of Lights:

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On a clear cold December Saturday evening, a walk around Green Lake lighted with candles sounded like something Christmas to me. Since this part of Seattle is normally busy no matter what time of day it is, I decided to leave around 3:30pm to have plenty of time to find a parking spot on one of the surrounding streets. I scored one with relative ease! When I first started out on the path, volunteers were just beginning to light the candles and the sun was setting. Halfway around the lake was done with still light, and the other half was done with light from the many candles lining the path.

On the side of the lake where the community park is located was a bunch of hot air balloons laminating the dark skies, and giving off a spectacular view. unfortunately, there were no hot air balloon rides being done at the time. With some hot free hot chocolate in hand, and keeping an extra eye out for small children, walked around the rest of the lake with the masses. I will admit this event gets very crowded fast and people as my mom was saying, can become not so smart in the dark. So if you are not for big crowds, go at the very beginning.

Lastly…..

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Olympic Sculpture & Myrtle Edwards Park

The bluest skies you see are in Seattle! Perry Como had it right, when the sun shines in Seattle it is a beautiful sight to see. After the Terracotta Warriors and lunch, it was time to walk down to the Olympic Sculpture Park on the waterfront. To get to the park I walked 0.7 miles down Broad Street (a hill!) from the Seattle Center to the waterfront.

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There was a lot of people hanging in the park soaking up the sunshine and the view of Elliott Bay. With space and art installations scattered around the park, one could easily find a spot for the afternoon or day and relax.

 

The head sculpture has the best view

Look at this beautiful view below! Pretty skies you see are in Seattle.

 

Oh the Space Needle

Right about the time of this picture, there was a train coming through on the track below. This is a constant reminder of how industrial Seattle still is at the core and the reason why some of the parks here are in existent because of the train tracks creating an open space for the public to enjoy along the water.

 

I raise you an “and”

Also, there is another park the Olympic Sculpture park merges into and this is the Myrtle Edwards Park along the waterfront north of the cruise ship dock. Here there is plenty green grass to picnic on and a beach to view vast blue of Elliot Bay.

A little blurry in the picture of a ship unloading cargo and cruise ships parked at the mooring dock. Below is the famous PI globe atop the old Seattle PI newspaper building. This globe is not longer spins as it uses to and is slated just like the old Rainer Brewery R as a historical relic in the MOHI.

With the weather being so gorgeous and the temperature was in the lower 70s, this was a perfect day to spend in Seattle. Make the long wet winter a thing of the past. After spending a few hours soaking up the sights, I made a sweaty hike back up the hill to Seattle Center for one last snack at a food truck before going home.

Art and Cheese-A Sunday In Seattle


To get me in an art museum is to bribe me. Really bribe me. So when it came to a Facebook event posting about a free three days at the Seattle Art Museum, I believed it was a bribe enough. This past Sunday I went on one of the free days with my Mom to see what the whole collection is about. While there I got to see the newest exhibit to got on displace Jacob Lawrence: The Migration Series. Overall it was fascinating to see a series of paintings dispiriting the great migration of African-Americans moving from the South to the North and West parts of the country. Worth a look.

While touring the museum I realized I am not much of a fan for contemporary art. Some of those things look like a kindergartener painted them. The mouse versus man was interesting, but a bunch wooden stick wrapped in barbwire is something I just don’t get. The room full of china had a few pieces I am familiar with or seen in some of the great houses in England. A lot of art comes from old masters of European paintings. One such paintings are the Greek Orthodox Christian painting depicting Christ’s birth and crucifixion, along with statues of saints (some I have never heard about) on display.

After seeing all of Seattle Art Museum, we headed to Pikes Place Market for some lunch and to walk through the stalls. The weather as always was cloudy with a some sprinkles. We both decided to try out Beecher’s Mac n Cheese for the first time. An 8oz is the smallest they have, and boy is the mac n cheese very rich (yes it is not Whole30 compliant but it is worth the cheat!). There is reason this is world-famous, the cheese is real wholesome cheese.

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Beecher’s Mac n Cheese

After a filling lunch of mac n cheese, we both had to walk some of it off by ambling along in the Pike Market Stalls checking out all the flowers, produce, and even the fish stalls (no fish throwing at all). There was even tulips at one flower stall, and dried flowers for sale as well. Since the rain was holding off, we decided to go visit the park down the road to have a glimpse of Elliot Bay and the Seattle Wheel before the Viaduct come down for good.

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Seattle Wheel and Seattle Aquarium

 

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Victorian Murder Mystery: The International Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

The game is afoot….

Sherlock Holmes is a much-loved “high functioning sociopath” we all are very familiar with. I would not call me a fan girl of the show Sherlock, but I cannot wait for the new season to come in the BBC in January 2017. So I could not resist going to see The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at the Pacific Science Center instead of braving the Black Friday craziness.

