Esmeralda Basin to Lake Ann overlook, June 25, 2017

Hello everyone, I am doing the WTA Hike-a-Thon this summer and would love your support. Please consider sponsoring me or joining my team “Two More Switchbacks.” The money goes to the Washington Trails Association which does a great job maintaining our trails in addition to being a great resource.

On June 25, 2017 I hiked the Esmeralda Basin trail to the Lake Ann Overlook in the Teanaway area, (near Cleellum.) The first important note, is that the road is washed out near the trailhead, which adds a mile of easy hiking before you get to the trail. If you have a mountain bike, you could probably ride to the trailhead, but I am not sure where you would lock it up. I advise getting to the trail early as parking may be limited due to the road closure. The road itself was dirt and seemed to be in pretty good shape, you can probably make it to the trailhead just fine in a sedan. There was a outhouse at the trailhead which appears to still be maintained. It wasn’t too horrible when we visited.

Here are the stats without the extra 2 miles on the road added:

Distance: 10 miles to the Lake Ann overlook

Elevation: roughly 6,000 feet

Gain: about 2,250 feet

For directions and more info see :

It was a hot day when we set out, the nice thing is there was a lot of water on this trail. There were several stream crossings in which became useful for cooling off. A friend passed on the tip of wetting a bandanna and putting it on your neck. This really helped, along with dipping my hat in the streams. I intend to use this tip where I can this summer.

This was designated as a wildflower hike and while there were flowers I think we were just a little early for the big bloom due to the amount of snow we had this year. Per the WTA site, the trail boasts over 75 types of wildflowers, and I would love to come back for another visit next year. I found a good website for flower identification, while I was not able to identify all of the flowers below I could identify a few.

The trail starts at the end of the Northfork Teanaway Road and it follows an old mining road to a junction in less than a half mile with Ingalls Way and Long Pass Trail (1390). Continue straight at this junction. You will pass by some nice meadows and stream crossings as you gain elevation. Also many great mountain views. Don’t forget to look up!

At about 3 miles from the trailhead an intersection with trail 1226 heads north to a pass overlooking Lake Ann (a very nice little Tarn). Taking this trail to the overlook adds 2 miles to your trip and 500 feet elevation gain but the views are worth it. When we went there was still a lot of snow after the split and we lost the trail for a bit and made our way through the snow up the hill-side. When we neared the top there was a big mountain goat. If you go up there with dogs, please leash them, if you see a goat please keep in mind they are dangerous and leave them alone. (Photo credit of the goat – Debra)

The way down was fun too, some people were glissading, I was on the cautious side and tried to skirt around the snow as much as I could…sorry plants. All in all a very good day with my favorite meetup group.

Angel’s Rest – Columbia Gorge (Oregon), June 4, 2017

This was day two of my Columbia Gorge adventure. A couple of friends and I explored a bit on the Oregon side of the river. I loved seeing all of the Oregon Ducks shirts on the trails, it was great. Before heading to Angels Rest we visited the tourist attraction Multnoma Falls. The falls 611 feet of cascading water, that is easily accessible from the road. This is so popular that there is a paved path leading up to the falls, and it can get quite crowded so it is best to get there early before the crowds. We went, we saw and we moved on.

The Angel’s rest trail was a short drive down the road from Multnoma Falls. It’s popularity reminded me a little bit of trails like Little Si or Rattlesnake ledge, it was pretty crowded. The first lot was full when we reached it in the morning. There was another overflow lot as well as street parking. This trail was short and steep, a perfect morning pick-me up before heading back to Seattle. Should you decide to bring a dog along make sure it is on a leash, as there are some steep cliffs that could be dangerous for your furry friends.

Here are the stats:Angel's Rest

4.8 miles round trip, 4.8 miles round trip, 1500 feet elevation gain

For more information and driving directions please see the Washington Trails Association site. (Yes, I know this is in Oregon, but it is on the WTA site).

Again, this trail was abundant with wildflowers. There were several Iris which I had never seen on trails before in addition to columbine, wild rose, wild strawberry and many more.

I would say the trail was moderately steep. Again similar to something like Poo Poo point in the Seattle area. Great workout with a very nice view at the end. The trail meanders and switchbacks up until you reach a crest. Take a left where the trail splits to get to the destination where you have sweeping views of the gorge.

