Kendall Katwalk

November 2nd, 2008

My friends Will and Karina have a baby daughter who is just a little over the age of 1.  They also have another baby who is due to be born soon.  Needless to say Will doesn’t get out much.  Being childless myself, it’s kind of hard to fathom how that hinders a persons activities.  But I have enough friends with kids to know that I’d better get as much stuff done now as possible because once we have kids my life will change radically.

A couple of weeks ago the weather forecast was calling for perfect weekend weather.  In Seattle when the weatherman says Saturday is going to be sunny you can’t mess around so Will and I started talking about a hike.  Of course there was the problem of the baby and the pregnant wife to be worked around.  What could we do?  I had a plan.  We would leave my house at 5:00 am and do a short hike.  When I mentioned to a few other people that we were leaving the city at 5:00 to hike to the Kendall Katwalk I got the same response everytime: “you know it’s not that far, right?”.

Of course I knew that it is only 10.5 miles roundtrip but the hike reinforced something else that I already knew: “the early bird gets the worm”.  I’m not saying that the other hikers that day didn’t have a good time but we had the trail all to ourselves and that made the alpine start worth every minute of lost sleep.

Naima, the reason for the early start.  I guess I can understand why Will wanted to get home early.


Ollie didn’t mind leaving town early

Daniel and Ollie

The fog in the Valley was impressive.

Fog around Kendall Peak

Will pondering the inevitable.

Will on the Katwalk

Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Mt. Rainier

Camp Muir in October

October 27th, 2008

Everyday is like Sunday
Everyday is silent and gray


I don’t think last Sunday is quite what Morrisey had in mind when he wrote those lyrics.  Last Sunday was definately not gray.

Dave and I set out from Paradise a little after nine.  It was quite windy at first but by the time we reached Panorama Point the wind had died down and it was a calm sunny day.

Mt. Rainier

Once we reached the snow, I switched to skis and joined the crowds skinning towards Camp Muir.

Skinning on the Muir Snowfield

The temps were cool enough to ensure that the snow was only going to get better as the day went on so we took our time and arrived at Camp Muir around 2:00.

Dave at Camp Muir

After a short break it was time to ski.

Dave carving turns on the lower flanks of a very big mountain

I think this is described as, “not a cloud in the sky”.  I’m not complaining but it was a little hazy.

Looking south from Camp Muir

The scenery is as inspiring on the descent as it was on the ascent.

Dave with Mt. Rainier in the background

Definately the best skiing I’ve ever had in October.

A New Goal

October 15th, 2008

Since June 13th, when this blog officially went live, I have nearly one post per week.  There were a total of 3 weeks that managed to slip by without a post.  Some posts were trivial at best.  That doesn’t matter to me.  I’m in a new year’s resolution sort of mood.  From this point forward I will strive to have at least one post a week.  I’ve made it public, let’s see if I can stick to it.

Now, about other goals.  I’d like to get out and do something this weekend.  The meteorolgists at the National Weather Service have a fairly promising forecast for Saturday.  Mostly sunny with a high of 57 in Seattle.  I can work with that.  Maybe a ski on Rainier or a hike to get the legs tuned up for the immenent ski season?  Anyone out there interested?

Round II

October 8th, 2008

After last Saturday, I felt like I had a little unfinished business in the Enchantments.  I still wanted to hike the whole trail in a day.  Eric mentioned that he was interested in it and asked if I wanted to join him.  The forecast was terrible but I couldn’t resist.

It was obviously going to be one of those soggy NW days that we talk so much about.  But there is something refreshing about a walk in the rain.  It reminds you that a little discomfort is important to keep life in balance.

After a couple of hours we came to the first lake (Nada Lake).  At this elevation the leaves on the underbrush was starting to change but the trees will stay green all winter.

From Nada Lake the trail rises a little to Snow Lake.  At that point the map shows the trail transitioning from a solid line to a dashed line.  We quickly learned why.  The trail became a scramble up hopelessly steep granite slabs and boulders.  Even with cairns to guide the way we got turned around and lost.

The prize of all of the struggle is arriving at Lake Viviane.  This marked the beginning of the middle enchantments.  The area is high alpine in the truest sense of the word.  Only the most robust vegetation can survive.  Mostly the scenery is just granite wedged between more granite.  There is series of small lakes, each one a few feet higher than the next with water cascading between them.

Once into the middle enchantments, the wind really picked up.  We put on the last of our clothing, buttoned down the hatches and pushed on towards Aasgard Pass.  It felt like a scene out of Lord of the Rings.  The harsh mountain environment, the heavy wind, and the sleet and snow reminded me of just how fragile I am.

