PNW and the Great Beyond

Seattle was great and all, but a breath of fresh air is what I was really after – the wind in my hair, the smell of sunshine in the morning – or something like that anyway. So I went on a few adventures to satiate that need. Each one could easily have it’s own blog post, but for everyone’s sake I’ll cram them all in here.

Bayview State Park (so it begins)

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Just a bunch of hooligans at the beach

And on the fifth day (of the week) we journeyed North toward the land of the not-quite Americans: Canada. Except we didn’t quite make it that far. We stayed the night in a quaint little park town called Bay View, situated somewhere between Everett and Bellingham on Padilla Bay. The cabins were rustic one room shanties with four beds apiece, but we managed. In truth a hammock would have suited me just fine.

We wasted some time on the beach before turning in for a bonfire, where we proceeded to piddle around being a little too warm or a little too cold before turning in for bed. I probably had a few too many hot dogs and marshmallows for my own good, but there it is.

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Catching the sun, some say it’s impossible

One of my favorite pictures of this trip came at about 1:30am when Stephen and I stumbled around in the dark trying to find a cool spot for a long exposure on the beach. I’d say we had a lucky stumble.

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The Afterglow

The next morning we took the long way back home hitting all of the restaurants, ferries, and cool bridges on the way. One beautiful spot we came across was deception pass. I don’t really have a fear of heights, in fact I may even have an attraction to them, but boy does this bridge play with the eyes. I felt every foot of elevation walking across this one with only a thigh-high rail to hold me back.

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Deception Pass – aptly intimidatingly named

Oregon, my Love

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Maybe it’s too early to judge, as my time in Oregon is limited to a single day’s hike, but I think it’s at least safe to say that I have a crush on this hike. Daniel and I stole a car (actually it was just David’s car), and drove down to the Columbia River Gorge just over the Washington border and into Oregon. About half an hour out we started seeing staggering Basalt cliffs covered in vegetation and waterfalls flowing like endless rain into a paper cup. I nearly wrecked the car from excitement. We parked at the Eagle Creek Trailhead and walked 6 miles of the trail before turning around and walking all the way back. In that 6 miles, we saw over 20 (count ’em, 20!) high caliber waterfalls. The trees sagged with the weight of their moss, and the river roared down below us. Everything was mystical and magical in just the right way.

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Unnamed falls

 

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Punchbowl Falls

 

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Twister Falls

 

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Tunnel Falls

I could go into details of each waterfall, tell you all about my treacherous journeys down to the river searching for the perfect shot, but I think I’ll just leave you with the pictures. They say enough.

The Big Kahuna – Mt. Rainier

Rainier on the Cannon- 001 (5-20-2017)

This mountain is a beast! It may only be 14,000ft high, but with a prominence of over 13,000ft, it’s the biggest thing around by far, and it shows. This picture was taken from 25 miles away!

We wanted to climb it. More specifically we wanted to hike to Camp Muir, the base camp for people attempting to summit. Getting to Muir though still meant a 4 mile hike, in snow, with an elevation gain of nearly a mile. That’s a 25% grade in case you were wondering. So, we did our research, rented snowshoes, threw together a backpack and went on our way.

We also rented a sweet cabin for a couple nights, because who doesn’t love hot tubs!

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I was a little intimidated when we first arrived at the trailhead. At the base of the mountain the weather was nice, and the ground was not covered in snow. Twenty minutes of driving up the mountain and we realized the hike might be a little different. Paradise, the resort/trailhead, was covered in 15ft of snow. Wowee.

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David (~5:30am), not quite sure what he’s gotten himself into

But with snowshoes on feet and ski poles in hand, we started up the hill. (That is, after I nagged everyone to turn around and wait for me to get a group pic).

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Bright eyed and bushy tailed

There’s not much to say about dawn on a snowy mountain besides it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.

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Clouds above us, clouds below, sunrise and mountains in between

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Prayer on the Peak (he’s not actually praying, nor is this the peak, but I liked the sentiment and the alliteration)

 

As we sloughed up the mountain, the sun beat down relentlessly. We were grateful at first, but only later did we realize the err of our ways. Two coats of sunscreen were no match for fierce snow reflection. I managed to sear off the underside of my nose, and I’m still pulling dead skin from the insides of my ears.

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Peak on Blue

I know what you’re thinking. ‘That mountain doesn’t look all that tall.’ I had the same thought, but as we went up and up and up, the mountain never seemed to get any smaller.

Finally we made it to Camp Muir, a smattering of little stone structures partially hidden under lots of snow. We joined the crowd of exhausted bodies at the top and hunkered down for a little food before heading back down.

 

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Camp Muir

The experienced and adventurous hikers brought snow skis with them. We were not those hikers. We came down the mountain the same way we came up: the hard way. A couple more hours of hole punching and knee grinding later and we were back on solid ground once again, amidst the horde of mid-day tourists looking for a little fun in the snow and a nice family photo-op.

 

Hike hard and walk lightly,

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Seattle (the drizzly city?)

It’s Day 3 of my adventure in the Pacific Northwest (mainly just Seattle so far), and I’m enjoying every minute of it. “All it does is rain there” they said. Well my first day they were all proven wrong with beautiful sunshine all day long. But the second day had a hefty handful of drizzle and a fair bit of chill. The third day has yet to show it’s true colors, but it sure looks pretty out. Actually it just started raining again, oh well. Did I mention this is my bedside view?