Hamilton Mountain – Columbia Gorge, June 3, 2017

On June 3, 2017 I took a weekend trip down to the Columbia Gorge with the Over 40 Single Hikers and Adventurers. Most of the group went down for the day but a few camped over Friday night, and a few of us went down on Saturday and Stayed over to do a second hike on Sunday. (I was in the latter group that stayed over Saturday night.)

This trail is at Beacon Rock state Park in Southwest Washington. It was roughly a 3 hour drive early in the morning (with no traffic) from Seattle. If you leave later plan to add extra travel time.

There is a series of trails in this park, so you hike may end up being a different distance depending on which trails you choose. Below is a photo of the map at the trailhead plus park sign with some distances.

Here are the stats from WTA:

7.5 Miles round trip, 2,000 feet elevation gain, highest point 2,400 feet.

Parking pass needed: Discover Pass

Here visit the Washington Trails Association Page for more information about the trail and directions.

When we reached this trail the main parking was full, but there was plenty of parking down the road, which added a short distance to our hike, nothing horrible. It was nice that there was overflow and that there were rangers at the main parking directing traffic. At the trailhead there was a little park for the kids, and a picnic area to make use of after hiking.

The first mile stretch is up a wide well-built trail. There were a ton of wildflowers and some wild strawberries on the trailside which were starting to bloom, but I didn’t see any fruit yet.

At a mile in you will be able to hear the falls, and shortly thereafter you will see the sign heading down to the Hardy Falls viewpoint. This is a steep little pitch, and the views are mostly obstructed by trees, so if you are into big cascading falls continue down the trail until you see a sign leading to Rodney Falls and pool of the winds. The upper falls were pretty impressive. After you are done enjoying the spray, head back down to the main trail which crosses over the lower falls.

As a whole I felt like this trail climbed pretty steadily. I felt like I was more tired than I should have been but I also had insomnia the night before and I think that was affecting my endurance. The trail gets a little steeper past the falls, but the views of the gorge start peeking out and become more and more stunning. At 1.3 miles the Hardy creek trail intersects with the Hamilton Mountain trail (more difficult) follow this route counter-clockwise up the Hamilton mountain trail. There were more flowers along the trail as well, but my camera was not cooperating. When you reach the top of Hamilton Mountain you will be rewarded with panoramic views of the gorge, and if clear cascade peaks. If you continue another .75 miles on the narrower loop trail, a prominent ridge will provide even better views.

From here you can either do an out and back or make a loop, continuing to a shared equestrian trail. Per the WTA site this trail is less used and there are signs of black bear on the trail so if just a few of you make sure to make a little noise so you are not surprising our furry little friends. Don’t miss the turn off back to the Hamilton Mountain Trail. The trail is at a junction where there is a picnic table and a major trail intersection. You want to head southeast here to loop back to the Hamilton Mountain Trail just before the waterfalls.


Sauer’s Mountain, May 13, 2017

On May 13, I headed to Sauer’s Mountain with my favorite meetup group, the Over 40 Single Hikers and Adventurers. This hike begins on private land, so please be courteous to the land owners. If the parking lot is full, opt for a different hike and if you bring dogs please make sure they are on a leash. The land-owner asks for a donation to park on his land (or you can buy some of his son’s wine), and he was friendly and helpful when we arrived. I heard a rumor that this trail has been closed since we went, but the WTA site does not indicate closure and the last trip report was from June 11th. It is worth noting that this trail is not one you would want to do on a very hot day. It is pretty exposed, and I imagine it would be pretty awful if it was very hot out.

Here are the stats per WTA website:

Sauer's Mountain

Some of Mr. Sauer’s artwork

6 miles round-trip, gain 2,000 feet, highest point 3116 feet.

Area: Central Cascades, Steven’s Pass

For more information and driving directions, see the  Washington Trails Association Page.

On the first part of the trail through Mr. Sauer’s property enjoy the funky artwork, there are some totems and signs that add a little something different to this trail.

The trail is steep and narrow through the first section, take care where you step to let other hikers pass, etc. (Not advised for someone with extreme fear of heights.) We managed to hike this trail during the right season, the wildflowers were abundant –  balsamroot, lupine, bluebells, phlox, and a more! So beautiful.

As you ascend, check out the views of the valley below you. If clear, there is also a great view of the Stuart range. I loved the orchards and fields below us. So lush in the spring!

At the half-mile point you come to a fork, the left fork offers views of the Wenatchee River valley as well as views of the Stuart range and the Enchantments. The right fork offers a shady path through the forest to the summit. Take either fork as the trail re-connects at the one-mile point, just before the viewpoint.Sauer's Mountain The trail is marked at half-mile points to help you keep track of your distance.