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Outside the exhibition

The day was a crisp cold day in downtown Seattle with some sunshine peeking out from the clouds. With a peppermint mocha in hand, I made my way to line gathering outside the entrance to be the first few people inside. The exhibition is about how the character of Sherlock became, the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle life (he was one of many who contribute to the beginnings of forensic science), and taking the visitor on a hunt for clues to solve a mystery using the same basic techniques as Sherlock would use during the Victorian times.

At the beginning of the exhibition you are given a small detective notebook with pages for activities within the exhibit to solve a crime. Each part of the exhibit has the background on how the field of forensic started, how those techniques are still in use today and the background knowledge on some of the clues you will encounter while solving the crime. As you walk through the exhibition you are deducting clues and facts in order to figure out what happened at the scene of a crime.

Towards the end of the exhibition there is a section devoted to various shows and movies spun out of the books known to many. One thing I did learn from this section is the phrase “elementary” was never a line uttered by Sherlock or Watson in any of the books written by Conan Doyle. It was added as an effect for a movie back in 1937.

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Horseless buggy

At times I was a little confused on how you are supposed to go about collecting the clues. At one point I had a hard time finding one of articles in 221b Baker Street home of Sherlock Holmes. I had to ask a volunteer for help. It ended up being one of those ah ha moments that should have happened sooner (palm to forehead). One thing I thought was missing was how forensic scientist today use Sherlock Holmes’ techniques to solve crimes. Oh well the scientist in me is always trying to get more young kids interested in sciences (especially young girls).

Overall the exhibition is worth exploring especially if a fan of Sherlock Holmes and you want to put those amateur sleuthing skills to good use. I enjoyed learning about how forensic science came about in Victorian London England, and knowing more about a great-great grandfather who was a London “bobby” on the streets of London around the same time as Jack the Ripper was roaming around.

…. as for whodunit, you will have come see for yourself for the answer.

More Information:
Pacific Science Center Pacific Science Center Exhibit runs until January 8, 2017.

Never theorize before you have data. Invariably you end up twisting fact to suit…:

Hiking Adventure At Discovery Park

What to do on a nice warm sunny day in Seattle? Go on a mini hike through Discovery Park. On a warm sunny day Nana and I decided to go explore Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood. It has been a while since I last was here, and some memories came back-mostly at Fort Lawton’s Historical District.

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First I started off on the discovery trail loop toward the West Point Lighthouse at the tip of the park. Being at warm sunny day in the middle of the week, I saw a few trail runners, dog walkers, joggers and a few other day hikers along the trail. Along the North Beach trail, there were a few paddle boarders, sail and fishing boats in the bay, but a the beach was pretty much deserted. A beach to one’s self is rare moment to be treasured!

At the West Point Lighthouse there was hardly anyone around on the beach and a very peaceful quiet setting with a marvelous view of the Olympic Mountains across the bay. Here is where I ate my lunch in a shade of a tree in the backyard of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages. Two lighthouse keeper’s cottages look to be in sad disrepair compare to how the lighthouse looked. The lighthouse is not open to the public to tour because of automotive equipment takes up all the space in the small lighthouse. *note* be careful of lead paint around the lighthouse. After looking around I headed up the trail towards the Historical Fort Lawton area. One area I had to pass was the West Point Sewage Treatment Plant within the park. I forgot how nasty it is to walk pass this place on a hot summer day! I almost lost my lunch to putrid smell of untreated sewage waffling off the large tanks near the trail.

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Next stop on the hike was the Fort Lawton Historical District. Up until 2011 this part of the park was an Army base. There are a few structures left to signify the remains of an active military post.The last time I was here in 2014, most of the buildings looked very dilapidated. Now they look all cleaned up and restored to blend in with the renovated officer’s houses going on the market. Twenty two of the remaining base houses have been converted into privet residences for the public to buy at an asking price of $799,000 to over 1.2 million. Base on the Zillow photos, these are not the base housing you would be assigned in the military. Few people were about in this part of the park, and came across a few people sitting in the shade of the buildings enjoying the quietness of a hot summer day. On top of the hill is the church where a stunning view of the snow cap peaks of the Olympic Mountain range can be seen.

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On the way back to the car, I came upon the old Fort Lawton Military Cemetery with bone white head stones in neat rows. The cemetery is small compared to the national ones I have been to. A quiet secluded place of rest for the living and those who have passed on. One of the headstones I came across dated back to the 1908 era when a family (Robinson’s) were laid to rest after fighting in the American Civil, Spanish-American and Mexican wars. This like many others in the small section had Civil War to World War Two as the wars represented by those laid to rest here. For a few moments I sat and reflected in this peaceful place under the flag pole.

The hike in total was five miles all around the park. I am very glad to have seen all of the sights with relative peace and quiet. I have come to a point where it is getting too crowed in Seattle area, and having less crowds to enjoy the park was well worth the sweat.