Finally, after 8 hours of hiking we arrived at Aasgard Pass.  The snow was a mixed blessing.  I would have prefered pleasant sunny weather, on the other hand, winter is near.

The hike down to Colchuck Lake is punishing.  You lose 2200 vertical feet in 0.9 miles.  But you can’t beat the scenery, you are litterally hiking next to the shear cliffs of the north face of Dragontail.

After all the rain that we had endured, the sun finally peaked through the clouds, lighting up Colchuck Lake with an impressive azure color.

After descending to Colchuck, the sun set and we hiked the last 4 miles in the dark.  There’s not much to say about that part of the trip other than the desire to be sitting in Leavenworth eating bratwurst and partaking in the oktoberfest merryment was almost overwhelming.


October 2nd, 2008

Last Saturday I woke up early and drove to my favorite Bavarian themed American town.  Leavenworth, despite the cheesy faux Bavarian architecture, is an awesome place.  It is located in one of the most impressive natural locations in the state.  My purpose of visiting wasn’t to partake in the beginning of the Oktoberfest celebrations, rather it was to hike the Enchantments.  I had been almost completely out of commission for three weeks due to a back spasm and it was time for me to get back into the swing of things.  The Enchantments are well known for their natural beauty and the grueling hike that depending on which trailhead you start at begins at 1300′ and tops out at 7800′ roughly 10 miles later before decending to the other trailhead.  This makes a 17 mile partial loop through some of the most impressive scenery in the alpine lakes wilderness.

I had plans to hike the whole trail and hitchhike back to the car but I got a little too late of a start and decided to turn around at Snow Lake.  It was a fantastic hike nonetheless.

Here are a couple of pictures from the day.

First stop Nada Lake

Nada Lake from uptrail

The leaves are starting to change


October 2nd, 2008

I’ve often wondered about the sanity of sports.  Basketball makes sense.  It’s fun, it’s good excercise, and there is enough competition to keep it interesting.  Football is a little harder to justify.  The chance of injury is a lot higher and it requires a lot of organization.  For football you have to have 22 people, organized plays, pads, helmets…  Sure you can play touch football with a few friends but that’s really only fun for the fastest sprinter in the group.

Climbing, mountaineering and especially ski mountaineering are even harder to justify but still it kind of makes sense.  There is something understandable about setting a difficult goal and then striving to accomplish it.  It’s a big bonus if achieving that goal has some excitement and adrenaline involved, like skiing does.

Nonetheless, some sports just don’t look fun at all.  Tower Jumping is one of those sports.  The New York Times has a very interesting video about this obscure sport.  Watch it here.


September 11th, 2008

The weather in Seattle has been really great over the last week and a half.  It is the kind of weather that is sunny but not hazy, warm but not hot, cool in the evening but not cold.  It may rain a lot in Seattle but the rain makes one appreciate the perfect late summer days that much more.  I’ve never met a person who cherishes good weather the way that a Seattlite does.  Because the skies have been clear I’ve noticed the sunsets over the Olympic Mountains and everynight I promise that, “tomorrow I’m going to photograph that”.  Tonight I followed through.  Here are a couple of simple panoramas of the sunset from my neighborhood.

Olympic Mountains from Seattle

Olympic Mountains from Seattle

Skiing in August

September 8th, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I skied Ruth Mountain with my father-in-law.  We both hiked but I carried skis so I reaped the benefit on the downhill portion.  The whole trip report, including pictures can be found here.

Breaking News

August 19th, 2008

The NWS has issued a special weather statement in effect for western Washington right now. It looks quite promising. The snow level is dropping. For those willing to go high, there is the chance of fresh snow in the Cascades and Olympics later in the week.

The important parts of the weather statment:


Keep your fingers crossed.

Restless Dreamer

August 12th, 2008

I do a lot of daydreaming. Most would call me an introvert. I think that just means that I can entertain myself. I take refuge in my own thoughts rather than the thoughts of others. I’m a class A dreamer. Mostly I dream about the future. Those thoughts usually revolve around travel, skiing and climbing.

Once in a while I look back. Here’s a review of last Saturday. Ollie was sick so we were dog free for the hike to Talapus and Ollalie lakes. What great scenery and due to the rain on the way up there were very few people on the trail. We stayed dry and managed to get a few interesting photos of foliage. A couple of the pics are from Jennifer.

Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek

Mountain Flower
Mountain Flower

Talapus Lake
Talapus Lake