Photos from recent trips

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Hike 9/27 Mirror Lake (alternate for Hope & Mig Lakes)

Had to make a last-minute switch on this one, as our original plan became inaccessible due to the continuing fire-related closure of Highway 2 at Skykomish. Mirror Lake made a very similar substitute, and the perfect fall weather was just the ticket for a sweet day hike. Touches of fall colors, a gorgeous mountain lake, and periodic views of nearby peaks were the highlights. We found up doing about 6.5 miles, and close to 2000 feet gain

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Hike 9/25 The Kettles & Fort Ebey State Park

We headed to Whidbey Island to hike some trails near Coupeville. The Kettles is a mostly forested preserve with numerous trails that connect to the state park at Fort Ebey. A highligh was the bluff trail there that overlooks the Admiralty Inlet. We hiked a loop of about 5 miles.

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Hike 9/24 Mount Rainier Eastside Trail

The Eastside Trail is one of the lesser known, and very under-rated trails in Mount Rainier National Park. Instead of majestic views of the Mountain, you hike through nice old growth forest alongside a series of lovely creeks and streams. There are some nice waterfalls and trail bridges, and no crowds.

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Hike 9/21 Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

This trip featured two mini-hikes near beautiful Lake Crescent, west of Port Angeles. We started with a stroll through the rain forest to see 90-foot-tall Marymere Falls, then took a lunch break at Lake Crescent Lodge, before our afternoon walk along the recently upgraded Spruce Railroad Trail. We did about 4-miles on that trail, totaling asbout 6 miles on the day.

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Hike 9/18 Emmons Moraine

The Emmons Glacier on Mount Rainier is the largest glacier in the country (outside Alaska). This trip hiked to a view near the terminus of that glacier. It's a great place to ponder climate change and the very visible impact is has had on the shrinking glaciers. Mount Rainier's glaciers have receeded roughly 25% in the last century. The view from the moraine overlooks a changing landscape that vividly depicts the reactions of nature to our warming world.

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Hike 9/17 Easy Pass

The North Cascades are a region of ruggedness and inaccessibility. In relative terms, this trail right off Highway 20 that takes you up to over 6500 feet in elevation is easy compared to most routes around there. But easy is not simple. It's a steady uphill climb of nearly 3000 feet, but the payoff is grand. We caught it on a gorgeous September day with good air quality, a touch of fall color, and pleasant temperatures. 

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Walk 9/15 Rockport State Park

It was cool, cloudy, and showery-- in other words, a great day for a peaceful walk in an old growth forest. This beautiful park off Highway 20 in Skagit County has about 5 miles of trails that meander through the greenery beneath towering firs, cedar, and hemlocks. We just about had the park to ourselves this day, as we covered a majority of the trails and enjoyed a relaxing day away from the city.

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Hike 9/9 Cascade Pass & Sahale Arm

On a day when increasing fire danger and deteriorating air quality made hiking seem like a risky proposition, we pressed onward to Cascade Pass and Sahale Arm-- and it turned out remarkably well. At the outset of the hike, smoky air made the visibility quite low, but a strong east wind gradually blew the smoke away, and by mid-afternoon, we enoyed the spectacular views that this hike is famous for. Had some good wildlife sightings too, including marmots and a black bear. Our group racked up about 10 miles and 3000 feet of elevation on the day.

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Hike 9/7 Mazama Ridge - Mount Rainier

It was a 5-star day to visit The Mountain. We hiked up from Reflection Lakes on the south side of Rainier, climbing from 4900 feet to over 6000 feet on Mazama Ridge. Views, views, and more views.

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Walk 9/6 Water Taxi to West Seattle / Alki Beach

Alpine Andy turned into Downtown Andy for this one. Beginning in late afternoon, we parked by Pier 50 in downtown Seattle, took the passenger ferry across Elliot Bay to West Seattle, and walked for a couple of miles along the scenic waterfront pathway. On our return, we had a nice dinner at the Marination Ma Kai Hawaiian restaurant at the ferry dock before the return ferry to downtown with the setting sun brilliantly lighting up the city skyline. It was a fun and unique trip in perfect weather.

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Hike 9/4 Striped Peak

We hiked about 6 miles on an overcast, foggy day on the Olympic Peninsula at this little 1100-foot-high hill west of Port Angeles. An excellent system of trails explores the DNR lands on the peak, and features goregeous virgin forests, picturesque shoreline and coves, and vistas of the coastline and across the Strait of Juan deFuca toward Vancouver Island. We even managed to finish just as the rain showers were arrving.

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Hike 9/3 Ashland Lakes

The string of sunny hikes came to an end, but it was still a pleasant outing as we explored the trail to three small woodland lakes off the Mountain Loop Highway near Mount Pilchuck. This unusual trail on the Morning Star Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA) is managed by the state DNR and features many sections of boardwalk that carry you over the normally saturated ground. The forest was continually interesting, with huge old growth trees, many of which were gnarled and twisted into curious shapes. The hike was around 5 miles and 800 feet gain total, and we only encountered a handful of other parties on this holiday weekend Saturday.

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Hike 9/1 Ptarmigan Ridge

This seemingly endless stretch of sunny weather continued for this spectacular view hike in the high country near Artist Point. We followed the ridge trail for 3-4 miles in the open alpine terrain, with nearly-constant views of Baker, Shuksan, and other North Cascades peaks. 