Eventually you cross onto National forest land and an old logging road. Continue through the forest until reaching the summit of Sauer’s Mountain, where there are excellent views of surrounding peaks. There is a helpful sign indicating various peaks.

You can continue up the trail from this viewpoint. We ended stopping at another highpoint with an interesting Cairn where we stopped for our lunch before returning to the car. Overall, a nice spring hike.


Lake Twenty-Two, May 7, 2017

Last Sunday I went to Lake 22 with the Over 40 Outdoor Adventurers. It was a beautiful sunny day, which made this scenic hike even better. This is one of those hikes that is extremely popular. I recommend an early start at the trailhead to avoid some of the crowds. Also, this trailhead is notorious for car break-ins. Leave NOTHING visible in your car. I have done this trail during different times of the year, but I think my favorite time to go is in the late spring. There is so much water on the trail…beautiful…and some snow which adds a bit of fun.Lake Twenty-Two

Here are the stats: 5.4 miles round trip, 1300 feet elevation gain, high point 2400 feet.

Region: North Cascades, Mountain Loop Hwy

Pass Required: Northwest Forest Pass.

This trail sets out through the mossy forest and after a short distance you start the gradual incline up to the lake. Take time to marvel in the huge old growth trees along the way as well as the many little creeks (especially early in the season). To see one of the waterfalls below you have to look for a little side trail. It was impressive and worth the trip.

There were a few obstacles on the forested part of the trail, the hardest of which to cross was a big root-ball. There was one small area that was pretty eroded, looked like a little slide that took some patient footing as well, and then of course the snow at the top.

The first half of the trail is through the mossy forest and under tree cover. After 1.5 miles, the trail opens up and you climb a talus slope. The talus is a little tricky with footing, and can be slippery. I highly recommend boots for this trail. There were many people wearing tennis shoes, but I think you would be happier and more comfortable with appropriate hiking footwear. The view from the talus slope on a clear day is amazing, so don’t forget to look up. I believe the snowy peaks across the way is Whitehorse Mountain and Three Fingers (according to WTA).

I spotted a few trillium along the way and some pretty little yellow flowers, but I think it is too early for most wild flowers. There was also some skunk cabbage starting to come up at various points on the trail.

You eventually get off the talus slope and back into the trees. On our outing, soon after entering the forest again we started spotting a little snow…then a lot of snow. Boots, poles and micro-spikes or another traction device will all make passing this section easier.

Then you reach the lake. There were some folks walking out on the frozen part of the lake but this is something I wouldn’t recommend. You never know how thick/strong the ice is, and it isn’t worth risking your life if you break through. Later in the summer you can walk completely around the lake. This is also something that would be very stupid to try right now as there are several avalanche chutes with snow ready to come down. With the amount of water melting beneath them, it would be very dangerous. It is such a pretty lake…a Tarn even. It was great having a sunny day to enjoy it! It is really a nice hike, and it is no wonder why it is so popular.

Lime Kiln Trail, April 30, 2017

Today I ventured out to the Lime Kiln Trail with my friend Shane and his dog Noah. This trail is easy to get to as it is located just out of Granite Falls. I have had a few friends ask me about easy trails for starting out and this is a great one. The trail has a little grade in a couple of places, but overall it is very easy. Lime Kiln Trail

Here are the stats from the WTA Site: 7 miles round trip, 625 ft. elevation gain, highest point 750 ft.

This trail is maintained by Snohomish County and does not require any parking passes.

For more info and directions go to:

The hike starts in the Robe Canyon historical park with a small climb through a forested area, it then reaches an old railroad grade and descends towards the river. From here it alternates between a forested train and old railroad grade to an old town site which was once a logging area, but they also produced lime from the limestone. A few artifacts are still lying around, old saw blades, bricks and the lime kiln itself.

The trail itself was very nice apart from some mud and a few blow downs. None of the obstacles were too difficult to skirt around and it wasn’t nearly as muddy as my outings to Boulder River and Lower Gray Wolf river. It was your typical Western Washington mossy trail. There were a ton of bleeding hearts and Salmon Berry bushes blooming. We spotted a coupe of Trillium. There was a lot of new growth on ferns and skunk cabbage, and it was overall nice and green and lush.

