Archive for October, 2008

Camp Muir in October

Monday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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.


Thursday, 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


Thursday, 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.