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Hike 8/29 Watson Lakes

The hike to Watson Lakes, in the wilderness southeast of Mount Baker, is among the finest mountain lake hikes to be found in Washington. We got to do it on a beautiful clear day, and 10 hikers joined me on the trip. The trail is challenging, with several steep ups and downs, and sections of rough trail. Everyone persevered and got to enjoy the lakes, and some also fit in a side trip to the Anderson Butte Lookout site, which gave commanding views of Baker, Shuksan, and a good portion of the North Cascades.

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Bike 8/27 Willapa Hills Trail

This is a wonderful rail-trail that begins just off I-5 near Chehalis. It's a one-time logging railroad line that follows the Chehalis River valley westward through scenic rural landscapes and occasional small towns. Most people rode the 22 miles of trail that led to the endong trailhead in Pe Ell. Along the way, we made a nice lunch break at Rainbow Falls State Park on the river. This was a nice discovery, and a trip I hope to repeat in the future.

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Walk 8/26 Tommy Thompson Trail & Lunch

The TTT is a pleasant paved path in Anacortes that features long stretches of waterfront walking along Fidalgo Bay, including a 2000-foot section of trestle that crosses the bay. We walked a one-way route into the heart of Anacortes, conveniently finishing at the Gere-a-Deli, where we had a great lunch in a historic old building on Commercial Avenue. After lunch, the sun was breaking out, so we took a short detour to drive up to the Cap Sante viewpoint, enjoying the gorgeous vistas of the Anacortes harbor.

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Hike 8/21 Sourdough Ridge - Mount Rainier

Another stellar sunny day for some great views at Mount Rainier. We hiked about 3.5 miles across Sourdough Ridge (all above 6100 feet) with a high point of 7000 feet atop Dege Peak.

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Hike 8/19 Evergreen Mountain Lookout Sunset

We headed out to this 5587-foot-high summit northeast of Skykomish for a short hike to view the sunset.

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Walk 8/17 Lake Sammamish State Park

On a warm morning along the shores of Lake Sammamish. we walked a pleasant route in and around the popular state park. Starting out along the East Lake Sammamish Trail, we walked to the park, then linked a series of trails through surprisingly quiet, remote areas to tally around 4 miles in total. Views of the lake, sections of peaceful forest, and post-walk refreshments at the Sunset Beach cafe were the highlights.

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Hike 8/14 Federation Forest State Park

Back in the 1930's, the Washington chapter of the Federation of Women's Clubs took the initiative to preserve a tract of old growth forest-- before all of it was gone. Such a progressive idea at the time! The legacy of their work can be seen today at this 600-acre park off Highway 410 east of Enumclaw. The park features some gorgeous trails in the ancient forest along the White River, and also has a wonderful interpretive center named for Catherine Montgomery (1867 - 1957), an educator, environmentalist, women's club member, and avid hiker from Bellingham, whose donation funded the building. Fittingly, I was accompanied by an all-ladies group for this delightful walk in the forest.

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Hike 8/13 Heather Lake (Wenatchee NF)

No, this is NOT the popular Heather Lake trail near Mount Pilchuck. This Heather Lake is north of Stevens Pass, reached by driving up the Little Wenatchee River Valley. It's an 8-mile round trip hike that gains 1300 feet through a nice forest to the large sub-alpine lake at about 4000 feet elevation. It's far less visited than the more popular Heather Lake-- a real plus on an August weekend. The hike went nicely, and we got to paddle on the lake in my inflatable boat. But most of the "excitement" came in the form of developing wildfires about 8 miles to the east in the White River valley. We drove within sight of these fires on our way home. These small lightning-caused fires are likely to increase in size in the coming days, and recreation in that area will be halted. Lucky we got our trip in.

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Hike 8/11 Spray Park

So much to see on this wonderful hike near Mowich Lake in Mount Rainier National Park. Start with a well-maintained trail through nice old growth forest for the first couple miles, then take a short side trip to the first "big view" of Rainier, and then take another short side trip to view the spectacular 350-foot-high Spray Falls. But that's not even the good part. Break out into lovely wildflower meadows with grand views at about Mile 3, and continue as far as your energy allows up toward the top of 6454-foot Mount Pleasant and 360 degree views.

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Hike 8/9 Naches Peak Loop

This is undoubtedly one of the best wildflower hikes around Mount Rainier-- or anywhere in the northwest, for that matter. People are known to come back to this 4-mile circuit at Chinook Pass year after year during flower season. We came at a great time, and in spite of some cloudy weather and a few raindrops, it seemed like a perfect day to all of us there.

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Hike 8/7 Esmeralda Basin

We hiked one of the nicer trails in the Teanaway Region with blue skies and warm temperatures. The views were great, the wildflowers were out in abundance, and we even had the trail to ourselves most of the day. We covered about 7 miles and 1800 feet of gain on the day.

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Hike 8/6 Ebey's Landing

Another stellar blue sky day for some explorations of the Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve near Coupeville on Whidbey Island. We first hiked the Bluff Loop, a scenic 3.5-mile trail that goes up along a 300-foot-high bluff overlooking Admiralty Inlet, then returns via the beach. Next stop was at the nearby Cemetary Road trailhead, where we walked to some historic structures dating back to the 1850's, and perused some of the old grave sites, including the Ebey family, who were the first (white) settlers in the area. We capped things off by visiting downtown Coupeville to take in the atmosphere of that charming waterfront town.