The trail followed the Stillaguamish River which was very full and milky with silt. If you continue past the lime kiln to the River Loop, there is a nice lunch spot by the river. Look we even saw a little sun today!



Return to Lower Gray Wolf River, April 22, 2017

Yesterday I returned to the Lower Gray Wolf River trail with the Over 40 Slackers. We did this trail last year on May 21, 2016 on an equally drizzly day, however last time the rhododendrons were blooming. Here is the link to my previous blog post: Lower Gray Wolf River, May 2016. This year there were a lot of trillium blooming which was a nice treat.

Here are the stats again:

Region: Olympic Peninsula, Hood Canal

8.4 Miles Round Trip, 800 ft. elevation gain, highest point 1500 ft.

No parking permit was required. The dirt road in was fairly long but in good shape. We made it in a Honda Fit (not mine) with no issues. I didn’t see directions on the WTA website so here they are:

From the west end of the Hood Canal Bridge, drive SR 104 to its end and veer North onto Hwy 101. Proceed 16 miles and turn left onto Louella Rd. (You will pass a Casino, it is shortly after that. It is just before reaching the Sequim Bay State Park entrance.) in 1 mile turn left on Palo Alto Rd. continuing for 6 miles to a junction. Bear right at a junction onto FR 2880. The road descends and crosses the Dungeness River, coming to another junction in 1.7 miles. Turn Right on FR 2870, cross the Gray Wolf River, and arrive at the trailhead after 1.8 miles.

This trail starts on a gradual downhill (which means it ends on an uphill), and as you proceed, it has some steep ups and downs along the way, but they are fairly short ups and downs. I was feeling pretty out of shape again, and a little low on energy due to staying up too late plus reducing calories in my diet last week. I will plan better next time and have a couple more healthy snacks with me. I see this as inspiration to get in shape and lose the weight I gained over the winter plus more.

There were a couple of minor obstacles along the way, the biggest of which was mud. There were a few blow-downs, but nothing too difficult to get by. Lastly, there were a couple of parts of the trail near the end where there was a some erosion that was slightly challenging, but not too bad.

This trail usually does not have a lot of traffic (unless an annoying meetup group plans an outing here) and has a few nice camp spots. What a lovely place to camp. I spotted a few spots along the river that would make nice swimming holes in the summer. I am not sure if foot traffic here increases over the summer. I am also not sure if you need a permit to camp. If you want to backpack in, you may want to call the ranger station for more information. I only spotted three spots, but there may be more. I thought the farthest one in was the nicest.

As I mentioned before we saw a lot of Trillium blooming and a few other spring flowers. How many pictures of Trillium is too many? You tell me…

Finally some general trail photos, it was so pretty and mossy despite the mud and the rain it was a very nice hike. The sun even came out for a bit, which was very nice.



Return to Icicle Ridge, April 15, 2017

On the 15th of April I headed back to Icicle Ridge with the Over 40 Slackers meetup group. Boy was I feeling out of shape, but it was so nice to see the sun! Last year we were here on May 14th, a month later. Here is the link to the previous posting Icicle Ridge May 2016. As you can see we were a little early for the wild flowers, as everything is still moist and melting out. There was a bit of snow at our destination, and a lot of snow if you continue to 4th of July Pass.

The stats are on my older posting, but here they are again for convenience:

Icicle Ridge

Icicle Ridge Trailhead

6 miles round trip, 1800 ft. elevation gain, High point 3000 ft.

No parking passes are required for this hike and it is an easy road in, so if you don’t have a high-clearance vehicle. Please see my previous posting for the WTA Link and more info.

The trail itself is well maintained, it is not rocky or rooty, there are a couple of spots that can be slippery with loose gravel, but otherwise in great shape. It is a pretty constant grade up to the lookout point, good heart pumper. It is worth noting this trail has a lot of spots that are exposed, and it can get VERY hot. Do not attempt this on a hot day. You will be sorry. Many trip reports note snakes on the trail (rattlesnakes). I saw one last time, but it didn’t bother me. No snake sightings this time around, maybe they were still hibernating. We did spot a grouse which was pretty cool. It makes a strange whomping sound when it is calling to its mate. It blended into the scenery very well, and you had to look hard to spot it. As far as the scenery goes, we had a nice clear day. Mount Stuart was very pretty with all of the snow on it, and the town of Leavenworth looked peaceful below.

