8 years ago I hiked part of a trail on the crest of Eastern Washington, Crow Lake Way Trail, in a miserable rain/snow storm. My oldest (Ford) was with me, he was 6 at the time. I have only one photo of that trip.
His backpack was bigger than him at times, he was my backpacking and hiking partner, going everywhere with me. But I didn’t take many photos on that trip. It was just too cold and nasty. We never made it either, we got turned around less than 2 miles in, due to snow drifts that were 8 to 10 feet deep. I have been back to the area since then doing backpacking but not on that end of the trail (the trail goes a distance and connects to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) many miles apart. I had a friend ask earlier in the week if I might be free on Saturday for a dayhike, Kirk gave a me a day off and I about bolted out of bed at 5:30 am on Saturday And lord knows I rarely wake up that early on purpose these days! Janelle had not hiked Crow Lake Way Trail and I figured…why not revisit it? Just getting out was worth it. I blocked my mind to how steep the trail was going to be and got moving.
Mt. Rainer in the clouds, above White River (from the highway as you drive to the passes):
Our chances of better weather were higher with every mile we drove past the crest of the Cascades anyways. The mountains are still full of snow, the passes were gorgeous to drive over. Soon enough we were at the trailhead with an 8:30 am starting time. And no one else but a group of horse campers camping at the trailhead. Perfect!
The hike was simple enough as we left the valley floor and started climbing immediately. It is many, many switchbacks in open forest. Not the most scenic trail to be blunt, but you get a workout, it wasn’t hot (windy, mid-60′s) and few bugs. And good companionship made it go by fast. And once the trail flips to the other drainage, going around the corner on the ridge you are hiking up, the views start coming. We took a break on a knoll here, with views looking West, towards American Ridge and Chinook Pass. A quick storm came in and lightly rained on us but it wasn’t bad, it felt good really! After the rain blew away, the humidity dropped, making the hike even nicer. Janelle had brought homemade cookies, which were a tasty treat.
As the trail wound up the ridge we got views from both sides, east was Fifes Ridge -
More of the ridge -
I love silver snags, especially those on the edge -
The trail was mostly snow free. I had packed my micro spikes, alas I didn’t need them, the snow was easy to walk over (oh darn!). Most of the time the trail was smooth and open though – like this gorgeous section of ridge.
Finally we hit snow in large sections that was steep and seeing we had gained over 2,000 feet elevation gain, Janelle and I picked out a lovely knoll to have lunch on – that is we went above the snow to a warm dry spot!
With views too!
I love this color of green, it pops against the snow -
About this time we actually saw other hikers! Shocking…although we only saw 3 parties, a total of 5 people. Real crowded….not. Hiking near Seattle you see 5 people every 5 minutes! One reason I always love my hikes out there – they are lonely (and close to my house…) A crowd is seeing 10 people…..
The trail down was prettier – we saw so many wild flowers opening in the warming temperatures, it could be a gorgeous year for it. The views looking East, towards Yakima were wonderful. I don’t know how many miles we did, someone (me) left her GPS at home, on the jogger stroller…and not in her backpack. Oh well!
I have played with an app Kirk loaded onto my phone, the Photosynth. Fun! You can do 360° photos with little effort and then do 2 things – load them up online where they are interactive or you can use them as a regular photo. Way too much fun! Which leads me to another thing – I found that I took most of my photos with my mobile phone camera this trip, even though I had a regular camera along. I was testing a new camera Kirk had picked up, a Fujifilm Finepix XP50, that he got for kayaking (it has some neat features – shockproof, waterproof to 16 feet and is very tiny/light) but someone named Sarah hadn’t read the manual and got frustrated. And found her Nokia Lumia’s camera worked great and my pictures GPS’ed themselves which was a nice touch. (Which was how I knew where we had turned around, I could see it pinned on the map in iPhoto)
I came home feeling like I had had a good workout, I felt relaxed and Alistaire was all smiles that Mommy was home finally to cuddle with him. Both my little boys were happy I was back. Kirk had taken them to the season opening day of the local farmers market while I was gone (oh well!) but he was a sweetie and brought me home berries and cherries. Yum! A nice way to end a day out.