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Queen Anne’s view

I am graciously lodged with some friends for the week (friends in tech who can afford an amazing cityscape view up on the hill), and boy is that great. The massive sun room window lets in all the light so I can never sleep in, but that’s probably for the best.

Anyway, if I had to describe this city in a few words, it would be airplanes, Space Needle (spooce noodle), and tantalizing. The first two are pretty self explanatory. There are literally planes in the air all the time everywhere. Every time I look up, I can see one in the sky over the city. They also have cool seaplanes which by some witchcraft are both boats and airplanes (don’t ask me how).

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And of course we all know about the Space Needle, but nobody really knows what it is. Some theories suggest it’s actually used for transmitting all of our government’s secrets into space in hopes that more intelligent life will come save us from ourselves. Fingers crossed.

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Finally ‘tantalizing’ is maybe not the descriptor you’d expect. Here’s what I mean: I’ve been here three days. I’ve seen plenty of cool city attractions. All in all, I’d say actually one of my favorite big cities, but what I’m missing is some adventure in the fabled rain forests of the Olympic peninsula or the mountains which surround the city in all directions – Rainier, Olympus, Glacier and the lot. These mountains are what I find tantalizing. Every time I look out at the city, way off in the distance, just past the sky scrapers, I can see natures sky scrapers just waiting to be explored. But enough of that. I have no set plans, but I sense we’ll get to those behemoths in the near future.

 

Here are some other neat things I’ve seen so far. 

The Great Gum Wall

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Somewhere deep within Pike Place Market, there is a wall encrusted entirely in the gum and saliva of its previous tourist victims

Space Needle

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The mythical Space Needle (colloquially referred to as the Spooce Noodle)

Elliott Bay

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Part of the Puget Sound which stems from the Pacific Ocean. Boats/Cranes in the front, The Great Wheel in the back

Lake Union

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Just some lake or something. Home to all the geese in the city, and apparently a hefty chunk of sailboats as well

Anyway, I’ll be back later with more on the sights of the PNW. In the meantime

Explore,

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The Buried and the Best

Fake it til you make it kid
Nobody knows the things we did
When concrete sprouts a daffodil
But guns are sprouting shots to kill
See one of these is something great
While hate can only breed more hate
And neither is it recognized
Not understood or otherwise
So hide your kids and hide your wife
Nobody gets a lease on life
It’s for the buried and the best
For those who could not pass the test
A cobra spits its venom fast
But jump and you might find the past
Too good for you, or so it seems
With present bursting at the seams
The world is changing, God forbid
Just fake it til you make it kid

Eagle’s Nest: Red River Gorge (4/28/17)

Picture this: Spring has sprung in a major way, but I’ve been stuck inside all week pulling all nighters, writing 20 page papers, and just generally wallowing in the reclusiveness of end-of-school madness. It was past time I got out of the house to revive the recently absent adventure in my Fridays. So as I do, I grabbed a friend, grabbed a camera, and hit the road. Next stop: Eagle’s Nest.

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Eagle’s Nest (Red River Gorge)

If you’ve ever wondered (as I have) what it’s like to live in a hole hundreds of feet up the shear face of a cliff, look no further than Eagle’s Nest. At the low, low cost of just 20 panic attacks a night, you too could sleep in the coolest sandstone bed this side of the Red River!

Waterfalls like Honey Nectar

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Unnamed Waterfall

Wow talk about beautiful! We went into our Eagle’s Nest expedition with only a few GPS coordinates and the promise of a good view, but we were not expecting the gloriousness of this waterfall.

Absolutely mammoth, double shelved and spitting into the wind, it was a sight to see. The rocks below, both black and sand, were accented by the green growth between them. The mist from the falls started tight, then whipped in the wind to form ghostly dancing figures above before spiraling out in all directions as light spring kisses on the ground and on our faces.

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A picture simply cannot do it justice, and yet here I sit trying to make that happen anyway. The show must go on.

Up Top (The View that was promised)

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Standing in awe of our horizons

Just a couple of cool cats having fun, dirty knees and a gentle breeze. The view from topside at Eagle’s Nest has quickly become one of my favorites in the Gorge. A slightly less dense hill in the middle really gives the green expanse a focal point, bordered on both sides by the Red River in a horseshoe-esque bend. Top Notch.

The Nest

We did eventually make it into the nest after a bit of exploring and soaking in the sights.

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Hanging from the nest (some sort of primate instinct I guess)

Don’t focus too long on my leg or you might get a headache. Much of the photography on this hike was spent playing with my new Rokinon 14mm wide angle lens, which I have no idea how to properly use. As evidenced by the above picture, the wide angle distorts depth perspective a little, and my left shin got caught in the cross fire. Pencil thin and long as a bird’s, I’m sure soon to become an ostrich if I’m not careful.

The rest of the hike was a little boring, as far as hikes go. I left my camera in the bag and we just enjoyed traipsing through the woods and making our own path until we stumbled on the real trail and eventually looped back around to the car.

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Plant growth on the second shelf of the waterfall


All in all a wonderful new hike with waterfalls and cliff side views to rival any in the Red River Gorge. 

Explore,

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