All in all, a very nice day. Here are some photos from this outing:

Boulder River Hike, April 1, 2017

Out with the snow (no, it is not all gone in the Pacific NW) in with the mud. Time for spring hiking. Yesterday, I hiked the Boulder River trail with my favorite meetup group, the 40+ Slackers. The road to this trailhead is off Hwy 30 about 23.6 miles past Arlington. Make a right turn on French Creek Road just after mile post 41 and follow this to the end. Note, the road had some pretty big potholes in it. We had a couple of sedans that made it their way there, just drive with care. Also, currently, there is a big tree blocking part of the parking lot, so I would advise you to arrive early to grab a good spot.

Boulder River

Large tree fell in parking lot

Here are the stats per the WTA site:  8.6 miles roundtrip, 700 feet of elevation gain, highest point 1550 ft.

No parking pass is needed.

For directions and more information see

This trail is supposedly hikeable year-round, but it would be advisable to check trip reports before making your way there in the winter months. I did see some earlier trip reports that noted snow on the trail, and we did see a few small patches off the path on the day we went, but the trail itself was clear. This trail was overall fairly easy not too much elevation gain, the trail meandered by the river with some ups and downs along the way. The difficulty came with some of the obstacles along the way. There were two big trees that had fallen that you had to climb over, and a few small ones. We got lucky because per a recent trip report, the forest service had just put  a notch in one of the trees making it slightly easier to get over. The next obstacle was mud.

Boulder River

One of the many muddy spots

There was a lot of it. This is to be expected in spring hiking, so it is advisable to have waterproof boots and gaiters. I was really to happy to have mine yesterday, as I stepped in at least one or two mud spots that were about ankle-deep, possibly covering my whole boot (thank goodness for gaiters). Luckily there were a lot of streams which became a great spot to wash off your boots. The most challenging muddy spot was at the end where you have to climb over fallen tree’s roots, then drop into the mud. There were also a few slippery little log bridges to cross that test your balance. Needless to say, we were all nice and dirty by the end.

The route starts on a nice wide flat trail, enjoy the mossy forest around you, the ferns, trees, etc. So beautiful. Once you are a little more than a mile in you will see the first water fall. The WTA site notes two waterfalls but we saw three, so I am wondering if we got a bonus with spring run-off.

After you pass the first waterfall keep going past a switch back and admire some one of the old growth trees on the trail (there were many worth hugging). Further up the trail is the second waterfall. The WTA site says the second waterfall is 1.5 miles down the trail but I am unsure of the distances since we saw three falls.

Eventually we came to a 3rd waterfall, which was also impressive, as was the forest along the way. There are also a few nice river views along the way.

The trail eventually drops down into a marshy area (lots of mud) and ends at a nice lunch spot by the river. The largest mud obstacle that I mentioned above was close to the end of the trail, so if you have gotten there, don’t give up. At this time, I didn’t notice any mosquitoes on the trail, I think it is still too cold for them, but there were a few in the parking lot, when it warms up you may want to bring bug spray.

Cross-Country Skiing in Leavenworth at the Fish Hatchery, March 18, 2017

And now for something completely different. The last time I went cross-country or Nordic skiing must have been at least 20+ years ago when I lived in Tahoe. Those were the days when we strapped on our skis and took of from the back yard into the woods. I have to confess, it took me a while to get into the rhythm of it again, but it was a lot of fun. I almost missed this event due to staying out too late on St. Paddy’s day and sleeping through my alarm. Luckily I was not the only one. My friend Sevin saved the day. We headed up late and were able to meet up with the rest of the group.

I rented skis from the Ski Shop at Osprey, which is at the beginning of Icicle creek road. If you are interested in rafting, this shop also rents rafts in the summertime. Osprey Ski Shop. The cost for a half-day rental was $12.00 which was plenty of time as the course was just down the road.

We went Skiing at the Fish hatchery, which I believe is this Icicle River course. Fish HatcheryThis was a groomed trail which was perfect for my first time out in so many years. The cost for this trail was $18 for an adult ticket. Check the website for kid and senior prices. The groomed trail was roughly 5 miles long and mostly flat, with a couple of little hills. We lucked out on this particular day because the entire way up the pass it was raining. As soon as we got on the course, the sun came out and it was beautiful. Due to the rainy weather we have been having the snow was very wet and slushy/slow. It is melting fast. On drive home all of the waterfalls were booming and looked amazing.  I suspect the season will be over soon unless we get another snow storm. But I am hoping spring is on its way and we can begin hiking soon. Here are some photos. Enjoy.